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John Gower speaks through the centuries
to present day political leaders
in Brodie's modern English version of
The Education of a King, Book 7 in Confessio Amantis
|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
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;
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,
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.
|King Demephon, whan he by schipe
To Troié ward with felaschip
Sailend goth, upon his wey
It hapneth him at Rodepey,
As Eolus him haddé blow,
To londe, and rested for a throwe.
And fell that ilké timé thus,
That the doughter of Lígurgús,
Which quené was of the contré,
Was sojournenéd in that citee
Within a castel nigh the stronde,
Where Demephon cam up to londe.
Phillis sche hight, and of yong age
And of statúre and of viságe
Sche had all that her best besemeth.
Of Demephon riht wel her quemeth,
Whan he was come, and made him chere;
And he, that was of his manere
A lusty knyht, ne myht asterte
That he ne set on her his herte;
So that within a day or two
He thought, how ever that it go,
He wolde assaié the fortúne;
And gan his herté to commune
With goodly wordés in her ere,
And for to put hir out of fere
He swore and hath his trouthé plight
To be for ever her owné knight.
And thus with her he stille abode,
There while his ship on anker rode,
And had inough of time and space
To speke of love and seché grace.
This lady herd all that he saide,
And how he swore and how he praide,
Which was as an enchauntément
To her, that was as innocent:
As though it weré trouthe and feith
She leveth all that ever he saith,
And as hire infortúné sholde,
She graunteth him all that he wolde.
|By ship to Troy, King Demophon
And all his company was gone.
It chanced that on the voyage, he
Put in a while at Rhodope
(For Aeolus had blown him there)
For a short rest and for repair.
It chanced that, while he tarried thus,
The daughter of Ligurgius -
Who reigned in Rhodope as Queen -
Had for a certain season been
In her town fortress near the strand
Where Demophon had come to land.
Her name was Phyllis, young in years,
In her, both face and form appears
Nothing that could be lovelier.
Now, Demophon attracted her;
So, when he joined her, she made much
Of him; his character was such
This lusty knight, he could but learn
To love the lady in return;
And thus, within a day or so,
He thought, 'However things may go,
At least I mean to try my chance.'
With sweet words, he began to advance
His suit; and, whispering in her ear,
At last he quietened her fear:
For this, he swore, was his troth-plight
Ever to be her own true knight.
And thus together they abode
While still the ships at anchor rode;
And they had ample time and space
To speak of love and learn its grace.
She trusted all he had to say:
When he would vow, when he would pray,
Al this - to her - was ravishment
For she was but an innocent.
She took his words as Gospel truth
Thought him sincere in very sooth,
And - more the pity that she should -
Granted her lover all he would.
|King Demophon, when he by ship
Was making unto Troy a trip,
It happened that Aeolus blew
Him on a course that took him to
Amphipolis which is a place
That's on the southern coast of Thrace.
And then the fates did intervene:
The daughter of Lycurgus, queen
Of all the land was on a visit
To the city; an exquisite
Castle had she, near the strand
Where Demophon came onto land.
Dame Phyllis was her name, and she
Was young, a lovely sight to see;
With pretty eyes and voice and arms,
On Demophon she worked her charms
When he arrived, and made him glad;
He quite a reputation had
For womanizing; from the start
He on this lady set his heart;
So that within a day or so
He thought, however things might go,
He'd see what fortune had in store,
And from his heart began to pour
Sweet words; he whispered in her ear
So softly she could feel no fear;
He unto her his troth did plight
To be forever her own knight.
And thus he stayed at her abode,
There while his ship at anchor rode;
To talk of love his time he savors
As from her he pleads for favors.
Hearing all that he had said,
And how he swore and how he pled,
Was in her innocence a treat
So nice, it swept her off her feet;
As all reliable and true,
She did his wily words construe,
So just before her bubble bursts,
She grants him all for which he thirsts.
|An excerpt from Book 2 "Tale of
the False Bachelor"
illustrating the difference between a translation and a modernization.
Note that in order to achieve the perfect rhyme and meter characteristic of Gower,
there are many synonym substitutions and rephrasings, as well as updating to a modern idiom,
an occasional triplet rhyme (as in Dryden's rendering of the Knight's Tale), and occasional line interchanges.
|Original Middle English||Literal translation||Brodie's modernization|
|This bacheler was tho
And wedded, and of thilke empire
He was coroned lord and sire,
And al the lond him hath received;
Wherof his lord, which was deceived,
A seknesse er the thridde morwe
Conceived hath of dedly sorwe.
And as he lay upon his deth,
Therwhile him lasteth speche and breth,
He sende for the worthieste
Of al the lond and ek the beste,
And tolde hem al the sothe tho,
That he was sone and heir also
Of th'emperour of grete Rome,
And how that thei togedre come,
This kniht and he. Riht as it was,
He tolde hem al the pleine cas,
And for that he his conseil tolde,
That other hath al that he wolde,
And he hath failed of his mede.
As for the good he takth non hiede,
He seith, bot only of the love
Of which he wende have ben above.
|The squire was then accommodated
And wedded, and of that empire
He was crowned lord and sire,
And all the land received him,
Whereof his lord, who was deceived,
A sickness on the third morning
Did conceive from deadly sorrow.
And as he lay upon his death [bed],
While his speech and breath lasted,
He sent for the worthiest
Of the land and also the best,
And then told them all the truth,
That he was son and also heir
Of the emperor of great Rome,
And how they together had come,
This knight and he. Just as it was,
He plainly told them all,
And because he [had] divulged his confidence,
That other has all that he would [have had].
And he has been denied his royal endowment.
As for the wealth he takes no heed,
He says, but only of the love
Which he regarded as sent from above..
|This bachelor then got his way
And was upon the wedding day
Crowned to be lord, as was his aim.
And all the land did him acclaim:
Whereon his lord, who was deceived,
From mortal misery, conceived
A sickness ere three days had passed.
And while his speech and breath did last,
As on his deathbed he did rest,
He made one dying last request
To see the best men in the land,
Then on the truth he did expand,
That he was heir to him who reigned
As king in Rome, and then explained,
That he together with his squire
Had come. And all that did transpire
He told them plainly, how because
He did confide in him, it was
That someone else had robbed him of
The prize that he deserved in love,
Which was ordained by heav'n above,
For that is all he cared about,
Her dowry he could do without.
|An excerpt from Book 4 "The
Sin of Sloth"
illustrating the difference between Tiller's tanslation and Brodie's modernization.
|Original Middle English||Tiller's translation||Brodie's modernization|
|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,
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.
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,
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."
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
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,
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.
|The first degree of Sloth I
Delay - and he is worst of all,
Because his nature is the kind
That let's all business get behind.
What he might finish now and here
Will linger on throughout the year
With his 'Tomorrow; yes, tomorrow.'
So long as there is time to borrow,
He thinks God will provide and lend;
And when he means to make an end,
He is less likely to begin.
Now this brings many a mischief in
Upon him, unbeknown: at last
The chance to save him has gone past.
The lineaments of laziness
In Love are neither more nor less:
His inactivity today
May throw his final chance away.
My son, in matters of this kind,
Hast thou no guilt upon thy mind -
As touching love - of laziness?
If so, speak on. Good father, yes.
Delay may count me as his own;
I wear his livery, am shown
In the front rank of all his suite:
For, though resolving to compete
For her, and having set a day
To speak to the dear girl, Delay
Has said, 'More sensible to wait;
The time is not appropriate
For speaking to her yet.' And so,
With all his whisperings to and fro
He steals my time away from me;
For, when no fairer chance could be
He says, 'Another day were better;
Wiser, perhaps, to send a letter
Lest, in her presence, you should fear
To be entirely frank and clear?'
Thus I have let my chances slide;
My sloth has lost me time and tide;
Sinful delays have come of it
And often so befooled my wit
(And all I meant to do and say
Has been so tangled in delay)
That in the end my chance was gone.
I know not what my mind was on,
Nor whether I felt fear or shame;
But, ever in earnest or in game,
I know how long a time has passed.
Yet the great love stands firm and fast
As ever, towards my lady: though
My tongue, in begging, may be slow
At all times, yet, as I have prayed
This heart of my has never strayed
From busily beseeching grace -
Which I may not as yet embrace.
And God knows, this is malgre moi
For at least I am sure, ma foi,
So rarely does that grace appear,
Its is a tardiness I fear
More than all others I have met
Within the Court of Love as yet.
|Of Sloth, Procrastination takes
The prize for prince of man's mistakes,
Some tasks he will completely shun,
And leave some other things undone.
What he could do now may well stay
Undone for months; day after day
He'll say "Tomorrow", that's the lie
He tells that he more time may buy,
And after "May God grant me grace,"
When he ought to have won the race,
Then he's still on the starting block.
Thus trouble at his door will knock
Until at last he'll come to grief,
And may not then obtain relief.
Procrastination is, with love,
A bad thing to be guilty of:
It may be, some time he'll delay
And lose his chance to win the day.
Now, son, as to this thing, if you
Believe that you may hitherto
Have ever been this way in love
Speak up. Yes, father, I've been of
Procrastination guilty, for
I know that I've stood in his corps,
As if his uniform I wore:
For when in my pursuit, to show
The spine to set a date, to go
And speak unto my sweet young maid,
Procrastination, I'm afraid,
Excuses makes: "To be forthright,
You ought to try some other night."
Thus am I hindered by his sleight,
With tarrying he'll waste my time:
On an occasion that was prime,
He'll say, "Some other time is better;
Maybe you should send a letter,
Wherein you might well convey
More than your mouth would dare to say."
And thus, from Sloth, I've let time slide,
And could not even say, "I tried."
And thus Procrastination oft
Has made me in the head so soft,
That what I had in mind to speak
Or do, he made my will so weak,
That on my plans I could not act.
I don't know what I mostly lacked,
The courage or the confidence:
Nevertheless in every sense,
Although I know much time has passed,
Yet has that love remained steadfast,
Which for my lady I still feel;
For though my words may not reveal
My wants, for which I've always prayed;
In one place my heart's always stayed
And sought unceasingly for grace
For what I may not yet embrace.
And God knows that's not what I want;
But though I am no great savant,
I know my grace so seldom comes
Because of Sloth. My feast of crumbs
I to that sin, more than the rest,
Impute the blame for love unblest.
THE GRAND UNIFIED
Conceived and Perfected
The World's Longest Anagram
Co-author of The Anagrammed Bible
The God of Israel - an anagram for every chapter in the Bible
The epic poem Exodus
Tribute to Professor Alfred H. Welsh
Triple anagram of Psalms 119
Quintuple anagram of Shakespeare's Sonnet # 17
Work in progress: The Book of Psalms completely anagrammed
Pope's Dunciad Variorum
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