Confessio Amantis - Tales Of The Seven Deadly Sins, 1330-1408 A.D. - Incipit Liber Quartus

A poem by John Gower

Dicunt accidiam fore nutricem viciorum,
Torpet et in cunctis tarda que lenta bonis:
Que fieri possent hodie transfert piger in cras,
Furatoque prius ostia claudit equo.
Poscenti tardo negat emolumenta Cupido,
Set Venus in celeri ludit amore viri.


Upon the vices to procede
After the cause of mannes dede,
The ferste point of Slowthe I calle
Lachesce, and is the chief of alle,
And hath this propreliche of kinde,
To leven alle thing behinde.
Of that he mihte do now hier
He tarieth al the longe yer,
And everemore he seith, "Tomorwe";
And so he wol his time borwe, 10
And wissheth after "God me sende,"
That whan he weneth have an ende,
Thanne is he ferthest to beginne.
Thus bringth he many a meschief inne
Unwar, til that he be meschieved,
And may noght thanne be relieved.
And riht so nowther mor ne lesse
It stant of love and of lachesce:
Som time he slowtheth in a day
That he nevere after gete mai. 20
Now, Sone, as of this ilke thing,
If thou have eny knowleching,
That thou to love hast don er this,
Tell on. Mi goode fader, yis.
As of lachesce I am beknowe
That I mai stonde upon his rowe,
As I that am clad of his suite:
For whanne I thoghte mi poursuite
To make, and therto sette a day
To speke unto the swete May, 30
Lachesce bad abide yit,
And bar on hond it was no wit
Ne time forto speke as tho.
Thus with his tales to and fro
Mi time in tariinge he drowh:
Whan ther was time good ynowh,
He seide, "An other time is bettre;
Thou schalt mowe senden hire a lettre,
And per cas wryte more plein
Than thou be Mowthe durstest sein." 40
Thus have I lete time slyde
For Slowthe, and kepte noght my tide,
So that lachesce with his vice
Fulofte hath mad my wit so nyce,
That what I thoghte speke or do
With tariinge he hield me so,
Til whanne I wolde and mihte noght.
I not what thing was in my thoght,
Or it was drede, or it was schame;
Bot evere in ernest and in game 50
I wot ther is long time passed.
Bot yit is noght the love lassed,
Which I unto mi ladi have;
For thogh my tunge is slowh to crave
At alle time, as I have bede,
Min herte stant evere in o stede
And axeth besiliche grace,
The which I mai noght yit embrace.
And god wot that is malgre myn;
For this I wot riht wel a fin, 60
Mi grace comth so selde aboute,
That is the Slowthe of which I doute
Mor than of al the remenant
Which is to love appourtenant.
And thus as touchende of lachesce,
As I have told, I me confesse
To you, mi fader, and beseche
That furthermor ye wol me teche;
And if ther be to this matiere
Som goodly tale forto liere 70
How I mai do lachesce aweie,
That ye it wolden telle I preie.
To wisse thee, my Sone, and rede,
Among the tales whiche I rede,
An old ensample therupon
Now herkne, and I wol tellen on.
Ayein Lachesce in loves cas
I finde how whilom Eneas,
Whom Anchises to Sone hadde,
With gret navie, which he ladde 80
Fro Troie, aryveth at Cartage,
Wher for a while his herbergage
He tok; and it betidde so,
With hire which was qweene tho
Of the Cite his aqueintance
He wan, whos name in remembrance
Is yit, and Dido sche was hote;
Which loveth Eneas so hote
Upon the wordes whiche he seide,
That al hire herte on him sche leide 90
And dede al holi what he wolde.
Bot after that, as it be scholde,
Fro thenne he goth toward Ytaile
Be Schipe, and there his arivaile
Hath take, and schop him forto ryde.
Bot sche, which mai noght longe abide
The hote peine of loves throwe,
Anon withinne a litel throwe
A lettre unto hir kniht hath write,
And dede him pleinly forto wite, 100
If he made eny tariinge,
To drecche of his ayeincomynge,
That sche ne mihte him fiele and se,
Sche scholde stonde in such degre
As whilom stod a Swan tofore,
Of that sche hadde hire make lore;
For sorwe a fethere into hire brain
Sche schof and hath hireselve slain;
As king Menander in a lay
The sothe hath founde, wher sche lay 110
Sprantlende with hire wynges tweie,
As sche which scholde thanne deie
For love of him which was hire make.
"And so schal I do for thi sake,"
This qweene seide, "wel I wot."
Lo, to Enee thus sche wrot
With many an other word of pleinte:
Bot he, which hadde hise thoghtes feinte
Towardes love and full of Slowthe,
His time lette, and that was rowthe: 120
For sche, which loveth him tofore,
Desireth evere more and more,
And whan sche sih him tarie so,
Hire herte was so full of wo,
That compleignende manyfold
Sche hath hire oghne tale told,
Unto hirself and thus sche spak:
"Ha, who fond evere such a lak
Of Slowthe in eny worthi kniht?
Now wot I wel my deth is diht 130
Thurgh him which scholde have be mi lif."
Bot forto stinten al this strif,
Thus whan sche sih non other bote,
Riht evene unto hire herte rote
A naked swerd anon sche threste,
And thus sche gat hireselve reste
In remembrance of alle slowe.
Wherof, my Sone, thou miht knowe
How tariinge upon the nede
In loves cause is forto drede; 140
And that hath Dido sore aboght,
Whos deth schal evere be bethoght.
And overmore if I schal seche
In this matiere an other spieche,
In a Cronique I finde write
A tale which is good to wite.
At Troie whan king Ulixes
Upon the Siege among the pres
Of hem that worthi knihtes were
Abod long time stille there, 150
In thilke time a man mai se
How goodli that Penolope,
Which was to him his trewe wif,
Of his lachesce was pleintif;
Wherof to Troie sche him sende
Hire will be lettre, thus spekende:
"Mi worthi love and lord also,
It is and hath ben evere so,
That wher a womman is al one,
It makth a man in his persone 160
The more hardi forto wowe,
In hope that sche wolde bowe
To such thing as his wille were,
Whil that hire lord were elleswhere.
And of miself I telle this;
For it so longe passed is,
Sithe ferst than ye fro home wente,
That welnyh every man his wente
To there I am, whil ye ben oute,
Hath mad, and ech of hem aboute, 170
Which love can, my love secheth,
With gret preiere and me besecheth:
And some maken gret manace,
That if thei mihten come in place,
Wher that thei mihte here wille have,
Ther is nothing me scholde save,
That thei ne wolde werche thinges;
And some tellen me tidynges
That ye ben ded, and some sein
That certeinly ye ben besein 180
To love a newe and leve me.
Bot hou as evere that it be,
I thonke unto the goddes alle,
As yit for oght that is befalle
Mai noman do my chekes rede:
Bot natheles it is to drede,
That Lachesse in continuance
Fortune mihte such a chance,
Which noman after scholde amende."
Lo, thus this ladi compleignende 190
A lettre unto hire lord hath write,
And preyde him that he wolde wite
And thenke hou that sche was al his,
And that he tarie noght in this,
Bot that he wolde his love aquite,
To hire ayeinward and noght wryte,
Bot come himself in alle haste,
That he non other paper waste;
So that he kepe and holde his trowthe
Withoute lette of eny Slowthe. 200
Unto hire lord and love liege
To Troie, wher the grete Siege
Was leid, this lettre was conveied.
And he, which wisdom hath pourveied
Of al that to reson belongeth,
With gentil herte it underfongeth:
And whan he hath it overrad,
In part he was riht inly glad,
And ek in part he was desesed:
Bot love his herte hath so thorghsesed 210
With pure ymaginacioun,
That for non occupacioun
Which he can take on other side,
He mai noght flitt his herte aside
Fro that his wif him hadde enformed;
Wherof he hath himself conformed
With al the wille of his corage
To schape and take the viage
Homward, what time that he mai:
So that him thenketh of a day 220
A thousand yer, til he mai se
The visage of Penolope,
Which he desireth most of alle.
And whan the time is so befalle
That Troie was destruid and brent,
He made non delaiement,
Bot goth him home in alle hihe,
Wher that he fond tofore his yhe
His worthi wif in good astat:
And thus was cessed the debat 230
Of love, and Slowthe was excused,
Which doth gret harm, where it is used,
And hindreth many a cause honeste.
For of the grete Clerc Grossteste
I rede how besy that he was
Upon clergie an Hed of bras
To forge, and make it forto telle
Of suche thinges as befelle.
And sevene yeres besinesse
He leyde, bot for the lachesse 240
Of half a Minut of an houre,
Fro ferst that he began laboure
He loste all that he hadde do.
And otherwhile it fareth so,
In loves cause who is slow,
That he withoute under the wow
Be nyhte stant fulofte acold,
Which mihte, if that he hadde wold
His time kept, have be withinne.
Bot Slowthe mai no profit winne, 250
Bot he mai singe in his karole
How Latewar cam to the Dole,
Wher he no good receive mihte.
And that was proved wel be nyhte
Whilom of the Maidenes fyve,
Whan thilke lord cam forto wyve:
For that here oyle was aweie
To lihte here lampes in his weie,
Here Slowthe broghte it so aboute,
Fro him that thei ben schet withoute. 260
Wherof, my Sone, be thou war,
Als ferforth as I telle dar.
For love moste ben awaited:
And if thou be noght wel affaited
In love to eschuie Slowthe,
Mi Sone, forto telle trowthe,
Thou miht noght of thiself ben able
To winne love or make it stable,
All thogh thou mihtest love achieve.
Mi fader, that I mai wel lieve. 270
Bot me was nevere assigned place,
Wher yit to geten eny grace,
Ne me was non such time apointed;
For thanne I wolde I were unjoynted
Of every lime that I have,
If I ne scholde kepe and save
Min houre bothe and ek my stede,
If my ladi it hadde bede.
Bot sche is otherwise avised
Than grante such a time assised; 280
And natheles of mi lachesse
Ther hath be no defalte I gesse
Of time lost, if that I mihte:
Bot yit hire liketh noght alyhte
Upon no lure which I caste;
For ay the more I crie faste,
The lasse hire liketh forto hiere.
So forto speke of this matiere,
I seche that I mai noght finde,
I haste and evere I am behinde, 290
And wot noght what it mai amounte.
Bot, fader, upon myn acompte,
Which ye be sett to examine
Of Schrifte after the discipline,
Sey what your beste conseil is.
Mi Sone, my conseil is this:
Hou so it stonde of time go,
Do forth thi besinesse so,
That no Lachesce in the be founde:
For Slowthe is mihti to confounde 300
The spied of every mannes werk.
For many a vice, as seith the clerk,
Ther hongen upon Slowthes lappe
Of suche as make a man mishappe,
To pleigne and telle of hadde I wist.
And therupon if that thee list
To knowe of Slowthes cause more,
In special yit overmore
Ther is a vice full grevable
To him which is therof coupable, 310
And stant of alle vertu bare,
Hierafter as I schal declare.
Touchende of Slowthe in his degre,
Ther is yit Pusillamite,
Which is to seie in this langage,
He that hath litel of corage
And dar no mannes werk beginne:
So mai he noght be resoun winne;
For who that noght dar undertake,
Be riht he schal no profit take. 320
Bot of this vice the nature
Dar nothing sette in aventure,
Him lacketh bothe word and dede,
Wherof he scholde his cause spede:
He woll no manhed understonde,
For evere he hath drede upon honde:
Al is peril that he schal seie,
Him thenkth the wolf is in the weie,
And of ymaginacioun
He makth his excusacioun 330
And feigneth cause of pure drede,
And evere he faileth ate nede,
Til al be spilt that he with deleth.
He hath the sor which noman heleth,
The which is cleped lack of herte;
Thogh every grace aboute him sterte,
He wol noght ones stere his fot;
So that be resoun lese he mot,
That wol noght auntre forto winne.
And so forth, Sone, if we beginne 340
To speke of love and his servise,
Ther ben truantz in such a wise,
That lacken herte, whan best were
To speke of love, and riht for fere
Thei wexen doumb and dar noght telle,
Withoute soun as doth the belle,
Which hath no claper forto chyme;
And riht so thei as for the tyme
Ben herteles withoute speche
Of love, and dar nothing beseche; 350
And thus thei lese and winne noght.
Forthi, my Sone, if thou art oght
Coupable as touchende of this Slowthe,
Schrif thee therof and tell me trowthe.
Mi fader, I am al beknowe
That I have ben on of tho slowe,
As forto telle in loves cas.
Min herte is yit and evere was,
As thogh the world scholde al tobreke,
So ferful, that I dar noght speke 360
Of what pourpos that I have nome,
Whan I toward mi ladi come,
Bot let it passe and overgo.
Mi Sone, do nomore so:
For after that a man poursuieth
To love, so fortune suieth,
Fulofte and yifth hire happi chance
To him which makth continuance
To preie love and to beseche;
As be ensample I schal thee teche. 370
I finde hou whilom ther was on,
Whos name was Pymaleon,
Which was a lusti man of yowthe:
The werkes of entaile he cowthe
Above alle othre men as tho;
And thurgh fortune it fell him so,
As he whom love schal travaile,
He made an ymage of entaile
Lich to a womman in semblance
Of feture and of contienance, 380
So fair yit nevere was figure.
Riht as a lyves creature
Sche semeth, for of yvor whyt
He hath hire wroght of such delit,
That sche was rody on the cheke
And red on bothe hire lippes eke;
Wherof that he himself beguileth.
For with a goodly lok sche smyleth,
So that thurgh pure impression
Of his ymaginacion 390
With al the herte of his corage
His love upon this faire ymage
He sette, and hire of love preide;
Bot sche no word ayeinward seide.
The longe day, what thing he dede,
This ymage in the same stede
Was evere bi, that ate mete
He wolde hire serve and preide hire ete,
And putte unto hire mowth the cuppe;
And whan the bord was taken uppe, 400
He hath hire into chambre nome,
And after, whan the nyht was come,
He leide hire in his bed al nakid.
He was forwept, he was forwakid,
He keste hire colde lippes ofte,
And wissheth that thei weren softe,
And ofte he rouneth in hire Ere,
And ofte his arm now hier now there
He leide, as he hir wolde embrace,
And evere among he axeth grace, 410
As thogh sche wiste what he mente:
And thus himself he gan tormente
With such desese of loves peine,
That noman mihte him more peine.
Bot how it were, of his penance
He made such continuance
Fro dai to nyht, and preith so longe,
That his preiere is underfonge,
Which Venus of hire grace herde;
Be nyhte and whan that he worst ferde, 420
And it lay in his nakede arm,
The colde ymage he fieleth warm
Of fleissh and bon and full of lif.
Lo, thus he wan a lusti wif,
Which obeissant was at his wille;
And if he wolde have holde him stille
And nothing spoke, he scholde have failed:
Bot for he hath his word travailed
And dorste speke, his love he spedde,
And hadde al that he wolde abedde. 430
For er thei wente thanne atwo,
A knave child betwen hem two
Thei gete, which was after hote
Paphus, of whom yit hath the note
A certein yle, which Paphos
Men clepe, and of his name it ros.
Be this ensample thou miht finde
That word mai worche above kinde.
Forthi, my Sone, if that thou spare
To speke, lost is al thi fare, 440
For Slowthe bringth in alle wo.
And over this to loke also,
The god of love is favorable
To hem that ben of love stable,
And many a wonder hath befalle:
Wherof to speke amonges alle,
If that thee list to taken hede,
Therof a solein tale I rede,
Which I schal telle in remembraunce
Upon the sort of loves chaunce. 450
The king Ligdus upon a strif
Spak unto Thelacuse his wif,
Which thanne was with childe grete;
He swor it scholde noght be lete,
That if sche have a dowhter bore,
That it ne scholde be forlore
And slain, wherof sche sory was.
So it befell upon this cas,
Whan sche delivered scholde be,
Isis be nyhte in privete, 460
Which of childinge is the goddesse,
Cam forto helpe in that destresse,
Til that this lady was al smal,
And hadde a dowhter forth withal;
Which the goddesse in alle weie
Bad kepe, and that thei scholden seie
It were a Sone: and thus Iphis
Thei namede him, and upon this
The fader was mad so to wene.
And thus in chambre with the qweene 470
This Iphis was forthdrawe tho,
And clothed and arraied so
Riht as a kinges Sone scholde.
Til after, as fortune it wolde,
Whan it was of a ten yer age,
Him was betake in mariage
A Duckes dowhter forto wedde,
Which Iante hihte, and ofte abedde
These children leien, sche and sche,
Whiche of on age bothe be. 480
So that withinne time of yeeres,
Togedre as thei ben pleiefieres,
Liggende abedde upon a nyht,
Nature, which doth every wiht
Upon hire lawe forto muse,
Constreigneth hem, so that thei use
Thing which to hem was al unknowe;
Wherof Cupide thilke throwe
Tok pite for the grete love,
And let do sette kinde above, 490
So that hir lawe mai ben used,
And thei upon here lust excused.
For love hateth nothing more
Than thing which stant ayein the lore
Of that nature in kinde hath sett:
Forthi Cupide hath so besett
His grace upon this aventure,
That he acordant to nature,
Whan that he syh the time best,
That ech of hem hath other kest, 500
Transformeth Iphe into a man,
Wherof the kinde love he wan
Of lusti yonge Iante his wif;
And tho thei ladde a merie lif,
Which was to kinde non offence.
And thus to take an evidence,
It semeth love is welwillende
To hem that ben continuende
With besy herte to poursuie
Thing which that is to love due. 510
Wherof, my Sone, in this matiere
Thou miht ensample taken hiere,
That with thi grete besinesse
Thou miht atteigne the richesse
Of love, if that ther be no Slowthe.
I dar wel seie be mi trowthe,
Als fer as I my witt can seche,
Mi fader, as for lacke of speche,
Bot so as I me schrof tofore,
Ther is non other time lore, 520
Wherof ther mihte ben obstacle
To lette love of his miracle,
Which I beseche day and nyht.
Bot, fader, so as it is riht
In forme of schrifte to beknowe
What thing belongeth to the slowe,
Your faderhode I wolde preie,
If ther be forthere eny weie
Touchende unto this ilke vice.
Mi Sone, ye, of this office 530
Ther serveth on in special,
Which lost hath his memorial,
So that he can no wit withholde
In thing which he to kepe is holde,
Wherof fulofte himself he grieveth:
And who that most upon him lieveth,
Whan that hise wittes ben so weyved,
He mai full lihtly be deceived.
To serve Accidie in his office,
Ther is of Slowthe an other vice, 540
Which cleped is Foryetelnesse;
That noght mai in his herte impresse
Of vertu which reson hath sett,
So clene his wittes he foryet.
For in the tellinge of his tale
Nomore his herte thanne his male
Hath remembrance of thilke forme,
Wherof he scholde his wit enforme
As thanne, and yit ne wot he why.
Thus is his pourpos noght forthi 550
Forlore of that he wolde bidde,
And skarsly if he seith the thridde
To love of that he hadde ment:
Thus many a lovere hath be schent.
Tell on therfore, hast thou be oon
Of hem that Slowthe hath so begon?
Ye, fader, ofte it hath be so,
That whanne I am mi ladi fro
And thenke untoward hire drawe,
Than cast I many a newe lawe 560
And al the world torne up so doun,
And so recorde I mi lecoun
And wryte in my memorial
What I to hire telle schal,
Riht al the matiere of mi tale:
Bot al nys worth a note schale;
For whanne I come ther sche is,
I have it al foryete ywiss;
Of that I thoghte forto telle
I can noght thanne unethes spelle 570
That I wende altherbest have rad,
So sore I am of hire adrad.
For as a man that sodeinli
A gost behelde, so fare I;
So that for feere I can noght gete
Mi witt, bot I miself foryete,
That I wot nevere what I am,
Ne whider I schal, ne whenne I cam,
Bot muse as he that were amased.

Lich to the bok in which is rased 580
The lettre, and mai nothing be rad,
So ben my wittes overlad,
That what as evere I thoghte have spoken,
It is out fro myn herte stoken,
And stonde, as who seith, doumb and def,
That all nys worth an yvy lef,
Of that I wende wel have seid.
And ate laste I make abreid,
Caste up myn hed and loke aboute,
Riht as a man that were in doute 590
And wot noght wher he schal become.
Thus am I ofte al overcome,
Ther as I wende best to stonde:
Bot after, whanne I understonde,
And am in other place al one,
I make many a wofull mone
Unto miself, and speke so:
"Ha fol, wher was thin herte tho,
Whan thou thi worthi ladi syhe?
Were thou afered of hire yhe? 600
For of hire hand ther is no drede:
So wel I knowe hir wommanhede,
That in hire is nomore oultrage
Than in a child of thre yeer age.
Whi hast thou drede of so good on,
Whom alle vertu hath begon,
That in hire is no violence
Bot goodlihiede and innocence
Withouten spot of eny blame?
Ha, nyce herte, fy for schame] 610
Ha, couard herte of love unlered,
Wherof art thou so sore afered,
That thou thi tunge soffrest frese,
And wolt thi goode wordes lese,
Whan thou hast founde time and space?
How scholdest thou deserve grace,
Whan thou thiself darst axe non,
Bot al thou hast foryete anon?"
And thus despute I loves lore,
Bot help ne finde I noght the more, 620
Bot stomble upon myn oghne treine
And make an ekinge of my peine.
For evere whan I thenke among
How al is on miself along,
I seie, "O fol of alle foles,
Thou farst as he betwen tuo stoles
That wolde sitte and goth to grounde.
It was ne nevere schal be founde,
Betwen foryetelnesse and drede
That man scholde any cause spede." 630
And thus, myn holi fader diere,
Toward miself, as ye mai hiere,
I pleigne of my foryetelnesse;
Bot elles al the besinesse,
That mai be take of mannes thoght,
Min herte takth, and is thorghsoght
To thenken evere upon that swete
Withoute Slowthe, I you behete.
For what so falle, or wel or wo,
That thoght foryete I neveremo, 640
Wher so I lawhe or so I loure:
Noght half the Minut of an houre
Ne mihte I lete out of my mende,
Bot if I thoghte upon that hende.
Therof me schal no Slowthe lette,
Til deth out of this world me fette,
Althogh I hadde on such a Ring,
As Moises thurgh his enchanting
Som time in Ethiope made,
Whan that he Tharbis weddid hade. 650
Which Ring bar of Oblivion
The name, and that was be resoun
That where it on a finger sat,
Anon his love he so foryat,
As thogh he hadde it nevere knowe:
And so it fell that ilke throwe,
Whan Tharbis hadde it on hire hond,
No knowlechinge of him sche fond,
Bot al was clene out of memoire,
As men mai rede in his histoire; 660
And thus he wente quit away,
That nevere after that ilke day
Sche thoghte that ther was such on;
Al was foryete and overgon.
Bot in good feith so mai noght I:
For sche is evere faste by,
So nyh that sche myn herte toucheth,
That for nothing that Slowthe voucheth
I mai foryete hire, lief ne loth;
For overal, where as sche goth, 670
Min herte folwith hire aboute.
Thus mai I seie withoute doute,
For bet, for wers, for oght, for noght,
Sche passeth nevere fro my thoght;
Bot whanne I am ther as sche is,
Min herte, as I you saide er this,
Som time of hire is sore adrad,
And som time it is overglad,
Al out of reule and out of space.
For whan I se hir goodli face 680
And thenke upon hire hihe pris,
As thogh I were in Paradis,
I am so ravisht of the syhte,
That speke unto hire I ne myhte
As for the time, thogh I wolde:
For I ne mai my wit unfolde
To finde o word of that I mene,
Bot al it is foryete clene;
And thogh I stonde there a myle,
Al is foryete for the while, 690
A tunge I have and wordes none.
And thus I stonde and thenke al one
Of thing that helpeth ofte noght;
Bot what I hadde afore thoght
To speke, whanne I come there,
It is foryete, as noght ne were,
And stonde amased and assoted,
That of nothing which I have noted
I can noght thanne a note singe,
Bot al is out of knowlechinge: 700
Thus, what for joie and what for drede,
Al is foryeten ate nede.
So that, mi fader, of this Slowthe
I have you said the pleine trowthe;
Ye mai it as you list redresce:
For thus stant my foryetelnesse
And ek my pusillamite.
Sey now forth what you list to me,
For I wol only do be you.
Mi Sone, I have wel herd how thou 710
Hast seid, and that thou most amende:
For love his grace wol noght sende
To that man which dar axe non.
For this we knowen everichon,
A mannes thoght withoute speche
God wot, and yit that men beseche
His will is; for withoute bedes
He doth his grace in fewe stedes:
And what man that foryet himselve,
Among a thousand be noght tuelve, 720
That wol him take in remembraunce,
Bot lete him falle and take his chaunce.
Forthi pull up a besi herte,
Mi Sone, and let nothing asterte
Of love fro thi besinesse:
For touchinge of foryetelnesse,
Which many a love hath set behinde,
A tale of gret ensample I finde,
Wherof it is pite to wite
In the manere as it is write. 730
King Demephon, whan he be Schipe
To Troieward with felaschipe
Sailende goth, upon his weie
It hapneth him at Rodopeie,
As Eolus him hadde blowe,
To londe, and rested for a throwe.
And fell that ilke time thus,
The dowhter of Ligurgius,
Which qweene was of the contre,
Was sojournende in that Cite 740
Withinne a Castell nyh the stronde,
Wher Demephon cam up to londe.
Phillis sche hihte, and of yong age
And of stature and of visage
Sche hadde al that hire best besemeth.
Of Demephon riht wel hire qwemeth,
Whan he was come, and made him chiere;
And he, that was of his manere
A lusti knyht, ne myhte asterte
That he ne sette on hire his herte; 750
So that withinne a day or tuo
He thoghte, how evere that it go,
He wolde assaie the fortune,
And gan his herte to commune
With goodly wordes in hire Ere;
And forto put hire out of fere,
He swor and hath his trowthe pliht
To be for evere hire oghne knyht.
And thus with hire he stille abod,
Ther while his Schip on Anker rod, 760
And hadde ynowh of time and space
To speke of love and seche grace.
This ladi herde al that he seide,
And hou he swor and hou he preide,
Which was as an enchantement
To hire, that was innocent:
As thogh it were trowthe and feith,
Sche lieveth al that evere he seith,
And as hire infortune scholde,
Sche granteth him al that he wolde. 770
Thus was he for the time in joie,
Til that he scholde go to Troie;
Bot tho sche made mochel sorwe,
And he his trowthe leith to borwe
To come, if that he live may,
Ayein withinne a Monthe day,
And therupon thei kisten bothe:
Bot were hem lieve or were hem lothe,
To Schipe he goth and forth he wente
To Troie, as was his ferste entente. 780
The daies gon, the Monthe passeth,
Hire love encresceth and his lasseth,
For him sche lefte slep and mete,
And he his time hath al foryete;
So that this wofull yonge qweene,
Which wot noght what it mihte meene,
A lettre sende and preide him come,
And seith how sche is overcome
With strengthe of love in such a wise,
That sche noght longe mai suffise 790
To liven out of his presence;
And putte upon his conscience
The trowthe which he hath behote,
Wherof sche loveth him so hote,
Sche seith, that if he lengere lette
Of such a day as sche him sette,
Sche scholde sterven in his Slowthe,
Which were a schame unto his trowthe.
This lettre is forth upon hire sonde,
Wherof somdiel confort on honde 800
Sche tok, as she that wolde abide
And waite upon that ilke tyde
Which sche hath in hire lettre write.
Bot now is pite forto wite,
As he dede erst, so he foryat
His time eftsone and oversat.
Bot sche, which mihte noght do so,
The tyde awayteth everemo,
And caste hire yhe upon the See:
Somtime nay, somtime yee, 810
Somtime he cam, somtime noght,
Thus sche desputeth in hire thoght
And wot noght what sche thenke mai;
Bot fastende al the longe day
Sche was into the derke nyht,
And tho sche hath do set up lyht
In a lanterne on hih alofte
Upon a Tour, wher sche goth ofte,
In hope that in his cominge
He scholde se the liht brenninge, 820
Wherof he mihte his weies rihte
To come wher sche was be nyhte.
Bot al for noght, sche was deceived,
For Venus hath hire hope weyved,
And schewede hire upon the Sky
How that the day was faste by,
So that withinne a litel throwe
The daies lyht sche mihte knowe.
Tho sche behield the See at large;
And whan sche sih ther was no barge 830
Ne Schip, als ferr as sche may kenne,
Doun fro the Tour sche gan to renne
Into an Herber all hire one,
Wher many a wonder woful mone
Sche made, that no lif it wiste,
As sche which all hire joie miste,
That now sche swouneth, now sche pleigneth,
And al hire face sche desteigneth
With teres, whiche, as of a welle
The stremes, from hire yhen felle; 840
So as sche mihte and evere in on
Sche clepede upon Demephon,
And seide, "Helas, thou slowe wiht,
Wher was ther evere such a knyht,
That so thurgh his ungentilesce
Of Slowthe and of foryetelnesse
Ayein his trowthe brak his stevene?"
And tho hire yhe up to the hevene
Sche caste, and seide, "O thou unkinde,
Hier schalt thou thurgh thi Slowthe finde, 850
If that thee list to come and se,
A ladi ded for love of thee,
So as I schal myselve spille;
Whom, if it hadde be thi wille,
Thou mihtest save wel ynowh."
With that upon a grene bowh
A Ceinte of Selk, which sche ther hadde,
Sche knette, and so hireself sche ladde,
That sche aboute hire whyte swere
It dede, and hyng hirselven there. 860
Wherof the goddes were amoeved,
And Demephon was so reproeved,
That of the goddes providence
Was schape such an evidence
Evere afterward ayein the slowe,
That Phillis in the same throwe
Was schape into a Notetre,
That alle men it mihte se,
And after Phillis Philliberd
This tre was cleped in the yerd, 870
And yit for Demephon to schame
Into this dai it berth the name.
This wofull chance how that it ferde
Anon as Demephon it herde,
And every man it hadde in speche,
His sorwe was noght tho to seche;
He gan his Slowthe forto banne,
Bot it was al to late thanne.
Lo thus, my Sone, miht thou wite
Ayein this vice how it is write; 880
For noman mai the harmes gesse,
That fallen thurgh foryetelnesse,
Wherof that I thi schrifte have herd.
Bot yit of Slowthe hou it hath ferd
In other wise I thenke oppose,
If thou have gult, as I suppose.
Fulfild of Slowthes essamplaire
Ther is yit on, his Secretaire,
And he is cleped Negligence:
Which wol noght loke his evidence, 890
Wherof he mai be war tofore;
Bot whanne he hath his cause lore,
Thanne is he wys after the hond:
Whanne helpe may no maner bond,
Thanne ate ferste wolde he binde:
Thus everemore he stant behinde.
Whanne he the thing mai noght amende,
Thanne is he war, and seith at ende,
"Ha, wolde god I hadde knowe]"
Wherof bejaped with a mowe 900
He goth, for whan the grete Stiede
Is stole, thanne he taketh hiede,
And makth the stable dore fast:
Thus evere he pleith an aftercast
Of al that he schal seie or do.
He hath a manere eke also,
Him list noght lerne to be wys,
For he set of no vertu pris
Bot as him liketh for the while;
So fieleth he fulofte guile, 910
Whan that he weneth siker stonde.
And thus thou miht wel understonde,
Mi Sone, if thou art such in love,
Thou miht noght come at thin above
Of that thou woldest wel achieve.
Mi holi fader, as I lieve,
I mai wel with sauf conscience
Excuse me of necgligence
Towardes love in alle wise:
For thogh I be non of the wise, 920
I am so trewly amerous,
That I am evere curious
Of hem that conne best enforme
To knowe and witen al the forme,
What falleth unto loves craft.
Bot yit ne fond I noght the haft,
Which mihte unto that bladd acorde;
For nevere herde I man recorde
What thing it is that myhte availe
To winne love withoute faile. 930
Yit so fer cowthe I nevere finde
Man that be resoun ne be kinde
Me cowthe teche such an art,
That he ne failede of a part;
And as toward myn oghne wit,
Controeve cowthe I nevere yit
To finden eny sikernesse,
That me myhte outher more or lesse
Of love make forto spede:
For lieveth wel withoute drede, 940
If that ther were such a weie,
As certeinliche as I schal deie
I hadde it lerned longe ago.
Bot I wot wel ther is non so:
And natheles it may wel be,
I am so rude in my degree
And ek mi wittes ben so dulle,
That I ne mai noght to the fulle
Atteigne to so hih a lore.
Bot this I dar seie overmore, 950
Althogh mi wit ne be noght strong,
It is noght on mi will along,
For that is besi nyht and day
To lerne al that he lerne may,
How that I mihte love winne:
Bot yit I am as to beginne
Of that I wolde make an ende,
And for I not how it schal wende,
That is to me mi moste sorwe.
Bot I dar take god to borwe, 960
As after min entendement,
Non other wise necgligent
Thanne I yow seie have I noght be:
Forthi per seinte charite
Tell me, mi fader, what you semeth.
In good feith, Sone, wel me qwemeth,
That thou thiself hast thus aquit
Toward this vice, in which no wit
Abide mai, for in an houre
He lest al that he mai laboure 970
The longe yer, so that men sein,
What evere he doth it is in vein.
For thurgh the Slowthe of Negligence
Ther was yit nevere such science
Ne vertu, which was bodely,
That nys destruid and lost therby.
Ensample that it hath be so
In boke I finde write also.
Phebus, which is the Sonne hote,
That schyneth upon Erthe hote 980
And causeth every lyves helthe,
He hadde a Sone in al his welthe,
Which Pheton hihte, and he desireth
And with his Moder he conspireth,
The which was cleped Clemenee,
For help and conseil, so that he
His fader carte lede myhte
Upon the faire daies brihte.
And for this thing thei bothe preide
Unto the fader, and he seide 990
He wolde wel, bot forth withal
Thre pointz he bad in special
Unto his Sone in alle wise,
That he him scholde wel avise
And take it as be weie of lore.
Ferst was, that he his hors to sore
Ne prike, and over that he tolde
That he the renes faste holde;
And also that he be riht war
In what manere he lede his charr, 1000
That he mistake noght his gate,
Bot up avisement algate
He scholde bere a siker yhe,
That he to lowe ne to hyhe
His carte dryve at eny throwe,
Wherof that he mihte overthrowe.
And thus be Phebus ordinance
Tok Pheton into governance
The Sonnes carte, which he ladde:
Bot he such veine gloire hadde 1010
Of that he was set upon hyh,
That he his oghne astat ne syh
Thurgh negligence and tok non hiede;
So mihte he wel noght longe spede.
For he the hors withoute lawe
The carte let aboute drawe
Wher as hem liketh wantounly,
That ate laste sodeinly,
For he no reson wolde knowe,
This fyri carte he drof to lowe, 1020
And fyreth al the world aboute;
Wherof thei weren alle in doubte,
And to the god for helpe criden
Of suche unhappes as betyden.
Phebus, which syh the necgligence,
How Pheton ayein his defence
His charr hath drive out of the weie,
Ordeigneth that he fell aweie
Out of the carte into a flod
And dreynte. Lo now, hou it stod 1030
With him that was so necgligent,
That fro the hyhe firmament,
For that he wolde go to lowe,
He was anon doun overthrowe.
In hih astat it is a vice
To go to lowe, and in service
It grieveth forto go to hye,
Wherof a tale in poesie
I finde, how whilom Dedalus,
Which hadde a Sone, and Icharus 1040
He hihte, and thogh hem thoghte lothe,
In such prison thei weren bothe
With Minotaurus, that aboute
Thei mihten nawher wenden oute;
So thei begonne forto schape
How thei the prison mihte ascape.
This Dedalus, which fro his yowthe
Was tawht and manye craftes cowthe,
Of fetheres and of othre thinges
Hath mad to fle diverse wynges 1050
For him and for his Sone also;
To whom he yaf in charge tho
And bad him thenke therupon,
How that his wynges ben set on
With wex, and if he toke his flyhte
To hyhe, al sodeinliche he mihte
Make it to melte with the Sonne.
And thus thei have her flyht begonne
Out of the prison faire and softe;
And whan thei weren bothe alofte, 1060
This Icharus began to monte,
And of the conseil non accompte
He sette, which his fader tawhte,
Til that the Sonne his wynges cawhte,
Wherof it malt, and fro the heihte
Withouten help of eny sleihte
He fell to his destruccion.
And lich to that condicion
Ther fallen ofte times fele
For lacke of governance in wele, 1070
Als wel in love as other weie.
Now goode fader, I you preie,
If ther be more in the matiere
Of Slowthe, that I mihte it hiere.
Mi Sone, and for thi diligence,
Which every mannes conscience
Be resoun scholde reule and kepe,
If that thee list to taken kepe,
I wol thee telle, aboven alle
In whom no vertu mai befalle, 1080
Which yifth unto the vices reste
And is of slowe the sloweste.
Among these othre of Slowthes kinde,
Which alle labour set behinde,
And hateth alle besinesse,
Ther is yit on, which Ydelnesse
Is cleped, and is the Norrice
In mannes kinde of every vice,
Which secheth eases manyfold.
In Wynter doth he noght for cold, 1090
In Somer mai he noght for hete;
So whether that he frese or swete,
Or he be inne, or he be oute,
He wol ben ydel al aboute,
Bot if he pleie oght ate Dees.
For who as evere take fees
And thenkth worschipe to deserve,
Ther is no lord whom he wol serve,
As forto duelle in his servise,
Bot if it were in such a wise, 1100
Of that he seth per aventure
That be lordschipe and coverture
He mai the more stonde stille,
And use his ydelnesse at wille.
For he ne wol no travail take
To ryde for his ladi sake,
Bot liveth al upon his wisshes;
And as a cat wolde ete fisshes
Withoute wetinge of his cles,
So wolde he do, bot natheles 1110
He faileth ofte of that he wolde.
Mi Sone, if thou of such a molde
Art mad, now tell me plein thi schrifte.
Nay, fader, god I yive a yifte.
That toward love, as be mi wit,
Al ydel was I nevere yit,
Ne nevere schal, whil I mai go.
Now, Sone, tell me thanne so,
What hast thou don of besischipe
To love and to the ladischipe 1120
Of hire which thi ladi is?
Mi fader, evere yit er this
In every place, in every stede,
What so mi lady hath me bede,
With al myn herte obedient
I have therto be diligent.
And if so is sche bidde noght,
What thing that thanne into my thoght
Comth ferst of that I mai suffise,
I bowe and profre my servise, 1130
Somtime in chambre, somtime in halle,
Riht as I se the times falle.
And whan sche goth to hiere masse,
That time schal noght overpasse,
That I naproche hir ladihede,
In aunter if I mai hire lede
Unto the chapelle and ayein.
Thanne is noght al mi weie in vein,
Somdiel I mai the betre fare,
Whan I, that mai noght fiele hir bare, 1140
Mai lede hire clothed in myn arm:
Bot afterward it doth me harm
Of pure ymaginacioun;
For thanne this collacioun
I make unto miselven ofte,
And seie, "Ha lord, hou sche is softe,
How sche is round, hou sche is smal]
Now wolde god I hadde hire al
Withoute danger at mi wille]"
And thanne I sike and sitte stille, 1150
Of that I se mi besi thoght
Is torned ydel into noght.
Bot for al that lete I ne mai,
Whanne I se time an other dai,
That I ne do my besinesse
Unto mi ladi worthinesse.
For I therto mi wit afaite
To se the times and awaite
What is to done and what to leve:
And so, whan time is, be hir leve, 1160
What thing sche bit me don, I do,
And wher sche bidt me gon, I go,
And whanne hir list to clepe, I come.
Thus hath sche fulliche overcome
Min ydelnesse til I sterve,
So that I mot hire nedes serve,
For as men sein, nede hath no lawe.
Thus mot I nedly to hire drawe,
I serve, I bowe, I loke, I loute,
Min yhe folweth hire aboute, 1170
What so sche wole so wol I,
Whan sche wol sitte, I knele by,
And whan sche stant, than wol I stonde:
Bot whan sche takth hir werk on honde
Of wevinge or enbrouderie,
Than can I noght bot muse and prie
Upon hir fingres longe and smale,
And now I thenke, and now I tale,
And now I singe, and now I sike,
And thus mi contienance I pike. 1180
And if it falle, as for a time
Hir liketh noght abide bime,
Bot besien hire on other thinges,
Than make I othre tariinges
To dreche forth the longe dai,
For me is loth departe away.
And thanne I am so simple of port,
That forto feigne som desport
I pleie with hire litel hound
Now on the bedd, now on the ground, 1190
Now with hir briddes in the cage;
For ther is non so litel page,
Ne yit so simple a chamberere,
That I ne make hem alle chere,
Al for thei scholde speke wel:
Thus mow ye sen mi besi whiel,
That goth noght ydeliche aboute.
And if hir list to riden oute
On pelrinage or other stede,
I come, thogh I be noght bede, 1200
And take hire in min arm alofte
And sette hire in hire sadel softe,
And so forth lede hire be the bridel,
For that I wolde noght ben ydel.
And if hire list to ride in Char,
And thanne I mai therof be war,
Anon I schape me to ryde
Riht evene be the Chares side;
And as I mai, I speke among,
And otherwhile I singe a song, 1210
Which Ovide in his bokes made,
And seide, "O whiche sorwes glade,
O which wofull prosperite
Belongeth to the proprete
Of love, who so wole him serve]
And yit therfro mai noman swerve,
That he ne mot his lawe obeie."
And thus I ryde forth mi weie,
And am riht besi overal
With herte and with mi body al, 1220
As I have said you hier tofore.
My goode fader, tell therfore,
Of Ydelnesse if I have gilt.
Mi Sone, bot thou telle wilt
Oght elles than I mai now hiere,
Thou schalt have no penance hiere.
And natheles a man mai se,
How now adayes that ther be
Ful manye of suche hertes slowe,
That wol noght besien hem to knowe 1230
What thing love is, til ate laste,
That he with strengthe hem overcaste,
That malgre hem thei mote obeie
And don al ydelschipe aweie,
To serve wel and besiliche.
Bot, Sone, thou art non of swiche,
For love schal the wel excuse:
Bot otherwise, if thou refuse
To love, thou miht so per cas
Ben ydel, as somtime was 1240
A kinges dowhter unavised,
Til that Cupide hire hath chastised:
Wherof thou schalt a tale hiere
Acordant unto this matiere.
Of Armenye, I rede thus,
Ther was a king, which Herupus
Was hote, and he a lusti Maide
To dowhter hadde, and as men saide
Hire name was Rosiphelee;
Which tho was of gret renomee, 1250
For sche was bothe wys and fair
And scholde ben hire fader hair.
Bot sche hadde o defalte of Slowthe
Towardes love, and that was rowthe;
For so wel cowde noman seie,
Which mihte sette hire in the weie
Of loves occupacion
Thurgh non ymaginacion;
That scole wolde sche noght knowe.
And thus sche was on of the slowe 1260
As of such hertes besinesse,
Til whanne Venus the goddesse,
Which loves court hath forto reule,
Hath broght hire into betre reule,
Forth with Cupide and with his miht:
For thei merveille how such a wiht,
Which tho was in hir lusti age,
Desireth nother Mariage
Ne yit the love of paramours,
Which evere hath be the comun cours 1270
Amonges hem that lusti were.
So was it schewed after there:
For he that hihe hertes loweth
With fyri Dartes whiche he throweth,
Cupide, which of love is godd,
In chastisinge hath mad a rodd
To dryve awei hir wantounesse;
So that withinne a while, I gesse,
Sche hadde on such a chance sporned,
That al hire mod was overtorned, 1280
Which ferst sche hadde of slow manere:
For thus it fell, as thou schalt hiere.
Whan come was the Monthe of Maii,
Sche wolde walke upon a dai,
And that was er the Sonne Ariste;
Of wommen bot a fewe it wiste,
And forth sche wente prively
Unto the Park was faste by,
Al softe walkende on the gras,
Til sche cam ther the Launde was, 1290
Thurgh which ther ran a gret rivere.
It thoghte hir fair, and seide, "Here
I wole abide under the schawe":
And bad hire wommen to withdrawe,
And ther sche stod al one stille,
To thenke what was in hir wille.
Sche sih the swote floures springe,
Sche herde glade foules singe,
Sche sih the bestes in her kinde,
The buck, the do, the hert, the hinde, 1300
The madle go with the femele;
And so began ther a querele
Betwen love and hir oghne herte,
Fro which sche couthe noght asterte.
And as sche caste hire yhe aboute,
Sche syh clad in o suite a route
Of ladis, wher thei comen ryde
Along under the wodes syde:
On faire amblende hors thei sete,
That were al whyte, fatte and grete, 1310
And everichon thei ride on side.
The Sadles were of such a Pride,
With Perle and gold so wel begon,
So riche syh sche nevere non;
In kertles and in Copes riche
Thei weren clothed, alle liche,
Departed evene of whyt and blew;
With alle lustes that sche knew
Thei were enbrouded overal.
Here bodies weren long and smal, 1320
The beaute faye upon her face
Non erthly thing it may desface;
Corones on here hed thei beere,
As ech of hem a qweene weere,
That al the gold of Cresus halle
The leste coronal of alle
Ne mihte have boght after the worth:
Thus come thei ridende forth.
The kinges dowhter, which this syh,
For pure abaissht drowh hire adryh 1330
And hield hire clos under the bowh,
And let hem passen stille ynowh;
For as hire thoghte in hire avis,
To hem that were of such a pris
Sche was noght worthi axen there,
Fro when they come or what thei were:
Bot levere than this worldes good
Sche wolde have wist hou that it stod,
And putte hire hed alitel oute;
And as sche lokede hire aboute, 1340
Sche syh comende under the linde
A womman up an hors behinde.
The hors on which sche rod was blak,
Al lene and galled on the back,
And haltede, as he were encluyed,
Wherof the womman was annuied;
Thus was the hors in sori plit,
Bot for al that a sterre whit
Amiddes in the front he hadde.
Hir Sadel ek was wonder badde, 1350
In which the wofull womman sat,
And natheles ther was with that
A riche bridel for the nones
Of gold and preciouse Stones.
Hire cote was somdiel totore;
Aboute hir middel twenty score
Of horse haltres and wel mo
Ther hyngen ate time tho.
Thus whan sche cam the ladi nyh,
Than tok sche betre hiede and syh 1360
This womman fair was of visage,
Freyssh, lusti, yong and of tendre age;
And so this ladi, ther sche stod,
Bethoghte hire wel and understod
That this, which com ridende tho,
Tidinges couthe telle of tho,
Which as sche sih tofore ryde,
And putte hir forth and preide abide,
And seide, "Ha, Suster, let me hiere,
What ben thei, that now riden hiere, 1370
And ben so richeliche arraied?"
This womman, which com so esmaied,
Ansuerde with ful softe speche,
And seith, "Ma Dame, I schal you teche.
These ar of tho that whilom were
Servantz to love, and trowthe beere,
Ther as thei hadde here herte set.
Fare wel, for I mai noght be let:
Ma Dame, I go to mi servise,
So moste I haste in alle wise; 1380
Forthi, ma Dame, yif me leve,
I mai noght longe with you leve."
"Ha, goode Soster, yit I preie,
Tell me whi ye ben so beseie
And with these haltres thus begon."
"Ma Dame, whilom I was on
That to mi fader hadde a king;
Bot I was slow, and for no thing
Me liste noght to love obeie,
And that I now ful sore abeie. 1390
For I whilom no love hadde,
Min hors is now so fieble and badde,
And al totore is myn arai,
And every yeer this freisshe Maii
These lusti ladis ryde aboute,
And I mot nedes suie here route
In this manere as ye now se,
And trusse here haltres forth with me,
And am bot as here horse knave.
Non other office I ne have, 1400
Hem thenkth I am worthi nomore,
For I was slow in loves lore,
Whan I was able forto lere,
And wolde noght the tales hiere
Of hem that couthen love teche."
"Now tell me thanne, I you beseche,
Wherof that riche bridel serveth."
With that hire chere awei sche swerveth,
And gan to wepe, and thus sche tolde:
"This bridel, which ye nou beholde 1410
So riche upon myn horse hed,-
Ma Dame, afore, er I was ded,
Whan I was in mi lusti lif,
Ther fel into myn herte a strif
Of love, which me overcom,
So that therafter hiede I nom
And thoghte I wolde love a kniht:
That laste wel a fourtenyht,
For it no lengere mihte laste,
So nyh my lif was ate laste. 1420
Bot now, allas, to late war
That I ne hadde him loved ar:
For deth cam so in haste bime,
Er I therto hadde eny time,
That it ne mihte ben achieved.
Bot for al that I am relieved,
Of that mi will was good therto,
That love soffreth it be so
That I schal swiche a bridel were.
Now have ye herd al myn ansuere: 1430
To godd, ma Dame, I you betake,
And warneth alle for mi sake,
Of love that thei ben noght ydel,
And bidd hem thenke upon mi brydel."
And with that word al sodeinly
Sche passeth, as it were a Sky,
Al clene out of this ladi sihte:
And tho for fere hire herte afflihte,
And seide to hirself, "Helas]
I am riht in the same cas. 1440
Bot if I live after this day,
I schal amende it, if I may."
And thus homward this lady wente,
And changede al hire ferste entente,
Withinne hire herte and gan to swere
That sche none haltres wolde bere.
Lo, Sone, hier miht thou taken hiede,
How ydelnesse is forto drede,
Namliche of love, as I have write.
For thou miht understonde and wite, 1450
Among the gentil nacion
Love is an occupacion,
Which forto kepe hise lustes save
Scholde every gentil herte have:
For as the ladi was chastised,
Riht so the knyht mai ben avised,
Which ydel is and wol noght serve
To love, he mai per cas deserve
A grettere peine than sche hadde,
Whan sche aboute with hire ladde 1460
The horse haltres; and forthi
Good is to be wel war therbi.
Bot forto loke aboven alle,
These Maidens, hou so that it falle,
Thei scholden take ensample of this
Which I have told, for soth it is.
Mi ladi Venus, whom I serve,
What womman wole hire thonk deserve,
Sche mai noght thilke love eschuie
Of paramours, bot sche mot suie 1470
Cupides lawe; and natheles
Men sen such love sielde in pes,
That it nys evere upon aspie
Of janglinge and of fals Envie,
Fulofte medlid with disese:
Bot thilke love is wel at ese,
Which set is upon mariage;
For that dar schewen the visage
In alle places openly.
A gret mervaile it is forthi, 1480
How that a Maiden wolde lette,
That sche hir time ne besette
To haste unto that ilke feste,
Wherof the love is al honeste.
Men mai recovere lost of good,
Bot so wys man yit nevere stod,
Which mai recovere time lore:
So mai a Maiden wel therfore
Ensample take, of that sche strangeth
Hir love, and longe er that sche changeth 1490
Hir herte upon hir lustes greene
To mariage, as it is seene.
For thus a yer or tuo or thre
Sche lest, er that sche wedded be,
Whyl sche the charge myhte bere
Of children, whiche the world forbere
Ne mai, bot if it scholde faile.
Bot what Maiden hire esposaile
Wol tarie, whan sche take mai,
Sche schal per chance an other dai 1500
Be let, whan that hire lievest were.
Wherof a tale unto hire Ere,
Which is coupable upon this dede,
I thenke telle of that I rede.
Among the Jewes, as men tolde,
Ther was whilom be daies olde
A noble Duck, which Jepte hihte.
And fell, he scholde go to fyhte
Ayein Amon the cruel king:
And forto speke upon this thing, 1510
Withinne his herte he made avou
To god and seide, "Ha lord, if thou
Wolt grante unto thi man victoire,
I schal in tokne of thi memoire
The ferste lif that I mai se,
Of man or womman wher it be,
Anon as I come hom ayein,
To thee, which art god sovereign,
Slen in thi name and sacrifie."
And thus with his chivalerie 1520
He goth him forth, wher that he scholde,
And wan al that he winne wolde
And overcam his fomen alle.
Mai noman lette that schal falle.
This Duc a lusti dowhter hadde,
And fame, which the wordes spradde,
Hath broght unto this ladi Ere
How that hire fader hath do there.
Sche waiteth upon his cominge
With dansinge and with carolinge, 1530
As sche that wolde be tofore
Al othre, and so sche was therfore
In Masphat at hir fader gate
The ferste; and whan he com therate,
And sih his douhter, he tobreide
Hise clothes and wepende he seide:
"O mihti god among ous hiere,
Nou wot I that in no manere
This worldes joie mai be plein.
I hadde al that I coude sein 1540
Ayein mi fomen be thi grace,
So whan I cam toward this place
Ther was non gladdere man than I:
But now, mi lord, al sodeinli
Mi joie is torned into sorwe,
For I mi dowhter schal tomorwe
Tohewe and brenne in thi servise
To loenge of thi sacrifise
Thurgh min avou, so as it is."
The Maiden, whan sche wiste of this, 1550
And sih the sorwe hir fader made,
So as sche mai with wordes glade
Conforteth him, and bad him holde
The covenant which he is holde
Towardes god, as he behihte.
Bot natheles hire herte aflihte
Of that sche sih hire deth comende;
And thanne unto the ground knelende
Tofore hir fader sche is falle,
And seith, so as it is befalle 1560
Upon this point that sche schal deie,
Of o thing ferst sche wolde him preie,
That fourty daies of respit
He wolde hir grante upon this plit,
That sche the whyle mai bewepe
Hir maidenhod, which sche to kepe
So longe hath had and noght beset;
Wherof her lusti youthe is let,
That sche no children hath forthdrawe
In Mariage after the lawe, 1570
So that the poeple is noght encressed.
Bot that it mihte be relessed,
That sche hir time hath lore so,
Sche wolde be his leve go
With othre Maidens to compleigne,
And afterward unto the peine
Of deth sche wolde come ayein.
The fader herde his douhter sein,
And therupon of on assent
The Maidens were anon asent, 1580
That scholden with this Maiden wende.
So forto speke unto this ende,
Thei gon the dounes and the dales
With wepinge and with wofull tales,
And every wyht hire maidenhiede
Compleigneth upon thilke nede,
That sche no children hadde bore,
Wherof sche hath hir youthe lore,
Which nevere sche recovere mai:
For so fell that hir laste dai 1590
Was come, in which sche scholde take
Hir deth, which sche may noght forsake.
Lo, thus sche deiede a wofull Maide
For thilke cause which I saide,
As thou hast understonde above.
Mi fader, as toward the Love
Of Maidens forto telle trowthe,
Ye have thilke vice of Slowthe,
Me thenkth, riht wonder wel declared,
That ye the wommen have noght spared 1600
Of hem that tarien so behinde.
Bot yit it falleth in my minde,
Toward the men hou that ye spieke
Of hem that wole no travail sieke
In cause of love upon decerte:
To speke in wordes so coverte,
I not what travaill that ye mente.
Mi Sone, and after min entente
I woll thee telle what I thoghte,
Hou whilom men here loves boghte 1610
Thurgh gret travaill in strange londes,
Wher that thei wroghten with here hondes
Of armes many a worthi dede,
In sondri place as men mai rede.
That every love of pure kinde
Is ferst forthdrawe, wel I finde:
Bot natheles yit overthis
Decerte doth so that it is
The rather had in mani place.
Forthi who secheth loves grace, 1620
Wher that these worthi wommen are,
He mai noght thanne himselve spare
Upon his travail forto serve,
Wherof that he mai thonk deserve,
There as these men of Armes be,
Somtime over the grete Se:
So that be londe and ek be Schipe
He mot travaile for worschipe
And make manye hastyf rodes,
Somtime in Prus, somtime in Rodes, 1630
And somtime into Tartarie;
So that these heraldz on him crie,
"Vailant, vailant, lo, wher he goth]"
And thanne he yifth hem gold and cloth,
So that his fame mihte springe,
And to his ladi Ere bringe
Som tidinge of his worthinesse;
So that sche mihte of his prouesce
Of that sche herde men recorde,
The betre unto his love acorde 1640
And danger pute out of hire mod,
Whanne alle men recorden good,
And that sche wot wel, for hir sake
That he no travail wol forsake.
Mi Sone, of this travail I meene:
Nou schrif thee, for it schal be sene
If thou art ydel in this cas.
My fader ye, and evere was:
For as me thenketh trewely
That every man doth mor than I 1650
As of this point, and if so is
That I have oght so don er this,
It is so litel of acompte,
As who seith, it mai noght amonte
To winne of love his lusti yifte.
For this I telle you in schrifte,
That me were levere hir love winne
Than Kaire and al that is ther inne:
And forto slen the hethen alle,
I not what good ther mihte falle, 1660
So mochel blod thogh ther be schad.
This finde I writen, hou Crist bad
That noman other scholde sle.
What scholde I winne over the Se,
If I mi ladi loste at hom?
Bot passe thei the salte fom,
To whom Crist bad thei scholden preche
To al the world and his feith teche:
Bot now thei rucken in here nest
And resten as hem liketh best 1670
In all the swetnesse of delices.
Thus thei defenden ous the vices,
And sitte hemselven al amidde;
To slen and feihten thei ous bidde
Hem whom thei scholde, as the bok seith,
Converten unto Cristes feith.
Bot hierof have I gret mervaile,
Hou thei wol bidde me travaile:
A Sarazin if I sle schal,
I sle the Soule forth withal, 1680
And that was nevere Cristes lore.
Bot nou ho ther, I seie nomore.
Bot I wol speke upon mi schrifte;
And to Cupide I make a yifte,
That who as evere pris deserve
Of armes, I wol love serve;
And thogh I scholde hem bothe kepe,
Als wel yit wolde I take kepe
Whan it were time to abide,
As forto travaile and to ryde: 1690
For how as evere a man laboure,
Cupide appointed hath his houre.
For I have herd it telle also,
Achilles lefte hise armes so
Bothe of himself and of his men
At Troie for Polixenen,
Upon hire love whanne he fell,
That for no chance that befell
Among the Grecs or up or doun,
He wolde noght ayein the toun 1700
Ben armed, for the love of hire.
And so me thenketh, lieve Sire,
A man of armes mai him reste
Somtime in hope for the beste,
If he mai finde a weie nerr.
What scholde I thanne go so ferr
In strange londes many a mile
To ryde, and lese at hom therwhile
Mi love? It were a schort beyete
To winne chaf and lese whete. 1710
Bot if mi ladi bidde wolde,
That I for hire love scholde
Travaile, me thenkth trewely
I mihte fle thurghout the Sky,
And go thurghout the depe Se,
For al ne sette I at a stre
What thonk that I mihte elles gete.
What helpeth it a man have mete,
Wher drinke lacketh on the

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