Thomas Hoccleve poems

Thomas Hoccleve(1368 - 1426 / England)
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The Letter of Cupid

- by Thomas Hoccleve 11

Cupido, unto whos commandement
The gentil kinrede of goddes on hy
And peple infernal been obedient,
And the mortel folk seruen bisyly,
Of goddesse Sitheree sone oonly,
To alle tho that to our deitee
Been sogettes greetinges senden we.

In general, we wole that yee knowe
That ladies of honour and reverence
And other gentil wommen han ysowe
Swich seed of complainte in our audience
Of men that doon hem outrage and offense
That it our eres greeveth for to heere,
So pitous is th' effect of hir mateere;
And passing alle londes on this yle
That clept is Albioun they moost complaine;
They sayn that ther is croppe and roote of guile,
So can tho men dissimulen and faine
With standing dropes in hir eyen twaine,
Whan that hir herte feeleth no distresse.
To blinde wommen with hir doublenesse,

Hir wordes spoken been so sighingly
And with so pitous cheere and contenance,
That every wight that meeneth trewely
Deemeth that they in herte han swich greuance.
They sayn so importable is hir penance

That but hir lady list to shewe hem grace
They right anoon moot sterven in the place.

"A, lady min," they sayn, "I yow ensure,
Shewe me grace and I shal evere be,
Whiles my lif may lasten and endure,
To yow as humble in every degree
As possible is, and keepe al thing secree
As that yourselven liketh that I do;
And elles moot min herte breste on two."

Ful hard is it to knowe a mannes herte,
For outward may no man the truthe deeme
Whan word out of his mouth may ther noon sterte,
But it sholde any wight by reson queeme
So is it seid of herte, it wolde seeme.
O faithful womman, ful of Innocence,
Thou art betrayed by fals apparence!

By procees wommen, meved of pitee,
Weening al thing were as that tho men saye,
Granten hem grace of hir benignitee,
For they nat sholden for hir sake deye,
And with good herte sette hem in the weye
Of blisful love -- keepe it if they konne!
Thus other while been the wommen wonne.

And whan the man the pot hath by the stele,
And fully of her hath possessioun,
With that womman he keepeth nat to dele
After, if he may finden in the toun
Any womman his blind affeccion
On to bestowe -- foule moot he preeve!
A man for al his ooth is hard to leeve.

And for that every fals man hath a make,
As unto every wight is light to knowe,
Whan this Traitour the womman hath forsake
He faste him speedeth unto his felowe;
Til he be ther his herte is on a lowe,
His fals deceit ne may him nat suffise,
But of his treson telleth al the wise.

Is this a fair avaunt? Is this honour
A man himself to accuse and diffame?
Now is it good confesse him a traitour,
And bringe a womman to a sclaundrous name,
And telle how he hir body hath doon shame;
No worship may he thus to him conquere
But ful greet repreef unto him and here.

To her nay yit was it no repreef,
For al for pitee was it that shee wroghte;
But he that breewed hath al this mescheef,
That spak so fair and falsly inward thoghte --
His be the shame as it by reson oghte;
And unto her thank perpetuel
That in a neede helpe can so wel.

Althogh that men by sleighte and sotiltee
A sely, simple, and ignorant womman
Betraye is no wonder, syn the Citee
Of Troie, as that the storie telle can,
Betrayed was thurgh the deceit of man,
And set afir and al doun overthrowe,
And finally destroyed as men knowe.

Betrayen men nat Remes grete and kinges?
What wight is, that can shape a remedie
Againes false and hid purposed thinges?
Who can the craft tho castes to espye,
But man whos wil ay reedy is t' applye
To thing that souneth into hy falshede?
Wommen, be waar of mennes sleighte, I rede;

And ferthermore han the men in usage,
That wheras they nat likly been to speede
Swiche as they been with a double visage,
They procuren for to pursue hir neede;
He prayeth him in his cause proceede
And largely him quiteth his travaille;
Smal witen wommen how men hem assaille.

To his felawe another wreche sayth,
"Thou fishest fair! Shee that hath thee fired
Is fals and inconstant and hath no faith.
Shee for the rode of folk is so desired
And as an hors fro day to day is hired,
That whan thou twinnest from hir compaignie
Another comth and blered is thin eye.

Now prike on faste and ride thy journeye;
Whil thou art ther, shee behinde thy bak
So liberal is shee can no wight withsaye,
But quikly of another take a snak,
For so the wommen faren al the pak.
Whoso hem trusteth hanged moot he be!
Ay they desiren chaunge and noveltee.

Wherof procedeth this but of envye?
For he himself here ne winne may,
Repreef of her he speketh and villenye
As mannes labbing tonge is wont alway.
Thus sundry men ful often make assay
For to disturbe folk in sundry wise
For they may nat acheven hir emprise.

Ful many a man eek wolde for no good
That hath in love spent his time and used
Men wiste his lady his axing withstood
And that he were of his lady refused,
Or waast and vain were al that he had mused
Wherfore he can no bettre remedie
But on his lady shapeth him to lie:

"Every womman," he sayth," is light to gete;
Can noon sayn 'nay' if shee be wel ysoght.
Whoso may leiser han with hir to trete
Of his purpos ne shal he faille noght."
But on madding he be so deepe broght
That he shende al with open hoomlynesse
That loven wommen nat as that I gesse.

To sclaundre wommen thus what may profite
To gentils namly that hem armen sholde
And in deffense of wommen hem delite
As that the ordre of gentillesse wolde
If that a man list gentil to be holde
Al moot he flee that is to it contrary
A sclaundring tonge is therto Aduersary.

A foul vice is of tonge to be light
For whoso mochil clappeth gabbeth ofte
The tonge of man so swift is and so wight
That whan it is araised up on lofte
Reson it sueth so slowly and softe
That it him nevere overtake may.
Lord, so the men been trusty at assay!

Al be it that men finde o womman nice,
Inconstant, rechelees, or variable
Deinous, or proud, fulfilled of malice,
Withoute faith or love and deceivable,
Sly, queinte and fals, in al unthrift coupable,
Wikked and feers and ful of crueltee --
It folweth nat swiche alle wommen be.

Whan that the hy god angels fourmed hadde
Among hem alle whether ther was noon
That founden was malicious and badde?
Yis, men wel knowen ther was many oon
That for hir pride fel from hevene anoon.
Shal man therfore alle angels proude name?
Nay, he that that susteneth is to blame.

Of twelue apostles oon a traitour was;
The remanaunt yit goode were and true.
Thanne, if it happe men finden par cas
O womman fals, swich is good for t' eschewe
And deeme nat that they been alle untrue.
I see wel mennes owne falsenesse
Hem causeth wommen for to truste lesse.

O, every man oghte han an herte tendre
Unto womman and deeme her honurable,
Whether his shap be either thikke or sclendre
Or he be badde or good; this is no fable.
Every man woot that wit hath resonable
That of a womman he descended is.
Than is it shame speke of hir amis.

A wikked tree good fruit may noon foorth bringe
For swich the fruit is, as that is the tree.
Take heede of whom thou took thy beginninge
Lat thy moder be mirour unto thee;
Honoure her if thou wilt honoured be.
Dispise thou nat her in no maneere
Lest that therthurgh thy wikkednesse appeere.

An old proverbe seid is in English
Men sayn that brid or foul is dishonest,
What so it be, and holden ful cherlish
That wont is to deffoule his owne nest.
Men to saye of wommen wel it is best
And nat for to despise hem ne deprave
If that hem list hir honour keepe and save.

Ladies eek complainen hem on clerkes
That they han maad bookes of hir deffame
In whiche they lakken wommennes werkes
And speken of hem greet repreef and shame
And causelees hem yeue a wikked name.
Thus they dispised been on every side
And sclaundred and belowen on ful wide.

Tho wikked bookes maken mencion
How they betrayeden in special
Adam, Dauid, Sampson, and Salomon
And many oon mo. Who may rehercen al
The tresoun that they have doon and shal?
Who may hir hy malice comprehende?
Nat the world, clerkes sayn; it hath noon ende.

Ovide in his book called Remedie
Of Love greet repreef of wommen writeth,
Wherin I trowe he dide greet folie
And every wight that in swich cas deliteth;
A clerkes custume is whan he enditeth
Of wommen, be it prose rym or vers,
Sayn they be wikke, al knowe he the revers.

And that book scolers lerne in hir childhede
For they of wommen be waar sholde in age,
And for to love hem evere been in drede,
Syn to deceive is set al hir corage.
They sayn peril to caste is avantage;
Namely swich as men han in be trapped,
For many a man by wommen han mishapped

No charge what so that the Clerkes sayn
Of al hir wrong wryting do we no cure
Al hir labour and travaille is in vain
For betwixt us and my lady Nature
Shal nat be suffred whil the world may dure
Clerkes by hir outrageous tirannye
Thus upon wommen kithen hir maistrye

Whilom ful many of hem were in our chaine
Tied and -- lo! -- now what for unweeldy age
And for unlust may nat to love attaine
And sayn that love is but verray dotage;
Thus for that they hemself lakken corage
They folk exciten by hir wikked sawes
For to rebelle again us and our lawes.

But maugree hem that blamen wommen moost
Swich is the force of oure impressioun
That sodeinly we felle can hir boost
And al hir wrong imaginacioun
It shal nat been in hir elleccioun
The foulest slutte in al a town refuse
If that us list, for al that they can muse.

But her in herte as brenningly desire
As thogh shee were a duchesse or a queene
So can we mennes hertes sette on fire
And as us list hem sende joye and teene
They that to wommen been ywhet so keene
Our sharpe strokes how sore they smite
Shul feele and knowe and how they kerve and bite.

Pardee, this greet clerk, this sotil Ovide
And many another han deceived be
Of wommen, as it knowen is ful wide.
What no men more and that is greet daintee
So excellent a clerk as that was he
And other mo that koude so wel preche
Betrapped wern for aght they koude teche.

And trusteth wel that it is no meruaille
For wommen knewen plainly hir entente
They wiste how sotilly they koude assaille
Hem and what falshode in herte they mente
And tho Clerkes they in hir daunger hente
With o venym another was destroyed
And thus the Clerkes often were anoyed

Thise ladies ne gentils nathelees
Weren nat they that wroghten in this wise
But swiche filthes that wern vertulees
They quitten thus thise olde Clerkes wise
To clerkes forthy lesse may suffise
Than to deprave wommen generally
For honour shuln they gete noon therby.

If that tho men that lovers hem pretende
To wommen weren faithful, goode, and true,
And dredden hem to deceive and offende,
Wommen to love hem wolde nat eschewe;
But every day hath man an herte neewe
It upon oon abide can no while.
What force is it swich oon for to beguile?

Men beren eek the wommen up on honde
That lightly and withouten any paine
They wonne been; they can no wight withstonde
That his disese list to hem complaine.
They been so freel they mowe hem nat restraine.
But whoso liketh may hem lightly have
So been hir hertes esy in to grave.

To Maistir Iohn de Meun as I suppose
Than it was a lewde occupacioun
In makinge of the Romance of the Rose
So many a sly imaginacioun
And perils for to rollen up and doun --
So long procees, so many a sly cautele,
For to deceive a sely damoisele!

Nat can we seen, ne in our wit comprehende
That art and paine and sotiltee may faille
For to conquere and soone make an ende,
Whan man a feeble place shal assaille,
And soone also to venquishe a Bataille
Of which no wight dar make resistence,
Ne herte hath noon to stonden at deffense.

Than moot it folwen of necessitee
Syn art asketh so greet engin and paine
A womman to deceive, what shee be,
Of constance they been nat so bareine
As that some of tho sotil clerkes feine,
But they been as that wommen oghten be:
Sad, constaunt, and fulfilled of pitee

How freendly was Medea to Jasoun
In the conquering of the flees of gold!
How falsly quitte he her affeccion,
By whom victorie he gat as he hath wold.
How may this man for shame be so bold
To falsen her that from deeth and shame
Him kepte and gat him so greet prys and name?

Of Troie also the traitour Eneas
The feithlees man how hath he him forswore
To Dido that Queene of Cartage was
That him releeved of his greeves sore.
What gentillesse mighte shee do more
Than shee with herte unfeined to him kidde?
And what mescheef to her of it betidde!

In our Legende of Martyrs may men finde
Whoso that liketh therin for to rede
That ooth noon ne beheste may men binde;
Of repreef ne of shame han they no drede;
In herte of man conceites true arn dede;
The soile is naght; ther may no trouthe growe.
To womman is hir vice nat unknowe

Clerkes sayn also ther is no malice
Unto wommannes crabbed wikkednesse.
O womman, how shalt thou thyself chevice,
Syn men of thee so mochil harm witnesse?
Yee, strah! Do foorth! Take noon hevynesse!
Keepe thin owne, what men clappe or crake
And some of hem shuln smerte, I undertake.

Malice of wommen what is it to drede?
They slee no men, destroyen no citees,
They nat oppressen folk, ne overlede,
Betraye Empires, Remes, ne Duchees,
Ne men bereve hir landes ne hir mees,
Folk enpoisone or houses sette on fire,
Ne fals contractes maken for noon hire.

Trust parfit love and enteer charitee,
Fervent wil and entalented corage.
To thewes goode as it sit wel to be
Han wommen ay of custume and usage;
And wel they can a mannes ire assuage
With softe wordes discreet and benigne
What they been inward sheweth owtward signe.

Wommannes herte to no crueltee
Enclined is; but they been charitable
Pitous, devout, ful of humilitee,
Shamefast, debonair, and amiable,
Dreedful, and of hir wordes mesurable;
What womman thise hath nat par aventure
Folweth nothing the way of hir nature.

Men sayn our firste moder nathelees
Mede al mankinde leese his libertee
And naked it of joye doutelees,
For goddes heeste disobeyed shee
Whan shee presumed to ete of the tree
Which god forbad that shee nat ete of sholde,
And nad the feend been, no more she wolde.

Th' envious swelling that the feend our fo
Had unto man in herte for his welthe
Sente a serpent and made her to go
To deceive Eve; and thus was mannes welthe
Bereft him by the feend right in a stelthe,
The womman nat knowing of the deceit.
God woot ful fer was it from hir conceit!

Wherfor we sayn this good womman Eve
Our fadir Adam ne deceived noght
Ther may no man for a deceit it preeve
Proprely, but if that shee in hir thoght
Had it compassed first or it was wroght;
And for swich was nat hir impressioun,
Men calle it may no deceit by resoun

No wight deceiveth but he it purpose
The feend this deceit caste and nothing shee.
Than is it wrong for to deeme or suppose
That shee sholde of that guilt the cause be.
Witeth the feend and his be the maugree,
And for excused have hir innocence,
Sauf oonly that shee brak obedience.

Touchinge which, ful fewe men ther been --
Unnethes any dar we saufly saye --
Fro day to day as men mowe wel seen,
But that the heeste of god they disobeye.
This have in minde, sires, we yow preye
If that yee be discreet and resonable
Yee wole hir holde the more excusable

And wher men sayn in man is stedfastnesse
And womman is of hir corage unstable,
Who may of Adam bere swich witnesse?
Telleth on this: was he nat changeable?
They bothe weren in a cas semblable,
Sauf willingly the feend deceived Eve.
So dide shee nat Adam, by your leeve!

Yit was that sinne happy to mankinde:
The feend deceived was for al his sleighte.
For aght he koude him in his sleightes winde,
God to discharge mankinde of the weighte
Of his trespas cam doun from hevenes heighte,
And flesh and blood he took of a virgine,
And souffred deeth man to delivere of pine.

And god fro whom ther may nothing hid be,
If he in womman knowe had swich malice,
As men of hem recorde in generaltee
Of our lady of lif reparatrice
Nolde han be born; but for that shee of vice
Was voide and of al vertu wel he wiste
Endowed of her be born him liste.

Her heped vertu hath swich excellence
That al too weyk is mannes facultee
To declare it; and therfore in suspense
Her due laude put moot needes be.
But this we witen verraily: that shee,
Next god, the best freend is that to man longeth.
The keye of mercy by hir girdil hongeth.

And of mercy hath every wight swich neede
That, cessing it, farwel the joye of man!
Of hir power it is to taken heede;
Shee mercy may, wole, and purchace can;
Displese her nat! Honureth that womman
And other wommen alle for hir sake;
And but yee do, your sorwe shal awake.

Thou precious gemme, martyr margarete,
Of thy blood dreddest noon effusioun;
Thy martyrdom ne may we nat foryete.
O constant womman, in thy passioun
Overcam the feendes temptacioun,
And many a wight converted thy doctrine
Unto the feith of god, holy virgine.

But understondeth: we commende hir noght
By encheson of hir virginitee
Trusteth right wel it cam nat in our thoght
For ay we werreie again chastitee
And evere shal; but this leeveth wel yee:
Her loving herte and constant to hir lay
Drive out of remembrance we nat may.

In any book also wher can yee finde
That of the wirkes or the deeth or lif
Of Jhesu spekth or maketh any minde
That wommen him forsook for wo or strif
Wher was ther any wight so ententif
Abouten him as wommen pardee noon
Th' apostles him forsooken everichoon

Wommen forsook him noght for al the feith
Of holy chirche in womman lefte oonly
This is no lees for thus holy writ sayth
Looke and yee shuln so finde it hardily
And therfore it may preeved be therby
That in womman regneth al the constaunce
And in man is al chaunge and variaunce

Now holdeth this for ferme and for no lye
That this treewe and just commendacioun
Of wommen is nat told for flaterye
Ne to cause hem pride or elacioun
But oonly -- lo! -- for this entencioun
To yeue hem corage of perseverance
In vertu and hir honur to enhaunce

The more vertu, the lasse is the pride;
Vertu so noble is and worthy in kinde
That vice and shee may nat in feere abide
Shee putteth vice cleene out of minde
Shee fleeth from him shee leveth him behinde
O womman that of vertu art hostesse,
Greet is thin honur and thy worthynesse.

Than thus we wolen conclude and deffine:
We yow commaunde our Ministres echoon
That reedy been to our hestes encline
That of tho men untrue, our rebel foon,
Yee do punishement and that anoon
Voide hem our Court and banishe hem for evere
So that therinne they ne come nevere.

Fulfilled be it! Cessing al delay,
Looke ther be noon excusacion.
Writen in th' air the lusty monthe of May
In our Paleys wher many a milion
Of lovers true han habitacion
The yeer of grace joyeful and jocounde
One thousand four hundred and secounde.

The Regiment of Princes

- by Thomas Hoccleve 10

Musynge upon the restlees bysynesse
Which that this troubly world hath ay on honde,
That othir thyng than fruyt of bittirnesse
Ne yildith naght, as I can undirstonde,
At Chestres In, right faste by the Stronde,
As I lay in my bed upon a nyght,
Thoght me byrefte of sleep the force and might. 1

And many a day and nyght that wikkid hyne
Hadde beforn vexed my poore goost
So grevously that of angwissh and pyne
No rycher man was nowhere in no coost.
This dar I seyn, may no wight make his boost
That he with thoght was bet than I aqweynted,
For to the deeth he wel ny hath me feynted.

Bysyly in my mynde I gan revolve
The welthe unseur of every creature,
How lightly that Fortune it can dissolve
Whan that hir list that it no lenger dure;
And of the brotilnesse of hir nature
My tremblynge herte so greet gastnesse hadde
That my spirites were of my lyf sadde.

Me fil to mynde how that nat longe agoo
Fortunes strook doun thraste estat rial
Into mescheef, and I took heede also
Of many anothir lord that hadde a fal.
In mene estat eek sikirnesse at al
Ne saw I noon, but I sy atte laste
Wher seuretee for to abyde hir caste.

In poore estat shee pighte hir pavyloun
To kevere hir fro the storm of descendynge 2
For shee kneew no lower descencion
Sauf oonly deeth, fro which no wight lyvynge
Deffende him may; and thus in my musynge
I destitut was of joie and good hope,
And to myn ese nothyng cowde I grope.

For right as blyve ran it in my thoght,
Thogh poore I be, yit sumwhat leese I may.
Than deemed I that seurtee wolde noght
With me abyde; it is nat to hir pay
Ther to sojourne as shee descende may.
And thus unsikir of my smal lyflode,
Thoght leide on me ful many an hevy lode.

I thoghte eek, if I into povert creepe,
Than am I entred into sikirnesse;
But swich seurtee mighte I ay waille and weepe,
For povert breedith naght but hevynesse.
Allas, wher is this worldes stablenesse?
Heer up, heer doun; heer honour, heer repreef;
Now hool, now seek; now bountee, now mescheef.

And whan I hadde rollid up and doun
This worldes stormy wawes in my mynde,
I sy wel povert was exclusioun
Of al welfare regnynge in mankynde;
And how in bookes thus writen I fynde,
"The werste kynde of wrecchidnesse is
A man to han be weleful or this."

Allas, thoghte I, what sikirnesse is that
To lyve ay seur of greef and of nusance?
What shal I do? Best is I stryve nat
Ageyn the peys of Fortunes balance,
For wel I woot that hir brotil constance
A wight no whyle souffre can sojourne
In o plyt; thus nat wiste I how to tourne.

For whan man weeneth stonde moost constant,
Thanne is he nexte to his overthrowynge;
So flittynge is shee and so variant,
Ther is no trust upon hir fair lawhynge;
Aftir glad look, shee shapith hir to stynge.
I was adrad so of hir gerynesse
That my lyf was but a deedly gladnesse.

This ilke nyght I walwid to and fro
Seekynge reste, but certeynly shee
Appeerid nat, for thoght, my cruel fo,
Chaced had hir and sleep away fro me.
And for I sholde nat allone be,
Ageyn my lust wach proferred his servyse,
And I admittid him in hevy wyse.

So long a nyght ne felte I nevere noon
As was that same, to my jugement.
Whoso that thoghty is, is wo begoon;
The thoghtful wight is vessel of torment;
Ther nis no greef to him equipollent.
He graveth deepest of seeknesses alle:
Ful wo is him that in swich thoght is falle.

What wight that inly pensyf is, I trowe,
His moost desir is to be solitarie.
That this is sooth, in my persone I knowe,
For evere whyl that fretynge adversarie
Myn herte made to him tributarie
In sowkynge of the fressheste of my blood;
To sorwe soul me thoghte it dide me good.
For the nature of hevynesse is this:
If it habownde greetly in a wight,
The place eschueth he whereas joie is,
For joie and he nat mowe accorde aright.
As discordant as day is unto nyght,
And honour adversarie is unto shame,
Is hevynesse so to joie and game.

Whan to the thoghtful wight is told a tale,
He heerith it as thogh he thennes were;
His hevy thoghtes him so plukke and hale
Hidir and thidir, and him greeve and dere,
That his eres availle him nat a pere;
He undirstandith nothyng what men seye,
So been his wittes fer goon hem to pleye.

The smert of thoght I by experience
Knowe as wel as any man dooth lyvynge.
His frosty swoot and fyry hoot fervence,
And troubly dremes drempt al in wakynge,
My mazid heed sleeplees han of konnynge
And wit despoillid, and so me bejapid
That aftir deeth ful often have I gapid.

Passe over; whan this stormy nyght was goon
And day gan at my wyndowe in to prye,
I roos me up, for boote fond I noon
In myn unresty bed lenger to lye.
Into the feeld I dressid me in hye,
And in my wo I herte-deep gan wade,
As he that was bareyne of thoghtes glade.

By that I walkid hadde a certeyn tyme,
Were it an hour I not, or more or lesse,
A poore old hoor man cam walkynge by me,
And seide, "Good day, sire, and God yow blesse!"
But I no word, for my seekly distresse
Forbad myn eres usen hir office,
For which this old man heeld me lewde and nyce,
Til he took heede to my drery cheere,
And to my deedly colour pale and wan.
Than thoghte he thus: "This man that I see heere
Al wrong is wrestid, by aght I see can."
He stirte unto me and seide, "Sleepstow, man?
Awake!" and gan me shake wondir faste,
And with a sigh I answerde atte laste:

"A, who is there?" "I," quod this olde greye,
"Am heer," and he me tolde the manere
How he spak to me, as yee herde me seye.
"O man," quod I, "for Crystes love deere,
If that thow wilt aght doon at my prayeere,
As go thy way, talke to me no more;
Thy wordes alle annoyen me ful sore.

"Voide fro me, me list no conpaignie.
Encresse nat my greef, I have ynow."
"My sone, hast thow good lust thy sorwe drye
And mayst releeved be? What man art thow?
Wirke aftir me: it shal be for thy prow.
Thow nart but yong and hast but litil seen,
And ful seelde is that yong folk wyse been.

"If that thee lyke to been esid wel,
As suffre me with thee to talke a whyle.
Art thow aght lettred?" "Yee," quod I, "sumdel."
"Blessid be God, than hope I, by Seint Gyle,
That God to thee thy wit shal reconsyle
Which that me thynkith is fer fro thee went
Thurgh the assaut of thy grevous torment.

"Lettred folk han gretter discrecion
And bet conceyve konne a mannes sawe,
And rather wole applie to reson,
And from folie sonner hem withdrawe,
Than he that neithir reson can ne lawe,
Ne lerned hath no maner letterure.
Plukke up thyn herte - I hope I shal thee cure."
"Cure, good man? Yee, thow art a fair leeche!
Cure thyself that tremblest as thow goost,
For al thyn aart wole enden in thy speeche.
It lyth nat in thy power, poore goost,
To hele me; thow art as seek almoost
As I! First on thyself kythe thyn aart,
And if aght leve, let me thanne have paart.

"Go foorth thy way, I thee preye, or be stille;
Thow doost me more annoy than that thow weenest.
Thow art as ful of clap as is a mille;
Thow doost naght heer but greevest me and teenest.
Good man, thow woost but litil what thow meenest.
In thee lyth naght redresse my nusance,
And yit thow maist be wel-willid, par chance.

"It muste been a gretter man of might
Than that thow art that sholde me releeve."
"What, sone myn, thow feelist nat aright;
To herkne me, what shal it harme or greeve?"
"Petir, good man, thogh we talke heer til eeve,
Al is in veyn; thy might may nat atteyne
To hele me, swich is my woful peyne."

"What that I may or can ne woost thow noght.
Hardily, sone, telle on how it is."
"Man, at a word, it is encombrous thoght
That causith me thus sorwe and fare amis."
"Now, sone, and if ther nothyng be but this,
Do as I shal thee seye, and thyn estat
Amende I shal but thow be obstinat,

"And wilfully rebelle and disobeye,
And list nat to my lore thee conforme;
For in swich cas, what sholde I speke or seye,
Or in my beste wyse thee enforme?
If thow it weyve and take anothir forme,
Aftir thy childissh misreuled conceit,
Thow doost unto thyself harm and deceit.
"O thyng seye I, if thow go feerelees
Al solitarie and conseil lakke and reed,
As me thynkith thy gyse is, doutelees
Thow likly art to bere a dotid heed.
Whil thow art soul, thoght his wastyng seed
Sowith in thee, and that in greet foysoun,
And thow reedlees nat canst voide his poisoun.

"The Book seith thus - I redde it yore agoon:
'Wo be to him that list to been allone,
For if he falle, help ne hath he noon
To ryse.' This seye I by thy persone;
I fond thee soul and thy wittes echone
Fer fro thee fled and disparpled ful wyde,
Wherfore it seemeth thee needith a gyde,

"Which that thee may unto thy wittes lede.
Thow graspist heer and there as dooth the blynde,
And ay misgoost, and yit, have I no drede,
If thow receyve wilt into thy mynde
My lore and execute it, thow shalt fynde
Therin swich ese that thy maladie
Abregge it shal and thy malencolie.

"Ful holsum were it stynten of thy wo
And take unto thee spirit of gladnesse.
What profyt fyndest thow to mourne so?
Salomon seith that sorwe and hevynesse
Bones of man drieth by his duresse,
And herte glad makith florisshyng age;
Therfore I rede thow thy wo asswage.

"He seith: 'As motthes to a clooth annoyen
And of his wolle maken it al bare,
And also as wormes a tree destroien
Thurgh hir percynge, right so sorwe and care
Byreven man his helthe and his welfare
And his dayes abregge and shorte his lyf.'
Lo, what profyt is for to be pensyf?
"Now, goode sone, telle on thy grevance:
What is thy cause of thoght in special?
Haast thow of worldly goodes habundance
And carist how that it ykept be shal?
Or art thow needy and hast nat but smal,
And thristist sore a ryche man to be?
Or lovest hire that nat loveth thee?

"I have herd seyn, in keepynge of richesse
Is thoght and wo and bisy awayt alway. 3
The poore and needy eek hath hevynesse,
For to his purpos nat atteyne he may;
The lovere also seen men day by day
Prolle aftir that that he shal nevere fynde;
Thus thoght tormentith folk in sundry kynde.

"If thow thee feele in any of thise ygreeved
Or elles what, telle on, in Goddes name.
Thow seest al day the begger is releeved
That sit and beggith blynd, crookid, and lame,
And why? For he ne lettith for no shame
His harmes and his povert to bywreye
To folk as they goon by him in the weye.

"For and he keepe him cloos and holde his pees,
And nat out shewe how seek he inward is,
He may al day so sitten helpelees;
And, sone myn, althogh he fare amis
That hydeth so, God woot, the wyt is his;
But this begger his hurtes wole nat stele;
He wole telle al and more - he can naght hele.

"Right so, if thee list have a remedie
Of thyn annoy that prikkith thee so smerte,
The verray cause of thyn hid maladie
Thow moot deskevere and telle out al thyn herte.
If thow it hyde, thow shalt nat asterte
That thow ne falle shalt in sum meschance;
Forthy amende thow thy governance.

"Be waar of thoght, for it is perillous;
He the streight way to desconfort men ledith;
His violence is ful outrageous;
Unwys is he that bisy thoght ne dredith.
In whom that he his mortel venym shedith,
But if a vomyt aftir folwe blyve,
At the port of despeir he may arryve.

"Sone, swich thoght lurkynge thee withynne,
That huntith aftir thy confusioun,
Hy tyme it is to voide and lat him twynne,
And walke at large out of thy prisoun.
Be waar the feendes sly conclusioun,
For if he may thee unto despeir brynge,
Thow mourne shalt, and lawhe he wole and synge.

"Sum man for lak of occupacioun
Musith ferthere than his wit may strecche,
And at the feendes instigacioun
Dampnable errour holdith, and can nat flecche
For no conseil ne reed, as dide a wrecche
Nat fern ago, which that of heresie
Convict and brent was unto asshen drie.

"The precious body of our Lord Jhesu
In forme of brede he leeved nat at al;
He was in nothyng abassht ne eschu
To seye it was but brede material.
He seide a preestes power was as smal
As a rakers or swich anothir wight,
And to make it hadde no gretter might.

"My lord the Prince - God him save and blesse -
Was at his deedly castigacioun
And of his soule hadde greet tendrenesse,
Thristynge sore his sauvacioun.
Greet was his pitous lamentacioun
Whan that this renegat nat wolde blynne
Of the stynkynge errour that he was ynne.

"This good lord highte him to be swich a mene
To his fadir, our lige lord sovereyn,
If he renounce wolde his error clene
And come unto our good byleeve ageyn,
He sholde of his lyf seur been and certain;
And souffissant lyflode eek sholde he have
Unto the day he clad were in his grave.

"Also this noble prynce and worthy knyght -
God qwyte him his charitable labour -
Or any stikke kyndlid were or light,
The sacrament, our blessid Sauveour,
With reverence greet and hy honour,
He fecche leet, this wrecche to converte,
And make our feith to synken in his herte.

"But al for naght, it wolde nat betyde;
He heeld foorth his oppinioun dampnable,
And caste our holy Cristen feith asyde
As he that was to the feend acceptable.
By any outward tokne resonable,
If he inward hadde any repentance,
That woot He that of nothyng hath doutance.

"Lat the dyvynes of him speke and muse
Where his soule is bycome or whidir goon;
Myn unkonnynge of that me shal excuse;
Of swich mateere knowleche have I noon.
But wolde God tho Crystes foos echoon
That holde as he heeld were yserved so,
For I am seur that ther been many mo.

"The more routhe is! Allas, what men been they
That hem delyten in swich surquidrye?
For mannes reson may nat preeve our fey
That they wole it dispreeven or denye.
To our lord God that sitte in hevenes hye,
Shul they desyre for to been egal?
Nay, that was nevere, certes, ne be shal.

"That our lord God seith in Holy Scripture
May nat be fals, this knowith every wight
But he be mad; and thogh a creature
In his Goddes werk feele nat aright,
Shal he rebelle ageyn his lordes might,
Which that this wyde world hath maad of noght,
For reson may nat knytte it in his thoght?

"Was it nat eek a moustre as in nature
That God ybore was of a virgyne?
Yit is it sooth, thogh man by conjecture
Of reson or what he can ymagyne
Nat savoure it ne can it determyne.
He that almighty is dooth as him list;
He wole his konnynge hid be and nat wist.

"Our feith nat were unto us meritorie
If that we mighten by reson it preeve.
Lat us nat fro God twynnen and His glorie;
As Holy Chirche us bit, lat us byleeve.
But we therto obeye, it shal us greeve
Importably; lat us do as shee bit;
Oure goode fadres olde han folwed it.

"Presumpcion, a benedicitee!
Why vexest thow folk with thy franesie,
Thogh nothyng elles were, I seye for me?
But see how that the worthy prelacie,
And undir hem the souffissant clergie,
Endowid of profounde intelligence,
Of al this land werreyen thy sentence.

"That selve same to me were a brydil
By which wolde I governed been and gyed,
And elles al my labour were in ydil.
By Holy Chirche I wole be justified;
To that al hoolly is myn herte applied,
And evere shal. I truste in Goddes grace;
Swich surquidrie in me shal have no place.

"Sone, if God wole, thow art noon of tho
That wrappid been in this dampnacioun?"
"I? Cryst forbeede it, sire," seide I tho.
"I thanke it God, noon inclinacioun
Have I to laboure in probacioun
Of His hy knowleche and His mighty werkis,
For swich mateere unto my wit to derk is.

"Of our feith wole I nat despute at al,
But at o word, I in the sacrament
Of the auter fully byleeve and shal,
With Goddes help, whil lyf is to me lent,
And in despit of the feendes talent,
In alle othir articles of the feith
Byleeve as fer as that Holy Writ seith."

"Now good thrift come unto thee, sone deere;
Thy goost is now awakid wel, I see,
And sumwhat eek amendid is thy cheere.
And first I was ful sore agast of thee,
Lest that thow thurgh thoghtful adversitee
Nat haddest standen in thy feith aright;
Now is myn herte woxen glad and light.

"Hast thow in me any gretter savour
Than that thow haddest first whan thow me sy,
Whan I opposid thee of thy langour?
Seye on the soothe." "Yee, sumdel," quod I.
"My sone, in feith that is seid ful feyntly;
Thy savour yit ful smal is, as I trowe,
But or aght longe I shal the soothe knowe.
"I woot wel, sone, of me thus wilt thow thynke:
This olde dotid grisel halt him wys; 4
He weeneth maken in myn heed to synke
His lewde clap, of which sette I no prys.
He is a noble prechour at devys;
Greet noyse hath thurgh his chynned lippes drye
This day out past, the devel in his ye.

"But thogh I old and hoor be, sone myn,
And poore be my clothynge and array,
And nat so wyde a gowne have as is thyn -
So smal ypynchid ne so fressh and gay -
My reed in hap yit thee profyte may,
And likly that thow deemest for folie
Is gretter wysdam than thow canst espie.

"Undir an old poore habyt regneth ofte
Greet vertu, thogh it moustre poorely;
And whereas greet array is up on lofte,
Vice is but seelden hid - that wel woot I.
But nat reporte, I preye thee, inwardly,
That fressh array I generally deprave;
Thise worthy men mowe it wel use and have.

"But this me thynkith an abusioun,
To see oon walke in gownes of scarlet
Twelve yerdes wyde, with pendaunt sleeves doun
On the ground, and the furrour therin set,
Amountyng unto twenti pound or bet.
And if he for it paied have, he no good
Hath left him wherwith for to bye an hood.

"For thogh he gette foorth among the prees
And overlooke every poore wight,
His cofre and eek his purs been penylees;
He hath no more than he gooth in right.
For land, rente, or catel he may go light;
The weighte of hem shal nat so moche peise
As dooth his gowne. Is swich array to preise?

"Nay, soothly, sone, it is al mis, me thynkith,
So poore a wight his lord to countrefete
In his array; in my conceit it stynkith.
Certes to blame been the lordes grete,
If that I durste seyn, that hir men lete
Usurpe swich a lordly apparaille;
It is nat worth, my chyld, withouten faille.

"Sumtyme afer men mighten lordes knowe
By hir array from othir folk, but now
A man shal studie and musen a long throwe
Which is which. O lordes, it sit to yow
Amende this, for it is for your prow;
If twixt yow and your men no difference
Be in array, lesse is your reverence.

"Also ther is anothir neewe get:
A foul waast of clooth and an excessyf
Ther gooth, no lesse in a mannes typet
Than of brood clooth a yerde, by my lyf;
Me thynkith this a verray inductyf
Unto stelthe. Waar hem of hempen lane,
For stelthe is medid with a chekelewe bane.

"Let every lord his owne men deffende
Swich greet array, and thanne, on my peril,
This land withynne a whyle shal amende.
In Goddes name, putte it in exyl;
It is a synne outrageous and vyl;
Lordes, if yee your estat and honour
Loven, fleemeth this vicious errour.

"What is a lord withouten his meynee?
I putte cas that his foos him assaille
Sodeynly in the street: what help shal he
Whos sleeves encombrous so syde traille
Do to his lord? He may him nat availle;
In swich a cas he nis but a womman;
He may nat stande him in stide of a man.

"His armes two han right ynow to doone,
And sumwhat more, his sleeves up to holde.
The taillours, trowe I, moot heeraftir soone
Shape in the feeld; they shul nat sprede and folde
On hir bord, thogh they nevere so fayn wolde,
The clooth that shal been in a gowne wroght;
Take an hool clooth is best, for lesse is noght.

"The skynner unto the feeld moot also -
His hous in Londoun is to streit and scars
To doon his craft; sumtyme it was nat so.
O lordes, geve unto your men hir pars
That so doon, and aqweynte hem bet with Mars,
God of bataille; he loveth noon array
That hurtith manhode at preef or assay.

"Who now moost may bere on his bak at ones
Of clooth and furrour hath a fressh renoun;
He is a lusty man clept, for the nones.
But drapers and eek skynners in the toun
For swich folk han a special orisoun,
That droppid is with curses heer and there,
And ay shal til they paied be for hir gere.

"In dayes olde, whan smal apparaille
Souffysid unto hy estat or mene,
Was greet houshold wel stuffid of vitaille;
But now housholdes been ful sclendre and lene,
For al the good that men may repe or glene
Waastid is in outrageous array,
So that housholdes men nat holde may.

"Pryde hath wel lever bere an hungry mawe
To bedde than lak of array outrage.
He no prys settith by mesures lawe,
Ne takith of him clooth, mete, ne wage;
Mesure is out of land on pilgrimage;
But I suppose he shal resorte as blyve,
For verray neede wole us therto dryve.

"Ther may no lord take up no neewe gyse
But that a knave shal the same up take.
If lordes wolden wirken in this wyse
For to do swiche gownes to hem make
As men dide in old tyme, I undirtake,
The same get sholde up be take and usid,
And al this costlewe outrage refusid.

"Of Lancastre Duk John, whos soule in hevene
I fully deeme and truste sit ful hye -
A noble prince, I may allegge and nevene -
Othir may no man of him testifie;
I nevere sy a lord that cowde him gye
Bet lyk his estat; al knyghtly prowesse
Was to him girt - o God, his soule blesse!

"His garnementes weren nat ful wyde,
And yit they him becam wondirly wel.
Now wolde God the waast of clooth and pryde
Yput were in exyl perpetuel
For the good and profyt universel;
And lordes mighte helpe al this, if they wolde
The old get take, and it foorth use and holde.

"Than mighte silver walke more thikke
Among the peple than that it dooth now.
Ther wolde I fayn that were yset the prikke -
Nat for myself, I shal do wel ynow -
But, sone, for that swiche men as thow,
That with the world wrastlen, mighte han plentee
Of coyn, whereas yee han now scarsetee.

"Now hath this land but litil neede of bromes
To sweepe away the filthe out of the street,
Syn syde sleeves of penylees gromes
Wole it up likke, be it drie or weet.
O Engeland, stande upright on thy feet!
So foul a waast in so symple degree
Banisshe, or sore it shal repente thee.

"If a wight vertuous but narwe clothid
To lordes courtes now adayes go,
His conpaignie is unto folkes lothid;
Men passen by him bothe to and fro,
And scorne him for he is arraied so.
To hir conceit is no wight vertuous
But he that of array is outrageous.

"But he that flatere can or be a baude,
And by tho tweyne fressh array him gete,
It holden is to him honour and laude.
Trouthe and clennesse musten men forgete
In lordes courtes, for they hertes frete;
They hyndren folk. Fy upon tonges treewe!
They displesance in lordes courtes breewe.

"Lo, sone myn, that tale is at an eende.
Now, goode sone, have of me no desdeyn,
Thogh I be old and myn array untheende,
For many a yong man, woot I wel certeyn,
Of corage is so prowd and so hauteyn
That to the poore and old mannes doctryne
Ful seelde him deyneth bowen or enclyne.

"Senek seith, age is an infirmitee
That leche noon can cure ne it hele,
For to the deeth next neigheburgh is he.
Ther may no wight the chartre of lyf ensele;
The ende is deeth of male and of femele;
Nothyng is more certeyn than deeth is,
Ne more uncerteyn than the tyme, ywis.
"As touchynge age, God in Holy Writ
Right thus seith: 'Fadir and modir honure,
That thow maist be long-lyved' - thus he bit.
Than moot it folwen upon this scripture,
Age is a guerdoun to a creature,
And long-lyved is noon withouten age,
Wherfore I seye, in elde is avauntage;

"And the reward of God may nat be smal;
His giftes been ful noble and profitable;
Forthy ne lakke thow nat age at al.
Whan youthe is past is age sesonable;
Age hath insighte how unseur and unstable
This worldes cours is by lengthe of his yeeres,
And can deffende him from his sharpe breres.

"Lord, whethir it be maistrie to knowe
Whan a man ofte hath sundry weyes ride,
Which is the beste? Nay, for soothe, I trowe,
Right so he that hath many a world abide
There he in youthe wroghte mis or dide,
His age it seeth and bit him it eschue
And seekith weyes covenable and due.

"Whan that thow hast assayed bothe two,
Sad age, I seye, aftir thy skittissh yowthe,
As thow moot needes atteyne therto
Or sterve yong, than trowe I thow wilt bowe thee
To swiche conceites as I have nowthe,
And thanke God devoutly in thyn herte
That He hath suffrid thee thy yowthe asterte.

"Youthe ful smal reward hath to goodnesse,
And peril dredith he noon, woot I wel;
Al his devocion and holynesse
At the taverne is, as for the moost del;
To Bachus signe and to the levesel
His youthe him halith, and whan it him happith
To chirche goon, of nycetee he clappith.
"The cause why men oghten thidir goon,
Nat cause can his wilde steerissh heed
To folwen it. Also, boote is it noon
To telle it him, for thogh men sowen seed
Of vertu, in a yong man it is deed;
As blyve his rebel goost it mortifieth.
Al thyng sauf folie in a yong man dieth.

"Whan I was yong, I was ful rechelees,
Prowd, nyce, and riotous for the maistrie,
And among othir, consciencelees.
By that sette I nat the worth of a flie;
And of hem hauntid I the conpaignie
That wente on pilgrimage to taverne,
Which before unthrift berith the lanterne.

"There offred I wel more than my tythe,
And withdrow Holy Chirche his duetee.
My freendes me conseillid often sythe
That I with lownesse and humilitee
To my curat go sholde and make his gree,
But straw, unto hir reed wolde I nat bowe
For aght they cowden preyen alle or wowe!

"Whan folk wel reuled dressid hem to bedde
In tyme due by reed of nature,
To the taverne qwikly I me spedde
And pleide at dees whil the nyght wolde endure.
There the former of every creature
Dismembred I with oothes grete, and rente
Lym fro lym or that I thennes wente.

"And ofte it fals was that I swoor or spak,
For the desir fervent of covetyse
Fond in perjurie no deffaute or lak,
But evere entyced me that in al wyse
Myne oothes grete I sholde excercyse,
And specially for lucre, in al maneere,
Swere and forswere with bold face and cheere.
"But this condicioun, lo, hadde I evere:
Thogh I prowd were in wordes or in speeche,
Whan strokes cam, a place I gan dissevere;
Fro my felawes soghte I nevere leeche
For hurt which that I took; what sholde I seeche
A salve whan I therof had no neede?
I hurtlees was ay thurgh impressid dreede.

"Tho mighte I spende an hundred mark by yeer,
Al thyng deduct, my sone, I gabbe noght.
I was so prowd, I heeld no man my peere;
In pryde and leccherie was al my thoght.
No more I hadde set therby or roght
A wyf or mayde or nonne to deffoule
Than sheete or pleyen at the bal or boule.

"Right nyce girles at my retenue
Had I an heep, wyves and othir mo -
What so they were, I wolde noon eschue;
And yeeres fele I continued so.
Allas, I nothyng was waar of the wo
That folwed me; I lookid nat behynde;
Conceites yonge been ful dirk and blynde.

"An office also hadde I lucratyf,
And wan ynow, God woot, and mochil more,
But nevere thoghte I in al my yong lyf
What I unjustly gat for to restore,
Wherfore I now repente wondir sore;
As it misgoten was, mis was despendid,
Of which our lord God greetly was offendid.

"He sy I nolde absteene for no good
Of myn outrageous iniquitee,
And whan that His lust was, withdrow the flood
Of welthe, and at ground ebbe sette He me;
With povert for my gilt me feffid He.
Swich wreche took He for my cursid synne;
No more good have I than I stonde ynne.
"Gold, silver, jewel, clooth, beddyng, array -
Ne have I noon othir than thow maist see;
Pardee, this bare old russet is nat gay,
And in my purs so grete sommes be
That ther nis contour in al Cristientee
Which that hem can at any noumbre sette.
That shalt thow see, my purs I wole unshette.

"Come hidir to me, sone, and looke whethir
In this purs ther be any crois or crouche
Sauf nedel and threde and themel of lethir;
Heer seestow naght that man may handele or touche.
The feend, men seyn, may hoppen in a pouche
Whan that no crois therynne may appeere,
And by my purs the same I may seye heere.

"O, where is now al the wantoun moneye
That I was maistir of and governour,
Whan I kneew nat what povert was to seye?
Now is povert the glas and the mirour
In which I see my God, my sauveour.
Or povert cam, wiste I nat what God was,
But now I knowe and see Him in this glas.

"And where be my gownes of scarlet,
Sangwyn, murray, and blewes sadde and lighte;
Greenes also, and the fair violet;
Hors and harneys, fressh and lusty in sighte -
My wikkid lyf hath put al this to flighte.
But, certes, yit me greeveth moost of alle,
My frendshipe is al clene fro me falle.

"O whyle I stood in wele, I was honurid
And many oon of my conpaignie glad,
And now I am mislookid on and lourid;
Ther rekkith noon how wo I be bystad.
O Lord, this world unstable is and unsad;
This world honureth nat mannes persone
For himself, sone, but for good allone.
"Ful sooth fynde I the word of Salomon,
That to moneie obeien alle thynges;
For that my coyn and coynworth is agoon,
Contrarien they my wil and my biddynges,
That in my welthe with hir flaterynges
Heelden with me what that I wroghte or seide;
Now disobeyen they that thanne obeide.

"Now seyn they thus: 'I wiste wel alway
That him destroie wolde his fool largesse;
I tolde him so and evere he seide nay.'
And yit they lien, also God me blesse;
They me conforted ay in myn excesse,
And seide I was a manly man withalle;
Hir hony wordes tornen me to galle.

"God, which of His benigne courtesie,
And of His cheere lovynge tendrenesse,
He of the synful hath nat wole he die,
But lyve for to amende his wikkidnesse;
Him thanke I and His infynyt goodnesse;
His grace lykith that thurgh worldly peyne
My soule eschape may the feendes cheyne.

"Job hadde an hevyer fal than I, pardee,
For he was clumben hyer in richesse,
And paciently he his adversitee
Took, as the Byble bere can witnesse.
And aftirward, God al his hevynesse
Torned to joie, and so may He do myn
Whan that it lykith to His myght devyn.

"Lord, as Thee list, right so Thow to me do;
But evere I hope seur been of that place
Which that Thy mercy boght us hath unto,
If that us list for to sue Thy grace.
A! Lord almighty, in my lyves space,
Of my gilt graunte Thow me repentance,
And Thy strook take in greable souffrance.
"I cowde of youthe han talkid more and told
Than I have doon, but the day passith swythe,
And eek me lever is by many fold
Thy greef to knowe which that sit so ny thee.
Telle on anoon, my goode sone, and hye thee,
And I shal herknen as thow hast doon me,
And, as I can, wole I conseille thee."

"Grant mercy, deere fadir, of your speeche.
Yee han right wel me conforted and esid;
And hertily I preye yow and byseeche,
What I first to yow spak, be nat displesid;
It reewith me if I yow have disesid,
And meekly yow byseeche I of pardoun,
Me submittynge unto correccioun.

"I woot wel first, whan that I with yow mette,
I was ful mad and spak ful rudely.
Thogh I nat slepte, yit my spirit mette
Ful angry dremes; thoght ful bysyly
Vexid my goost so that nothyng wiste I
What that I to yow spak or what I thoghte,
But heer and there I myselven soghte.

"I preye yow, deemeth nat that in despyt
I hadde yow for age or povertee;
I mente it nat, but I stood in swich plyt
That it was nothyng likly unto me,
Thogh yee had knowen al my privetee,
That yee mighten my greef thus han abregged
As yee han doon, so sore I was agregged.

"Fadir, as wysly God me save and speede,
Yee been nat he whom that I wende han fownde;
Yee been to me ful welcome in this neede.
I woot wel yee in hy vertu habownde;
Your wys reed hope I hele shal my wownde;
My day of helthe is present, as me thynkith;
Your confort deepe into myn herte synkith.
"Myn herte seith that your benevolence,
Of routhe meeved and verray pitee
Of my wo, dooth his peyne and diligence
Me to releeve of myn infirmitee.
O, goode fadir, blessid moot yee be,
That han swich routhe of my woful estat,
Which wel ny was of helthe desperat.

"But, fadir, thogh ther be dyversitee
Ful greet betwixt your excellent prudence
And the folie that regneth in me,
Yit, God it woot, ful litil difference
Is ther betwixt the hete and the fervence
Of love which to agid folk yee have
And myn, althogh yee deeme I hem deprave.

"For if that I the soothe shal confesse,
The lak of olde mennes cherisshynge
Is cause and ground of al myn hevynesse
And encheson of my woful mournynge.
That shal yee knowe, if it be your lykynge
The cause wite of myn adversitee."
"Yis, telle on in the name of Cryst," seide he.

"Sauf first, or thow any ferther proceede,
O thyng of thee wite wolde I, my sone:
Wher dwellist thow?" "Fadir, withouten dreede,
In the office of the Privee Seel I wone
And wryte - there is my custume and wone
Unto the Seel, and have twenti yeer
And foure come Estren, and that is neer."

"Now sikir, sone, that is a fair tyme;
The tokne is good of thy continuance.
Come hidir, goode, and sitte adoun heer by me,
For I moot reste a whyle; it is penance
To me thus longe walke - it dooth nusance
Unto my crookid, feeble lymes olde,
That been so stif, unnethe I may hem folde."
Whan I was set adoun as he me preide,
"Telle on," seide he, "how is it with thee, how?"
And I began my tale and thus I seide:
"My lige lord, the kyng which that is now,
I fynde to me gracious ynow;
God yilde him, he hath for my long servyse
Guerdouned me in covenable wyse.

"In th'eschequeer, he of his special grace
Hath to me grauntid an annuitee
Of twenti mark whyle I have lyves space.
Mighte I ay payd been of that duetee,
It sholde stonde wel ynow with me;
But paiement is hard to gete adayes,
And that me putte in many foule affrayes.

"It gooth ful streite and sharpe or I it have.
If I seur were of it be satisfied
Fro yeer to yeer, thanne, so God me save,
My deepe-rootid greef were remedied
Souffissantly. But how I shal be gyed
Heeraftir, whan that I no lenger serve -
This hevyeth me so that I wel ny sterve.

"For syn that I now in myn age greene,
And beynge in court, with greet peyne unnethe
Am paid, in elde and out of court, I weene,
My purs for that may be a ferthyng shethe;
Lo, fadir myn, this dullith me to dethe.
Now God helpe al, for but he me socoure,
My future yeeres lyk been to be soure."

"Service, I woot wel, is noon heritage;
Whan I am out of court anothir day,
As I moot whan upon me hastith age
And that no lenger I laboure may,
Unto my poore cote, it is no nay,
I moot me drawe and my fortune abyde,
And suffre storm aftir the mery tyde.
"Ther preeve I shal the mutabilitee
Of this wrecchid worldes affeccion,
Which, whan that youthe is past, begynneth flee.
Frendshipe, adieu! Farwel, dileccion!
Age is put out of your proteccion;
His look unlusty and his inpotence
Qwenchith your love and your benevolence.

"That aftirclap in my mynde so deepe
Yficchid is, and hath swich roote ycaght,
That al my joie and mirthe is leid to sleepe;
My ship is wel ny with despeir yfraght.
They that nat konne lerned be ne taght
By swiche ensamples smerte as they han seen,
Me thynkith certes over blynde been.

"Allas! I see routhe and pitee exylid
Out of this land. Allas, conpassioun!
Whan shul yee thre to us be reconsylid?
Your absence is my grevous passioun;
Resorte, I preye yow, to this regioun;
O, come ageyn! The lak of your presence
Manaceth me to sterve in indigence.

"O fikil world, allas thy variance!
How many a gentil man may men now see
That whilom in the werres olde of France
Honured were and holde in greet cheertee
For hir prowesse in armes, and plentee
Of freendes hadde in youthe, and now, for shame,
Allas, hir frendshipe is crookid and lame!

"Now age unourne away puttith favour
That floury youthe in his seson conquerde;
Now al forgote is the manly labour
Thurgh which ful ofte they hir foos aferde.
Now been tho worthy men bet with the yerde
Of neede, allas, and noon hath of hem routhe;
Pitee I trowe is biried, by my trouthe.
"If shee be deed, God have hir soule, I preye,
And so shal mo heeraftir preye, I trowe.
He that pretendith him of moost nobleye,
If he hir lakke, shal wel wite and knowe
That crueltee hir fo may but a throwe
Him suffre for to lyve in any welthe;
Herte pitous to body and soule is helthe.

"Yee olde men of armes, that han knowe
By sight and by report hir worthynesse,
Lat nat mescheef tho men thus overthrowe;
Kythe upon hem your manly gentillesse.
Yee yonge men that entre into prowesse
Of armes eek, youre fadres olde honurith;
Helpe hem yourself, or sum good hem procurith.

"Knyghthode, awake! Thow sleepist to longe;
Thy brothir, see, ny dieth for mescheef;
Awake and reewe upon his peynes stronge.
If thow heeraftir come unto swich preef,
Thow wilt ful sore thriste aftir releef;
Thow art nat seur what that thee shal befalle.
Welthe is ful slipir; be waar lest thow falle.

"Thow that yclomben art in hy honoures,
And hast this worldes welthe at thy devys,
And bathist now in youthes lusty floures;
Be waar, rede I, thow standist on the ys.
It hath been seen, as weleful and as wys
As thow han slide; and thow that no pitee
On othir folk hast, who shal reewe on thee?

"Leeve me wel, ther is noon eerthely man
That hath so stable a welthe but that it
May faille, do he what that he do can.
God as him list visitith folk and smit;
Wherfore I deeme and holde it grace and wit
In hy estat, man God and himself knowe,
And releeve hem that mescheef hath doun throwe.
"God wole that the needy be releeved;
It is oon of the werkis of mercy.
And syn tho men that been in armes preeved
Been into povert falle, treewely
Yee men of armes oghten specially
Helpe hem. Allas! han yee no pitous blood
That may yow stire for to doon hem good?

"O now in ernest, deere fadir myn,
Thise worthy men to me the mirour shewe
Of slipir frendshipe, and unto what fyn
I drawe shal withyn a yeeres fewe.
Upon this woful thoght I hakke and hewe
And muse so that unto lyte I madde,
And lever die than lyven I hadde.

"In feith, fadir, my lyflode, besyde
Th'annuite of which above I tolde,
May nat exceede yeerly in no tyde
Six marc. That sit to myn herte so colde,
Whan that I looke abouten and beholde
How scars it is, if that that othir faille,
That I nat glade can but mourne and waille.

"And as ferfoorth as I can deeme or gesse,
Whan I at hoom dwelle in my poore cote,
I fynde shal as freendly slipirnesse
As tho men now doon, whos frendshipe is rote.
Nat wolde I rekke as mochil as a mote,
Thogh I no more hadde of yeerly encrees,
So that I mighte ay payed be doutlees.

"Two parties of my lyf and mochil more
I seur am past been - I ne doute it noght;
And if that I sholde in my yeeres hore
Forgo my duetee that I have boght
With my flessh and my blood, that hevy thoght,
Which I drede ay shal falle as I it thynke,
Me hastith blyve unto my pittes brynke.
Faylynge, fadir, myn annuitee,
Foot-hoot in me creepith disese and wo,
For they that han byfore knowen me,
Faylynge good, me faille wole also.
Who no good hath is fer his freendes fro.
In muk is al this worldes freendlyhede;
My goost is wrappid in an hevy drede.

"If that I hadde of custume or this tyme
Lyved in indigences wrecchidnesse,
The lesse heeraftir sholde it sit by me;
But in myn age wrastle with hardnesse,
That with him stroglid nevere in the grennesse
Of youthe - that mutacion and chaunge
Anothir day me seeme sholde al straunge.

"He that nevere kneew the swetnesse of wele,
Thogh he it lakke ay, lesse him greeve it shal
Than him that hath been welthy yeeres fele,
And in effect hath felt no greef at al.
O povert, God me sheelde fro thy fal!
O deeth! Thy strook yit is more agreable
To me than lyve a lyf so miserable.

"Six marc yeerly and no more than that,
Fadir, to me me thynkith is ful lyte,
Considerynge how that I am nat
In housbondrye lerned worth a myte;
Scarsely kowde I charre away the kyte
That me byreve wolde my pullaille,
And more axith housbondly governaille.

"With plow can I nat medlen ne with harwe,
Ne woot nat what lond good is for what corn,
And for to lade a cart or fille a barwe,
To which I nevere usid was toforn;
My bak unbuxum hath swich thyng forsworn,
At instaunce of wrytynge, his werreyour,
That stowpynge hath him spilt with his labour.
"Many men, fadir, weenen that wrytynge
No travaille is; they holde it but a game;
Aart hath no fo but swich folk unkonnynge.
But whoso list desporte him in that same,
Let him continue and he shal fynde it grame;
It is wel gretter labour than it seemeth;
The blynde man of colours al wrong deemeth.

"A wryter moot thre thynges to him knytte,
And in tho may be no disseverance:
Mynde, ye, and hand - noon may from othir flitte,
But in hem moot be joynt continuance;
The mynde al hool, withouten variance,
On ye and hand awayte moot alway,
And they two eek on him, it is no nay.

"Whoso shal wryte, may nat holde a tale
With him and him, ne synge this ne that;
But al his wittes hoole, grete and smale,
Ther muste appeere and holden hem therat;
And syn he speke may ne synge nat,
But bothe two he needes moot forbere,
His labour to him is the elengere.

"Thise artificers see I day by day,
In the hootteste of al hir bysynesse,
Talken and synge and make game and play,
And foorth hir labour passith with gladnesse;
But we laboure in travaillous stilnesse;
We stowpe and stare upon the sheepes skyn,
And keepe moot our song and wordes yn.

"Wrytyng also dooth grete annoyes thre,
Of which ful fewe folkes taken heede
Sauf we ourself, and thise, lo, they be:
Stommak is oon, whom stowpynge out of dreede
Annoyeth sore; and to our bakkes neede
Moot it be grevous; and the thridde oure yen
Upon the whyte mochil sorwe dryen.
"What man that three and twenti yeer and more
In wrytynge hath continued, as have I,
I dar wel seyn, it smertith him ful sore
In every veyne and place of his body;
And yen moost it greeveth, treewely,
Of any craft that man can ymagyne.
Fadir, in feith, it spilt hath wel ny myne.

"Lo, fadir, told have I yow the substance
Of al my greef, so as that I can telle.
But wel I woot it hath been greet penance
To yow with me so longe for to dwelle;
I am right sikir it hath been an helle
Yow for to herkne me thus jangle and clappe,
So lewdly in my termes I me wrappe.

"But, nathelees, truste I your pacience
Receyve wole in gree my wordes alle,
And what misseid I have of negligence,
Yee wole it lete asyde slippe and falle.
My fadir deere, unto your grace I calle;
Yee woot my greef; now redith me the beste,
Withouten whom my goost can have no reste."

"Now, sone myn, hastow al seid and spoke
That thee good lykith?" "Yee, fadir, as now."
"Sone, if aght in thyn herte elles be loke,
Unloke it blyve. Come of, what seistow?"
"Fadir, I can no more telle yow
Than I before spoken have and said."
"A Goddes half, sone, I am wel apaid.

"Conceyved have I that thow greet fere haast
Of povert for to fallen in the snare;
Thow haast therynne caght so deep a taast
That of al joie thow art voide and bare.
Thow ny despeired art of al welfare,
And the strook of povert art thow fer fro;
For shame, why makist thow al this wo?
"I putte cas, as God therfro thee keepe,
Thow were yfalle in indigent povert.
Sholdest thow grucche and thyn annoy byweepe?
Nay, be thow ryche or poore, or seek or qwert,
God thanke alway of thyn ese and thy smert;
Pryde thee nat for no prosperitee,
Ne hevye thee for noon adversitee.

"Povert hath in himself ynow grevance
Withouten that that man him more purchace;
Whoso it takth in pacient souffrance,
It is ful plesant beforn Crystes face;
And whoso grucchith, forfetith that grace
That he sholde han if that his pacience
Withstood the greef and made it resistence.

"My sone, as witnessith Holy Scripture,
Discreet and honest povert many fold
Commendid is. Cryst Himself, I thee ensure,
To love and teche and prechen it hath wold;
He dide al this. Be thow nevere so bold
Ageyn povert heeraftir grucche, I rede;
For ferthermore, in Holy Writ I rede:

"Beholde the lyf of our Sauveour,
Right fro the tyme of His nativitee
Unto His deeth, as that seith myn auctour,
And tokne in it shalt thow noon fynde or se
But of povert with which content was He.
Is man bettre than God? Shal man eschue
Swich lyf, syn God that same wolde ay sue?

"Fy! It is to greet an abusioun
To seen a man that is but wormes mete
Desire ryche and greet possessioun,
Wheras our lord God wolde Him entremete
Of no richesse - He deyned it nat gete;
He lyved poorely and povert chees,
That mighte han been ful ryche, it is no lees.
"The poore man sleepith ful sikirly
On nyghtes, thogh his dore be nat shit,
Whereas the riche abedde bysyly
Castith and ymagyneth in his wit
That necessarie unto him is it
Barres and lokkes stronge for to have,
His good from theeves for to keepe and save.

"And whan the deed sleep fallith atte laste
On him, he dremeth theeves comen yn
And on his cofres knokke and leye on faste;
And some hem pyke with a sotil gyn,
And up is broken lok, hasp, barre, and pyn,
And in the hand gooth, and the bagge out takith,
For sorwe of which, out of his sleep he wakith;

"And up he rysith, foot and hand tremblynge,
As that assaillid him the palesie,
And at a stirt, withouten taryynge,
Unto his cofre he dressith him in hye;
Or he ther come, he is in poynt to dye;
He it undooth and opneth for to se
If that his false goddes therin be.

"He dredith fynde it as that he hath drempt.
This worldes power and ryche habundance
Of drede of peril nevere been exempt,
But in povert is ay sikir constance;
Who holdith him content hath souffissance.
And, sone, by my reed thow shalt do so,
And by desir of good nat sette a slo.

"Wilful povert in princes ancien
So ferfoorth was that they desired more
Good loos than good, but now adayes men
Yerne and desyren aftir muk so sore
That they good fame han leid a watir yore,
And rekken nevere how longe it ther stepe
Or thogh it drenche, so they good may grepe.
"Of Sysile whilom ther was a kyng
With eerthen vessel served at his table,
And men wondrynge faste upon this thyng
Seide unto him, it was nat honurable
To his estat, ne nothyng commendable,
Axynge him why him list be served so;
To which demande he answerde tho:

"He seide, 'Thogh I kyng be of Sysile,
A potter was my fadir, it is no nay.
How longe I shal enduren or what while
In my prosperitee, nat knowe I may.
Fortunes variaunce I drede alway;
Right as shee made me to clymbe on highte,
Sodeynly so shee may me make alighte.

"'I thynke alway of my nativitee,
And of my poore lenage and my blood;
Eerthen vessel to swich a man as me
Ful sittyng is and acceptable and good.'
O fewe been ther now left of the brood
That he cam of - he loved bet profyt
Commun than his avantage or delyt.

"How seistow by Affrican Scipion -
Affrican clept for that he Affrik wan?
To povert hadde he swich affecion
Of his owne free wil and lust, that whan
He dyde, no good had this worthy man
Wherwith his body upon eerthe brynge,
But the commun cost made his enterynge.

"Beforn the senat was he bore on honde,
Ones aftir he Affrik wonnen hadde,
That he was ryche, as they cowde undirstonde,
Of gold, to which with wordes sobre and sadde
Answerde he thus: 'Thogh I be feeble and badde,
The soothe is, unto your subjeccioun
I gat Affrik, of that have I renoun.
"'My name was al that I there gat;
To wynne honour was oonly the purpoos
Which that I took or that I cam therat.
Othir good had I noon than ryche loos;
For al the good ther was open or cloos,
Myn herte mighte nat so wel contente
As the renoun oonly that I ther hente.

"Of covetyse he was nothyng coupable;
He sette nat therby, thow maist wel se.
Fy on the greedynesse insaciable
Of many a man that can nat content be
Of muk, althogh nevere so moche have he!
The kynde is evere of wrecchid covetyse
To coveite ay and have and nat souffyse.

"I wolde every knyght dide now the same,
And were of good no more coveitous
Than he was. What! To gete a noble fame
To knyghthode is tresor moost precious;
But I was nevere so aventurous
Renoun to wynne by swerdes conquest,
For I was bred in a peisible nest.

"Upon my bak cam nevere haburgeon,
Ne my knyf drow I nevere in violence.
I may nat countrefete Scipion
In armes, ne his worthy excellence
Of wilful povert, but of indigence
I am as ryche as was evere any man;
Suffre it in pacience if that I can.

"No rycher man am I than thow maist see.
Of myne have I nothyng to take to;
I lyve of almesse. If it stood with thee
So streite and lyvedest as that I do,
I see thow woldest sorwe swiche two
As I; but thow hast for to lyven oon
A poore lyf, and swich ne have I noon.
"Salomon gaf conseil men sholden preye
Two thynges unto God in soothfastnesse.
Now herkne, sone, he bad men thus to seye:
'Enhance thow me, Lord, to no richesse,
Ne by miserie me so sore oppresse
That neede for to begge me conpelle' -
In his proverbes thus, lo, can he telle.

"But this povert mene conseillid he
Men to desire that was necessarie
To foode and clothe, dredynge lest plentee
Of good hem mighte make to miscarie
And fro the knowlechynge of God to varie,
And lest smert neede made hem God reneye.
Now be waar, sone, lest that thow foleye.

"Sone, in this mene povert holde I thee,
Sauf that thow canst nat taken it ful weel.
What thogh thow leese thyn annuitee?
Yit maistow lyven on that othir deel,
Thogh nat ful delicat shal be thy meel.
Of six marc yeerly, mete and drynke and clooth
Thow gete maist, my chyld, withouten ooth."

"Yee, fadir myn, I am nat so parfyt
To take it so; I have had habundance
Of welfare ay, and now stonde in the plyt
Of scarsetee. It were a greet penance
For me - God sheelde me fro that streit chance.
Six marc yeerly to scars is to susteene
The charges that I have, as that I weene.

"Tow on my distaf have I for to spynne
More, my fadir, than yee woot of yit,
Which yee shul knowe or that I fro yow twynne,
If your good lust be for to heeren it.
But for as moche as it nat to me sit
Your tale for to interrupte or breke,
Heeraftir to yow wole I therof speke.
"Yit o word, fadir. I have herd men seyn,
Whoso no good hath, that he can no good;
And that fynde I a plat soothe and a pleyn.
For althogh that myn heed undir myn hood
Was nevere wys, yit whyl it with me stood
So that I hadde silver resonable,
My lytil wit was sumwhat covenable.

"But now, for that I have a large lyte,
And likly am heeraftir to han lesse,
My dul wit can to me nothyng profyte;
I am so drad of moneyes scantnesse
That myn herte is al nakid of lightnesse.
Wisseth me how to gete a golden salve
And what I have I wole it with yow halve."

"Sone, as for me, neithir avaunte ne rere
But if disese algates shal betyde,
For to be pacient rede I thow lere;
For anythyng, withholde hir on thy syde.
My reed wole it nat, sone, fro thee hyde.
Make of necessitee, rede I, vertu,
For bettre reed can I noon, by Jhesu.

"My sone, they that swymmen in richesse
Continuelly, and han prosperitee,
And nevere han felt but weleful swetnesse,
Unscourgid ay of any adversitee,
Lest God forgete hem, oghten ferdful be,
Syn God in Holy Writ seith in this wyse:
'Whomso I love, him wole I chastyse.'

"Seint Ambroses legende seith how he
Ones to Romeward took his viage;
And in Tuscie toward that contree
With a ryche oost he took his herbergage.
Of whom, as blyve faire in his langage,
Of his estat enqueren he bygan,
And unto that answerde anoon this man:
"'Right at my lust have I al worldly welthe;
Myn estat hath been ay good, and yit is;
Richesse have I, frendshipe, and bodyes helthe;
Was nevere thyng me happid yit amis.'
And Seint Ambrose, astoned sore of this,
Anoon right rowned to his conpaignie,
'Sires, it is tyme that we hens hie.

"'I am adrad God is nat in this place;
Ga we faste hennes, lest that His vengeance
Falle on us.' And withynne a litil space,
Aftir they were agoon, shoop this meschance:
The ground claf and made disseverance,
And in sank man, womman, chyld, hous, and al
That to him appartened, grete and smal.

"Whan this cam to Ambroses audience,
He seide to his felawshipe thus:
'Lo, brethren, seeth heere in experience
How merciablely our lord Jhesus,
Of His benigne grace, hath sparid us.
He sparith hem that unwelthy heere been,
And to the welthy dooth as that yee seen.'

"This lyf, my sone, is but a chirie feire;
Worldly richesse, have ay in thy memorie,
Shal passe, al looke it nevere on men so feire.
Whyl thow art heere in this world transitorie,
Enable thee to wynne eternel glorie,
Wher no povert is but parfyt richesse
Of joie and blisse and vertuous gladnesse.

"O thyng telle I thee, sone, that is sooth:
Thogh o man hadde as moche as men han alle,
But vertu that good gye, al he misdooth;
Al that swetnesse torne shal to galle.
Whan that richesse is on a man yfalle,
If it be wrong despendid or miskept,
Anothir day ful sore it shal be wept.
"Sum ryche is large and his good misdespendith
In maintenance of synne and harlotrie -
To swiche despenses his lust him accendith;
And on that othir part, his nygardrie
Suffrith his neighburgh by him sterve and die,
Rather than with a ferthyng him releeve.
Tho two condicions been to repreeve.

"Whoso moost hath, he moost of shal answere;
O day shal come, sum men shal par chance
Desire he nevere hadde been rychere
Than heer han hadde his bare sustenance.
Whan the day comth of ire and of vengeance,
Than shal men seeme how in this world, I gesse,
Richesse is povert and povert richesse.

"Whyler, my sone, tolde I nat to thee
What habundance in yowthe I hadde of good?
And how me blente so prosperitee
That what God was I nothyng undirstood?
But ay whil that I in my welthe stood,
Aftir my flesshly lust my lyf I ledde,
And of His wreche nothyng I me dredde.

"And as I seide, He smoot me with the strook
Of povert, in which I continue yit,
Whos smert my good blood first so sore sook,
Or that I was aqweyntid wel with it,
That ny it hadde reft fro me my wit.
But sythen, thanke I God, in pacience
I have it take and shal for myn offense.

"If thee list flee that may povert engendre,
First synne eschue and God honure and drede.
Also, for thy lyflode is scars and sclendre,
Despende nat to largely, I rede.
Mesure is good, let hir thee gye and lede;
Be waar of outrage, and be sobre and wys;
Thus thow exclude him shalt, by myn avys.
"Nathelees, thow maist ageyn me replie:
'To sum folk, thogh they doon al as I seye,
Ageyn povert it is no remedie;
They mowe it nat eschue by no weye.'
I graunte wel, but than take heede, I preye.
The jugementz of God been to us hid;
Take alle in gree, so is thy vertu kid.

"To the plesaunce of God thow thee conforme;
Aboute that be bisy and ententyf.
That thow misdoon hast, thow blyve it reforme;
Swich laborer thee kythe heere in this lyf
That God thy soule, which that is His wyf,
Rejoise may for it is to Him due,
And His shal be but thow the devors sue.

"O thow Fortune, fals and deceyvable,
Ful sooth is it, if thow do a good deede,
Thow nat purposist it shal be durable;
Of good entente shal it nat proceede.
Wel oghte us thy promesses blynde dreede.
He slipirly stant whom that thow enhauncest,
For sodeynliche thow him disavauncest.

"Hadde I doon, sone, as I thee consaille
Whan that Fortunes deceyvable cheere
Lawhid on me, than hadde I nat, sanz faille,
Been in this wrecchid plyt as thow seest heere.
Nat kneew my youthe hir changeable maneere,
For whan I sat on hy upon hir wheel,
Hir gladsum look me made truste hir weel.

"I cowde for nothyng han wend or deemed
That shee aboute baar double visage;
I wende shee had been swich as shee seemed.
But nathelees yit is it avantage
To him that woful is, that hir usage
Is for to flitte fro place to place;
Hir variaunce is unto sum folk grace.
"Whomso that neede greeveth and travaillith,
Hir chaunge is unto him no greef or wo;
But the contrarie of that nothyng availlith,
As whan a man is wel put him therfro.
What shal man calle hir? Freend or elles fo?
I not, but calle hir freend whan that shee esith,
And calle hir fo whan that shee man displesith.

"But whoso calle hir shal a sikir name,
Men moot hir clepe my lady changeable,
For hardily shee is that selve same.
A, nay, I gabbe! I am unresonable.
Shee is my lady stidefast and stable,
For I endure in povertes distresse
And shee nat list remue my duresse.

"I ymagyne why that nat hir list
With me now dele; age is cold and drie,
And whan tho two been to a lady wist,
And that I poore am eek for the maistrie,
Swich a man is unlusty to hir ye,
And wers to grope - straw for inpotence!
Shee loveth yong folk and large of despense.

"Al this that I have of Fortune seid
Is but a jape, as who seith, or a knak.
Now I a whyle bourded have and pleid,
Resorte I wole to that I first spak.
Beholde and caste thow thyn ye abak;
What thow God hast agilt in tyme past,
Correcte it and to do so eft be gast.

"Of Holy Chirche, my sone, I conceyve
As yit ne hast thow noon avancement.
Yee courteours, ful often yee deceyve
Youre soules for the desirous talent
Yee han to good; and for that thow art brent
With covetyse now, par aventure,
Oonly for muk thow yernest soules cure.
"Ful many men knowe I that gane and gape
Aftir sum fat and ryche benefice;
Chirche or provendre unnethe hem may eschape
But they as blyve it henten up and tryce.
God graunte they accepte hem for the office
And nat for the profyt that by hem hongith,
For that conceit nat to presthode longith.

"A dayes now, my sone, as men may see,
O chirche unto o man may nat souffyse;
But algate he moot han pluralitee,
Elles he can nat lyven in no wyse.
Ententyfly he keepith his service
In court; his labour there shal nat moule;
But to his cure looketh he ful foule.

"Thogh that his chauncel roof be al totorn
And on the hy auter it reyne or sneewe,
He rekkith nat, the cost may be forborn
Crystes hous to repeire or make neewe;
And thogh ther be ful many a vicious heewe
Undir his cure, he takth of it no keep;
He rekkith nevere how rusty been his sheep.

"The oynement of holy sermonynge
Him looth is upon hem for to despende.
Sum person is so thredbare of konnynge
That he can naght, thogh he him wys pretende;
And he that can may nat his herte bende
Therto, but from his cure he him absentith,
And what therof comth, greedyliche he hentith.

"How he despendith it, be as be may,
For unto that am I nothyng pryvee;
But wel I woot, as nyce, fressh, and gay
Some of hem been as borel folkes be,
And that unsittynge is to hir degree;
Hem owith to be mirours of sadnesse,
And weyve jolitee and wantonnesse.
"But nathelees, I woot wel therageyn,
That many of hem gye hem as hem oghte,
And elles were it greet pitee, certeyn.
But what man wilt thow be, for Him thee boghte?"
"Fadir, I may nat cheese. I whilom thoghte
Han been a preest; now past am I the raas."
"Than art thow, sone, a weddid man, par caas?"

"Yee soothly, fadir myn, right so I am;
I gazid longe first and waytid faste
Aftir sum benefice, and whan noon cam,
By procees I me weddid atte laste.
And God it woot, it sore me agaste
To bynde me, where I was at my large;
But doon it was, I took on me that charge."

"A sone, I have espyed and now see
This is the tow that thow speek of right now!"
"Now by the Rood, fadir, sooth seyn yee."
"Yee, sone myn, thow shalt do wel ynow.
Whan endid is my tale, than shalt thow
Be put in swich a way as shal thee plese,
And to thyn herte do confort and ese.

"So longe as thow, sone, in the Privee Seel
Dwelt hast and woldest fayn han been avanced
Unto sum chirche or this, I deeme weel
That God nat wolde have thee enhanced
In no swich plyt; I holde thee wel chanced;
God woot and knowith every hid entente;
He for thy beste a wyf unto thee sente.

"If that thow haddest par cas been a preest,
Thow woldest han as wantounly thee gyed
As dooth the nyceste of hem that thow seest;
And God forbeede thow thee haddest tyed
Therto but if thyn herte might han plyed
For to observe it wel. Be glad and merie;
That thow art as thow art, God thanke and herie.
"The ordres of preesthode and of wedlok
Been bothe vertuous, withouten fable;
But undirstonde wel, the holy yok
Of preesthode is, as it is resonable
That it so be, the more commendable;
The lesse of hem of meede hath habundance;
Men han meryt aftir hir governance.

"But how been thy felawes lookid to
At hoom? Been they nat wel ybeneficed?"
"Yis, fadir, yis. Ther is oon clept Nemo:
He helpith hem, by him been they chericed;
Nere he, they weren poorely chevyced;
He hem avanceth, he fully hir freend is;
Sauf oonly him, they han but fewe freendes.

"So many a man as they this many a yeer
Han writen fore, fynde can they noon
So gentil or of hir estat so cheer
That ones list for hem to ryde or goon,
Ne for hem speke a word, but doumb as stoon
They standen where hir speeche hem mighte availle,
For swich folk is unlusty to travaille.

"But if a wight have a cause to sue
To us, sum lordes man shal undirtake
To sue it out, and that that is us due
For our labour, him deyneth us nat take;
He seith his lord to thanke us wole he make;
It touchith him, it is a man of his,
Wher the revers of that, God woot, sooth is.

"His lettre he takith and foorth gooth his way,
And biddith us to douten us nothyng;
His lord shal thanken us anothir day;
And if we han to sue to the kyng,
His lord may there have al his axyng.
We shul be sped as fer as that our bille
Wole specifie th'effect of oure wille.
"What shul we do? We dar noon argument
Make ageyn him, but faire and wel him trete,
Lest he reporte amis and make us shent;
To have his wil we suffren him and lete.
Hard is be holden suspect with the grete;
His tale shal be leeved but nat ouris,
And that conclusioun to us ful soure is.

"And whan the mateere is to ende ybroght
Of the straunger for whom the suyte hath be,
Than is he to the lord knowen right noght;
He is to him as unknowen as we;
The lord nat woot of al this sotiltee,
Ne we nat dar lete him of it to knowe,
Lest our conpleynte ourselven overthrowe.

"And wher this bribour hath no peny payed
In our office, he seith behynde our bak,
'He payde I not what.' Thus been we betrayed
And desclaundred, and put in wyt and lak
Ful giltelees; and eek by swich a knak
The man for whom the suyte is, is deceyved;
He weeneth we han of his gold receyved.

"Ful many swiche pursuours ther been
That for us take, and geve us nat a myte;
This makith us that we may nevere theen.
Eek whereas lordes bidde hir men us qwyte
Whan that we for hemself laboure and wryte,
And been allowed for our paiement,
Oure handes therof been ful innocent.

"Nat seye I alle lordes men thus do
That sue unto our court, but many I seye
Han thus doon ofte. Lo, my fadir, lo!
Thus bothe our thanke and lucre goon aweye.
God geve hem sorwe that so with us pleye,
For we it fynden ernest at the fulle;
This makith us of our labour to dulle.
"Now, fadir myn, how thynkith yow heerby?
Suppose yee nat that this sit us sore?"
"Yis, certes, sone; that ful wel woot I.
Hastow seid, sone? Wilt thow aght seye more?"
"Nay, sire, as now, but ay upon your lore
I herkne as bisyly as I best can."
"Sone, than lat us speke as we bygan.

"Seye on the soothe, I preye thee hertily,
What was thy cause why thow took a wyf?
Was it to gete children lawfully,
And in clennesse to lede thy lyf,
Or for lust or muk - what was thy motyf?"
"Fadir, nothyng wole I it qweynte make;
Oonly for love I chees hir to my make."

"Sone, what holdist thow love, I thee preye?
Thow deemest lust and love convertible,
Par cas, as whan thee list with thy wyf pleye,
Thy conceit holdith it good and lisible
To doon? Artow aght, sone myn, sensible
In which cas that thow oghtest thee forbere
And in which nat - canst thow to this answere?"

"Fadir, me thynkith al is good ynow.
Shee is my wyf - who may therof me lette?"
"Nay, sone, abyde and I shal tellen how,
If that thow aght by Goddes drede sette.
Three causes been whiche I thee wole unshette
And opne anoon why thow shalt with hir dele.
Now herkne, sone, for thy soules hele.

"The firste cause, procreacioun
Of children, is unto Goddes honour;
To keepe eek thee fro fornicacioun
The next is; and the thridde of that labour,
Yilde thy dette in which thow art dettour
Unto thy wyf, and othre ententes alle
Leye hem apart for aght that may befalle.
"For thise causes thow here use must
And for noon othir, on peyne of deedly synne."
"Fadir, right now me thoghte how ageyn lust
Yee heeld and children begoten therynne,
Where is no lust." "O sone, or that we twynne,
Thow shalt wel undirstonde how that I
Nat holde ageynes lust al uttirly.

"I woot wel, leefful lust is necessarie;
Withouten that may be noon engendrure;
But use lust for lust oonly, contrarie
To Goddes heestes is; for I th'ensure,
Thogh thow take of it litil heede or cure,
A man may with his wyf do leccherie;
Th'entente is al; be waar ay of folie.

"Weddid folk many leden holy lyf,
For thogh hir flesshly lustes hem assaille
And stire hem often, the man to the wyf
And shee to him, they maken swich bataille
And stryf ageyn hir flessh that he shal faille
Of his purpos. But some folk as beestes
Hir lust ay folwen - in hem noon areest is.

"Adayes now there is swich governance
Among hem that han paramours and wyves
That, for lust of hir wommen and plesance,
Nat souffyse hem metes restauratives,
But they receyven eek provocatives
To engendre hem lust, feyntynge hir nature,
And swich thyng causith hastyf sepulture.

"This knowe I sooth is, and kneew fern agoon;
And they that so doon hyly God offende.
Swich folk holde I homicydes echoon;
They sleen hemself or God deeth to hem sende.
My sone, on Goddes half, I thee deffende
Swiche medecynes that thow nat receyve,
Syn they God wratthe and soule of man deceyve.
"Passe over this. Thow seidest th'enchesoun
Why that thow took upon thee mariage
Was unto noon othir entencioun
But love oonly thee sente that corage.
Now, sone myn, I am a man of age,
And many weddid couples have I knowe -
Noon of myn age, many mo, I trowe -

"But I ne saw ne I ne espyde nevere,
As longe as that I have lyved yit,
The love of hem departen or dissevere
That for good love bownden were and knyt;
God loveth love and He wole forthere it.
At long rennynge love best shal preeve;
Thus hath it been and ay shal, I byleeve.

"But they that marien hem for muk and good
Oonly, and nat for love of the persone,
Nat have I wist they any whyle stood
In reste, but of stryf is ther swich wone,
As for the more part, twixt hem echone,
That al hir lyf they lede in hevynesse;
Swich is the fruyt to wedde for richesse.

"Among the ryche also is an usage:
Eche of hem his chyld unto othres wedde,
Thogh they be al to yong and tendre of age,
Nowher ny rype ynow to go to bedde;
And hir conceit in love is leid to wedde -
Men wite it wel, it is no questioun -
Til yeeres come of hir discrecioun.

"And whan they han the knowleche of resoun,
Than may they neithir fynden in hir herte
To loven othir; al out of sesoun
They knyt been that into wedlok so sterte;
This makith many a couple for to smerte.
O covetyse, thyn is al the gilt
Of this, and mo deceyve yit thow wilt!
"Also they that for lust cheesen hir make
Oonly, as othirwhyle it is usage,
Wayte wel whan hir lust is overshake,
And therwith wole hir loves hete asswage.
Thanne is to hem an helle hir mariage;
Than they desyren for to been unknyt,
And to that ende studie in al hir wit.

"Styntynge cause, th'effect styntith eek;
No lenger forster, no lenger lemman;
Love on lust growndid is nat worth a leek.
But who for vertu weddith a womman,
And neithir for muk ne for lust, that man
The forme due of matrymoyne sueth,
And soules hurt and bodyes grief eschueth.

"I dar nat medle of lordes mariages -
How they hem knytten, hir makes unseen.
But as to me, it seemeth swiche usage is
Nat worth a straw, for also moot I theen,
Reportes nat so sikir juges been
As man to see the wommannes persone.
In swich a choys let man himself allone.

"Weddyng at hoom in this land holsum were,
So that a man him wedde duely.
To see the flessh first it may nothyng dere,
And him avyse how him lykith therby
Or he be knyt - lo! this conceit have I.
In this mateere depper cowde I go,
But passe I wole and slippe away therfro.

"Now sythen thow hast, to my jugement,
Thee maried unto Goddes plesance,
Be a treewe housbonde as by myn assent;
Keepe thy bond, be waar of th'encombrance
Of the feend which, with many a circumstance
Ful sly, him castith thee wrappe in and wrie
To stire thee for to doon advoutrie.
"Advoutrie and perjurie and wilful slaghtre,
The book seith, lyk been and o peys they weye. 5
Waar advoutrie, it is no play or laghtre
To doon it. Flee also thise othir tweye,
For thus woot I wel Seint Jerom can seye:
'In peyne advoutrie hath the second place.'
Tho thre to eschue, God thee graunte grace.

"I in the Bible rede how that Abram
To Egypt wente with his wyf Saray,
And whan that they ny unto Egypt cam,
Thus seide he unto his wyf by the way:
'I woot wel thow art fair, it is no nay;
Whan they of Egypt see thee, they wole seye,
"Thow art his wyf," and for thee do me deye.

"'They wolen kille me and thee reserve;
Forthy unto hem seye, I thee byseeche,
Thow art my suster, lest I for thee sterve;
Thus may I wel been esid by thy speeche;
And thus thow mayst lengthe my lyf and eeche.'
And whan they into Egypt entred were,
Th'Egipcians faste byheelden here,

"And of hir beautee maden they report
To Pharao, and shee as blyve is take
Into his hous, and doon is greet confort
Unto Abram for this wommannes sake,
And greet desport and cheere men hem make.
But for Saray grevously Pharao
Punysshid was and eek his hous therto.

"Pharao clepte Abram and him abreide:
'What is it that thow hast doon unto me?
Why naddist thow told unto me,' he seide,
'How that this womman wyf was unto thee?
For what encheson seidist thow,' quod he,
'Shee was thy suster? Take thy wyf heere'
Quod he, 'and bothe go your way in feere.'

"The Bible makith no manere of mynde
Whethir that Pharao lay by hir aght,
But looke in Lyre and there shalt thow fynde
For to han doon it was he in ful thoght;
But God preserved hir; he mighte noght.
And syn for wil God him punysshid so,
How shal the dede unpunysshid go?

"Also nat kneew he that a wyf shee was.
Now thanne, they that wyves wityngly
Taken and holde and with hem doon trespas
Stonde in hard plyt. Sone, be waar, rede I,
If thow therynne agilte, eternelly
Thow smerte shalt, and in this lyf present
Han sharp adversitee and greet torment.

"And to Abymalech God bad he sholde
Yilde Sara also to hir housbonde,
For he and his echone, if he ne wolde,
Sholden be deed, he dide him undirstonde.
Take heede, o sone, that thow cleere ay stonde,
For God stoppid eek the concepcioun
Of every womman of his mansioun.

"Ne that shee was a wyf wiste he nothyng
Ne nat here kneew in no flesshly folie.
My goode sone, rede of David kyng,
How he took Bersabee, wyf of Urie,
Into his hous and dide advoutrie;
And how he made Urie slayn to be,
And how therfore punysshid was he.

"How was the tribe also of Benjamyn
Punysshid and put to destruccion
For advoutrie which they lyved yn,
In the abhominable oppression
Of the Levytes wyf? Lo, mencion
Therof is maad, if thow looke Holy Writ:
In Judicum ful redily it sit.

"Whoso lyth with his neigheburghes wyf
Is cursid, and who is an advoutour
The kyngdam faille shal of endles lyf;
Of that ne shal he be no possessour.
Allas, this likerous, dampnable errour
In this lond hath so large a threde ysponne
That werse peple is noon undir the sonne.

"Of swiche stories cowde I telle an heep,
But I suppose thise shul souffyse,
And forthy, sone, wole I make a leep
From hem and go wole I to the empryse
That I first took. If thow thee wel avyse,
Whanne I thee mette and sy thyn hevynesse,
Of confort, sone, made I thee promesse.

"And of a treewe man, byheeste is dette."
"Fadir, God yilde it yow, and so yee diden;
Yee highten me in ese me to sette."
"Now, sone, and thogh I longe have abiden,
Thy greef is nat out of my mynde sliden;
To thy grevance wole I now resorte,
And shewe thee how thow thee shalt conforte.

"In short, this is of thy greef enchesoun:
Of thyn annuitee the paiement,
Which for thy long service is thy guerdoun,
Thow dreddist, whan thow art from court absent,
Shal be restreyned, syn thow now present
Unnethes maist it gete, it is so streit -
Thus undirstood I, sone, thy conceit.

"For of thy lyflode is it the substance -
Is it nat thus?" "Yis soothly, fadir, it."
"Now, sone, to remedie this grevance,
Canstow no weyes fynden in thy wit?"
"No certes, fadir, nevere kowde I yit."
"May no lordshipe, sone, thee availle
For al thy long service and thy travaille?"

"What, fadir, what? Lordes han for to doone
So moche for hemself that my mateere
Out of hir mynde slippith away soone.
The world is nat swich now, my fadir deere,
As yee han seen. Farwel, freendly maneere!
So God me amende, I am al destitut
Of my lyflode. God be my refut.

"I am unto so streit a poynt ydryve,
Of thre conclusions moot I cheese oon:
Or begge, or stele, or sterve; I am yshryve
So ny that othir way ne see I noon;
Myn herte is also deed as is a stoon;
Nay, there I faille; a stoon nothyng ne feelith,
But thoght me brenneth and freesyngly keelith.

"To begge, shame is myn impediment;
I woot wel rather sholde I dye and sterve;
And stelthes guerdoun is swich paiement
That nevere thynke I his wages disserve.
Wolde honest deeth come and me overterve
And of my grave me putte in seisyne,
To al my greef that were a medecyne."

"What, sone! How now? I see wel smal effect
Or elles noon my wordes in thee take;
Outhir ful symple is thyn intellect,
Or hokirly thow hast hem overshake,
Or thy goost slept hath. What, my sone, awake!
Whileer thow seidist thow were of me glad,
And now it seemeth thow art of me sad.

"I deeme so syn that my long sermoun
Profitith naght - it sore me repentith."
"Fadir, beeth nat of that oppinioun;
For as yee wole, I do; myn herte assentith.
But ay among, fadir, thoght me tormentith
So sharply, and so troublith and despeirith,
That it my wit foule hyndreth and apeirith."

"O, my good sone, wilt thow yit algate
Despeired be? Nay, sone, let be that!
Thow shalt as blyve entre into the gate
Of thy confort. Now telle on pleyn and plat:
My lord the Prince, knowith he thee nat?
If that thow stonde in his benevolence,
He may be salve unto thyn indigence,

"No man bet next his fadir, our lord lige."
"Yis, fadir, he is my good gracious lord."
"Wel, sone, thanne wole I me oblige,
And God of hevene vouche I to record,
That if thow wilt be ful of myn accord,
Thow shalt no cause have more thus to muse,
But hevynesse voide and it refuse.

"Syn he thy good lord is, I am ful seur
His grace to thee shal nat be denyed.
Thow woost wel he benigne is and demeur
To sue unto; nat is his goost maistried
With daunger, but his herte is ful applied
To graunte, and nat the needy werne his grace.
To him pursue and thy releef purchace.

"Conpleyne unto his excellent noblesse,
As I have herd thee unto me conpleyne,
And but he qwenche thy greet hevynesse,
My tonge take and slitte in peces tweyne!
What, sone myn, for Goddes deere peyne,
Endite in Frenssh or Latyn thy greef cleer,
And for to wryte it wel do thy poweer.
"Of alle thre thow oghtest be wel leerid,
Syn thow so longe in hem laboured haast -
Thow of the Pryvee Seel art old iyeerid."
"Yit, fadir, of hem ful smal is my taast."
"Now, sone, thanne foule hastow in waast
Despent thy tyme; and nathelees I trowe
Thow canst do bet than thow wilt do me knowe.

"What shal I calle thee, what is thy name?"
"Hoccleve, fadir myn, men clepen me."
"Hoccleve, sone?" "Ywis, fadir, that same."
"Sone, I have herd or this men speke of thee;
Thow were aqweyntid with Chaucer, pardee -
God have his soule, best of any wight!
Sone, I wole holde thee that I have hight.

"Althogh thow seye that thow in Latyn
Ne in Frensshe neithir canst but smal endyte,
In Englissh tonge canstow wel afyn."
"Fadir, therof can I eek but a lyte."
"Yee, straw! Let be! Thy penne take and wryte
As thow canst, and thy sorwe torne shal
Into gladnesse - I doute it nat at al.

"Syn thow maist nat be payed in th'eschequer,
Unto my lord the Prince make instance
That thy patente into the hanaper
May chaunged be." "Fadir, by your souffrance,
It may nat so by cause of th'ordenance:
Longe aftir this shal no graunt chargeable
Out passe - fadir myn, this is no fable.

"An egal change, my sone, is in soothe
No charge, I woot it wel ynow in dede.
What, sone myn, good herte take unto the!
Men seyn, whoso of every gras hath drede,
Let him be waar to walke in any mede.
Assaye, assaye, thow symple hertid goost!
What grace is shapen thee thow nat ne woost."
"Fadir, as sikir as that I stande heere,
Whethir that I be symple or argh or bold,
Swich an eschange gete I noon to yeere;
Do as I can with that I have in hold;
For as for that, my confort is but cold.
But wel I fynde your good wil alway
Redy to me in what yee can and may."

"That is sooth, sone. Now syn thow me toldist
My lord, the Prince, is good lord thee to,
No maistrie is it for thee if thow woldist
To be releeved. Woost thow what to do?
Wryte to him a goodly tale or two,
On which he may desporten him by nyght,
And his free grace shal upon thee lyght.

"Sharpe thy penne and wryte on lustyly.
Let see, my sone, make it fressh and gay;
Owte thyn aart if thow canst craftily;
His hy prudence hath insighte verray
To juge if it be wel ymaad or nay.
Wherfore, sone, it is unto thee neede
Unto thy werk take the gretter heede.

"But of o thyng be wel waar in al wyse,
On flaterie that thow thee nat fownde,
For therof, sone, Salomon the wyse,
As that I have in his proverbes fownde,
Seith thus: 'They that in feyned speeche habownde,
And glosyngly unto hir freendes talke,
Spreden a net byforn hem wher they walke.'

"If a deceyvour geve a man to sowke
Wordes plesant in hony al bewrappid,
Good is a man eschue swich a powke.
Thurgh Favel hath ful many a man mishappid,
For whan that he hath janglid al and clappid
With his freend tretyng of pees openly,
He in awayt lyth of him covertly.
"The moost lak that han the lordes grete
Is of him that hir soothes sholde hem telle.
Al in the glose folk laboure and swete;
They stryven who best rynge shal the belle
Of fals plesaunce; in that hir hertes swelle,
If that oon can bet than othir deceyve,
And swich deceit lordes blyndly receyve.

"The worldly ryche men han no knowleche
What that they been of hir condicioun;
They been so blent with Faveles gay speeche
Which reportith to hem, that hir renoun
Is everywhere halwid in the toun;
That in hemself they deemen greet vertu,
Whereas there is but smal or nat a gru;

"For unnethe a good word men speke of hem.
This false treson commun is and ryf;
Bet were it thee been at Jerusalem,
Sone, than thow were in it deffectyf.
Syn my lord the Prince is, God holde his lyf,
To thee good lord, good servant thow thee qwyte
To him, and treewe, and it shal thee profyte.

"Wryte him nothyng that sowneth into vice.
Kythe thy love in mateere of sadnesse.
Looke if thow fynde canst any tretice
Growndid on his estates holsumnesse.
Swich thyng translate and unto his hynesse,
As humblely as that thow canst, presente.
Do thus, my sone." "Fadir, I assente."

"With herte as tremblyng as the leef of asp,
Fadir, syn yee me rede to do so,
Of my symple conceit wole I the clasp
Undo and lat it at his large go.
But, weleaway, so is myn herte wo
That the honour of Englissh tonge is deed,
Of which I wont was han conseil and reed.
"O maistir deere and fadir reverent,
My maistir Chaucer, flour of eloquence,
Mirour of fructuous entendement,
O universel fadir in science!
Allas that thow thyn excellent prudence
In thy bed mortel mightest nat byqwethe!
What eiled deeth? Allas, why wolde he sle the?

"O deeth, thow didest nat harm singuler
In slaghtre of him, but al this land it smertith.
But nathelees yit hastow no power
His name slee; his hy vertu astertith
Unslayn fro thee, which ay us lyfly hertith
With bookes of his ornat endytyng
That is to al this land enlumynyng.

"Hastow nat eek my maistir Gower slayn,
Whos vertu I am insufficient
For to descryve? I woot wel in certayn,
For to sleen al this world thow hast yment.
But syn our lord Cryst was obedient
To thee, in feith I can no ferther seye;
His creatures musten thee obeye.

"Fadir, yee may lawhe at my lewde speeche,
If that yow list - I am nothyng fourmeel;
My yong konnynge may no hyer reeche;
My wit is also slipir as an eel.
But how I speke, algate I meene weel."
"Sone, thow seist wel ynow, as me seemeth;
Noon othir feele I, so my conceit deemeth.

"Now farwel, sone, go hoom to thy mete;
It is hy tyme, and go wole I to myn.
And what I have seid thee, nat forgete.
And swich as that I am, sone, I am thyn.
Thow seest wel age hath put me to declyn,
And povert hath me maad of good al bare;
I may nat but preye for thy welfare."
"What, fadir, wolden yee thus sodeynly
Departe fro me? Petir, Cryst forbeede!
Yee shal go dyne with me, treewely."
"Sone, at o word, I moot go fro thee neede."
"Nay, fadir, nay!" "Yis, sone, as God me speede."
"Now, fadir, syn it may noon othir tyde,
Almighty God yow save and be your gyde;

"And graunte grace me that day to see
That I sumwhat may qwyte your goodnesse.
But, goode fadir, whan and wher shul yee
And I eft meete?" "Sone, in soothfastnesse,
I every day heere at the Carmes messe,
It faillith nat, aboute the hour of sevene."
"Wel, fadir, God bytake I yow of hevene."

Recordyng in my mynde the lessoun
That he me yaf, I hoom to mete wente.
And on the morwe sette I me adoun,
And penne and ynke and parchemeyn I hente,
And to parfourme his wil and his entente
I took corage, and whyles it was hoot,
Unto my lord the Prince thus I wroot:

[Words of the Compiler to the Prince] 6

Hy noble and mighty Prince excellent,
My lord the Prince, o my lord gracious,
I, humble servant and obedient
Unto your estat hy and glorious,
Of which I am ful tendre and ful gelous,
Me recommande unto your worthynesse,
With herte enteer and spirit of meeknesse;

Right humblely axyng of yow licence
That with my penne I may to yow declare
(So as that can my wittes innocence)
Myn inward wil that thristith the welfare
Of your persone, and elles be I bare
Of blisse whan that the cold strook of deeth
My lyf hath qweynt and me byreft my breeth.

Thogh that my lyflode and possessioun
Be scant, I ryche am of benevolence;
To yow therof can I be no nygoun.
Good have I noon by which your excellence
May plesid be, and for myn inpotence
Stoppith the way to do as I were holde,
I wryte as he that your good lyf fayn wolde.

Aristotle, moost famous philosophre,
His epistles to Alisaundre sente,
Whos sentence is wel bet than gold in cofre,
And more holsum growndid on treewe entente.
For al that evere tho epistles mente,
To sette was this worthy conquerour
In reule how to susteene his honour.

The tendre love and the fervent cheertee
That this worthy clerk ay to this kyng beer,
Thristynge his welthe durable to be,
Unto his herte stak and sat so neer,
That by wrytyng his conseil gaf he cleer
Unto his lord to keepe him fro nusance,
As witnessith his book of governance;

Of which, and of Gyles of Regiment
Of Princes, plotmeel thynke I to translate.
And thogh that symple be my sentement,
O worthy Prince, I yow byseeche algate,
Considereth how endytynge hath in hate
My dul conceit, and nat accorde may
With my childhede - I am so childissh ay.
Also byseeche I that the altitude
Of your estat, thogh that this pamfilet
Noon ordre holde ne in him include,
Nat greeved be, for I can do no bet.
Anothir day, whan wit and I be met
Which longe is to, and han us freendly kist, 7
Deskevere I wole that now is nat wist.

Nathelees, swich as is my smal konnynge,
With also treewe an herte, I wole it oute
As tho two dide or evere clerk lyvynge.
But tremblynge is my spirit, out of doute,
That to parfourme that I am aboute.
Allas, the stuf of sad intelligence
Me faillith to speke in so hy presence.

Symple is my goost and scars my letterure
Unto your excellence for to wryte
Myn inward love, and yit in aventure
Wole I me putte, thogh I can but lyte.
My deere maistir, God his soule qwyte,
And fadir, Chaucer, fayn wolde han me taght,
But I was dul and lerned lyte or naght.

Allas, my worthy maistir honurable,
This landes verray tresor and richesse,
Deeth by thy deeth hath harm irreparable
Unto us doon; hir vengeable duresse
Despoillid hath this land of the swetnesse
Of rethorik, for unto Tullius
Was nevere man so lyk amonges us.

Also who was heir in philosophie
To Aristotle in our tonge but thow?
The steppes of Virgile in poesie
Thow folwedist eek. Men woot wel ynow
That combreworld that thee, my maistir, slow.
Wolde I slayn were! Deeth was to hastyf
To renne on thee and reve thee thy lyf.

Deeth hath but smal consideracioun
Unto the vertuous, I have espyed;
No more, as shewith the probacioun,
Than to a vicious maistir losel tryed
Among an heep. Every man is maistried
With here, as wel the poore as is the ryche;
Leered and lewde eek standen alle ylyche.

Shee mighte han taried hir vengeance a whyle
Til that sum man had egal to thee be -
Nay, let be that! Shee kneew wel that this yle
May nevere man foorth brynge lyk to thee;
And hir office needes do moot shee.
God bad hir so, I truste, as for thy beste;
O maistir, maistir, God thy soule reste!

Now to my mateere as that I began.
There is a book Jacob de Cessolis
Of the ordre of prechours maad, a worthy man,
That the Ches Moralysed clepid is,
In which purpos I eek laboure ywis;
And heere and there, as that my litil wit
Affoorthe may, I thynke translate it.

And al be it that in that place sqwaar
Of the listes - I meene th'eschequeer -
A man may lerne to be wys and waar,
I that have aventured many a yeer
My wit therin, but lyte am I the neer,
Sauf that I sumwhat knowe a kynges draght;
Of othir draghtes lerned have I naght.

And for that among the draghtes echone
That unto the ches apparteene may,
Is noon so needful unto your persone
To knowe as that of the cheertee verray
That I have had unto your noblesse ay,
And shal, if your plesaunce it be to heere,
A kynges draght reporte I shal now heere.

I am seur that tho bookes alle three
Red hath and seen your innat sapience;
And as I hope, hir vertu folwen yee.
But unto yow compyle I this sentence
That, at the good lust of your excellence,
In short yee mowen beholde heer and rede
That in hem thre is scatered fer in brede.

And althogh it be no maneere of neede
Yow to consaille what to doon or leeve,
Yit if yow list of stories taken heede,
Sumwhat it may profyte, by your leeve;
At hardest, whan yee been in chambre at eeve,
They been good for to dryve foorth the nyght;
They shal nat harme if they be herd aright.

To your hynesse thynke it nat to longe,
Thogh in that draght I sumwhat wade deepe,
The thewes vertuous that to it longe
Wacchen my goost and letten him to sleepe.
Now God in vertu yow maynteene and keepe,
And I byseeche your magnificence
Geve unto me benigne audience.

For thogh I to the steppes clergial
Of thise clerkes thre nat may atteyne,
Yit for to putte in prees my conceit smal,
Good wil me artith take on me the peyne.
But sore in me ther qwappith every veyne,
So dreedful am I of myn ignorance;
The Crois of Cryst my werk speede and avance.
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