Modern English version
Book 1 - The Sin of Pride
see also Prologue, Book 2, Book 3, Book 4, Book 5, Book 6, Book 7, and Book 8
© Copyright 2007 Richard Brodie
(Middle English text from MacAulay)
following is a list of all the sections in this book. Greyed out sections
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Encounter with Cupid and Venus
Confession and Forgiveness
Abuse of the Eyes
Perseus and the Gorgons
Abuse of the Ears
Ulysses and the Sirens
Admission of Guilt
Mundus and Paulina
The Flip Side of Hypocrisy
The Trojan Horse
Hypocrisy in Love
Murmur and Complaint
Florent and the Hag
The Trump of Death
Arrogance in Love
Albinus and Rosemund
Humility, the Opposite of Pride
Alphonse and Peronelle
Humility in Love
is used instead of margin indications or quotation marks
(except where the original text uses quotation marks)
to identify speakers in dialogue mode:
Blue for Amans
Orange for Genius
Purple for Venus
Black is used for Gower, and for Genius in story telling mode.
|I may noght strecche up
to the hevene
Min hand, ne setten al in evene
This world, which evere is in balance:
It stant noght in my sufficance
So grete thinges to compasse,
Bot I mot lete it overpasse
And treten upon othre thinges.
Forthi the Stile of my writinges
Fro this day forth I thenke change
And speke of thing is noght so strange,
Which every kinde hath upon honde,
And wherupon the world mot stonde,
And hath don sithen it began,
And schal whil ther is any man;
And that is love, of which I mene
To trete, as after schal be sene.
In which ther can noman him reule,
For loves lawe is out of reule,
That of tomoche or of tolite
Welnyh is every man to wyte,
And natheles ther is noman
In al this world so wys, that can
Of love tempre the mesure,
Bot as it falth in aventure:
For wit ne strengthe may noght helpe,
And he which elles wolde him yelpe
Is rathest throwen under fote,
Ther can no wiht therof do bote.
For yet was nevere such covine,
That couthe ordeine a medicine
To thing which god in lawe of kinde
Hath set, for ther may noman finde
The rihte salve of such a Sor.
It hath and schal ben everemor
That love is maister wher he wile,
Ther can no lif make other skile;
For wher as evere him lest to sette,
Ther is no myht which him may lette.
Bot what schal fallen ate laste,
The sothe can no wisdom caste,
Bot as it falleth upon chance;
For if ther evere was balance
Which of fortune stant governed,
I may wel lieve as I am lerned
That love hath that balance on honde,
Which wol no reson understonde.
For love is blind and may noght se,
Forthi may no certeinete
Be set upon his jugement,
Bot as the whiel aboute went
He yifth his graces undeserved,
And fro that man which hath him served
Fulofte he takth aweye his fees,
As he that pleieth ate Dees,
And therupon what schal befalle
He not, til that the chance falle,
Wher he schal lese or he schal winne.
And thus fulofte men beginne,
That if thei wisten what it mente,
Thei wolde change al here entente.
And forto proven it is so,
I am miselven on of tho,
Which to this Scole am underfonge.
For it is siththe go noght longe,
As forto speke of this matiere,
I may you telle, if ye woll hiere,
A wonder hap which me befell,
That was to me bothe hard and fell,
Touchende of love and his fortune,
The which me liketh to comune
And pleinly forto telle it oute.
To hem that ben lovers aboute
Fro point to point I wol declare
And wryten of my woful care,
Mi wofull day, my wofull chance,
That men mowe take remembrance
Of that thei schall hierafter rede:
For in good feith this wolde I rede,
That every man ensample take
Of wisdom which him is betake,
And that he wot of good aprise
To teche it forth, for such emprise
Is forto preise; and therfore I
Woll wryte and schewe al openly
How love and I togedre mette,
Wherof the world ensample fette
Mai after this, whan I am go,
Of thilke unsely jolif wo,
Whos reule stant out of the weie,
Nou glad and nou gladnesse aweie,
And yet it may noght be withstonde
For oght that men may understonde.
|My hand to heav’n I cannot reach
And God’s own governance impeach,
Nor make, on earth all just and fair:
For of my limits I’m aware,
Such great things are beyond by range,
And so my focus I shall change
And different matters now discuss.
From this day forth my writings thus
I’ll change in substance and in style
And speak of something for a while
That is on everybody’s mind,
Of great concern to all mankind,
Which has been since man’s mortal birth,
And shall be while man’s on the earth;
And that is love, which I shall be
Discoursing on, as you’ll soon see.
In love no man himself can rule,
For love’s laws are not taught in school;
For fanning high or low love’s flame
Man only has himself to blame,
And in this world there is no man
So wise that he love’s potion can
Precisely mix to yield romance,
For it is stirred by random chance.
Intelligence will not avail,
And whoso thinks it will shall fail;
He’ll fall so fast, such pain he’ll feel
That none can help his heart to heal.
For never was a man so wise
That could a medicine devise
For that which by God’s law is fixed,
For there is no man yet who’s mixed
The proper salve for such a sore.
It’s been this way and everemore
Shall be, that where he will, love’s king,
Men can arrange no other thing;
Whatever may be his intent
No pow’r on earth him can prevent.
But what shall ultimately be,
No wise man can with certainty
Predict, the outcome rests on chance.
If there are scales that weigh romance
Which are with fortune’s favors fraught,
I must believe, or so I’m taught ,
Those scales are in the hands of love,
Which reason has no concept of.
Love cannot see, for it is blind,
No certainty can be assigned
Unto his judgment’s fickle calls,
But from the wheel of Fortune falls
His favors, largely undeserved,
For from that man who has him served
Are taken all the fees he’s earned,
As if in dice he’d just been burned;
And so the fate that he’ll be doled
He knows not, till the dice are rolled,
If he shall win or he shall lose.
And thus a course men often choose,
That if they knew where it would lead,
They’d think twice ere they did proceed.
To prove to you these thing are true,
I am myself one of those too,
Who’s in this school of life enrolled.
For not too long ago behold,
To make these matters very clear,
I can recount, if you will hear,
A wondrous thing that did transpire
Affecting me that was most dire,
Concerning love, and his cruel fate,
Which I’d like straight out to relate
And to you all most plainly tell.
To every lover listen well
As point by point I shall explain
And write of my most woeful pain,
My woeful day, my woeful fate,
That men hereafter may relate
To what it is they here shall read:
For in good faith with you I’d plead,
That an example you may take
Of wisdom which is for your sake
Intended; he who’s learning’s wise
Shall teach you, such an enterprise
Is worthy; and so I will write
And open plainly to your sight
How love upon my life did dawn,
That an example may be drawn
By men when I am laid to rest,
Of such a happy woe unblest,
Whose principles cannot be known,
Now hope is here and now it’s flown,
It’s will a man may not oppose
No matter what he thinks he knows.
|Upon the point that is
Of love, in which that I am falle,
I thenke telle my matiere:
Now herkne, who that wol it hiere,
Of my fortune how that it ferde.
This enderday, as I forthferde
To walke, as I yow telle may,-
And that was in the Monthe of Maii,
Whan every brid hath chose his make
And thenkth his merthes forto make
Of love that he hath achieved;
Bot so was I nothing relieved,
For I was further fro my love
Than Erthe is fro the hevene above,
As forto speke of eny sped:
So wiste I me non other red,
Bot as it were a man forfare
Unto the wode I gan to fare,
Noght forto singe with the briddes,
For whanne I was the wode amiddes,
I fond a swote grene pleine,
And ther I gan my wo compleigne
Wisshinge and wepinge al myn one,
For other merthes made I none.
So hard me was that ilke throwe,
That ofte sithes overthrowe
To grounde I was withoute breth;
And evere I wisshide after deth,
Whanne I out of my peine awok,
And caste up many a pitous lok
Unto the hevene, and seide thus:
"O thou Cupide, O thou Venus,
Thou god of love and thou goddesse,
Wher is pite? wher is meknesse?
Now doth me pleinly live or dye,
For certes such a maladie
As I now have and longe have hadd,
It myhte make a wisman madd,
If that it scholde longe endure.
O Venus, queene of loves cure,
Thou lif, thou lust, thou mannes hele,
Behold my cause and my querele,
And yif me som part of thi grace,
So that I may finde in this place
If thou be gracious or non."
And with that word I sawh anon
The kyng of love and qweene bothe;
Bot he that kyng with yhen wrothe
His chiere aweiward fro me caste,
And forth he passede ate laste.
Bot natheles er he forth wente
A firy Dart me thoghte he hente
And threw it thurgh myn herte rote:
In him fond I non other bote,
For lenger list him noght to duelle.
Bot sche that is the Source and Welle
Of wel or wo, that schal betide
To hem that loven, at that tide
Abod, bot forto tellen hiere
Sche cast on me no goodly chiere:
Thus natheles to me sche seide,
"What art thou, Sone?" and I abreide
Riht as a man doth out of slep,
And therof tok sche riht good kep
And bad me nothing ben adrad:
Bot for al that I was noght glad,
For I ne sawh no cause why.
And eft scheo asketh, what was I:
I seide, "A Caitif that lith hiere:
What wolde ye, my Ladi diere?
Schal I ben hol or elles dye?"
Sche seide, "Tell thi maladie:
What is thi Sor of which thou pleignest?
Ne hyd it noght, for if thou feignest,
I can do the no medicine."
"Ma dame, I am a man of thyne,
That in thi Court have longe served,
And aske that I have deserved,
Some wele after my longe wo."
And sche began to loure tho,
And seide, "Ther is manye of yow
Faitours, and so may be that thow
Art riht such on, and be feintise
Seist that thou hast me do servise."
And natheles sche wiste wel,
Mi world stod on an other whiel
Withouten eny faiterie:
Bot algate of my maladie
Sche bad me telle and seie hir trowthe.
"Ma dame, if ye wolde have rowthe,"
Quod I, "than wolde I telle yow."
"Sey forth," quod sche, "and tell me how;
Schew me thi seknesse everydiel."
"Ma dame, that can I do wel,
Be so my lif therto wol laste."
|So while we’re on the subject of
My own affliction, namely love,
My circumstances I’ll relate:
So hearken, as about my fate
I’ll speak, that which to me occurred.
One day, as I myself bestirred
To walk, it was as I recall
The month of May, a time when all
The birds have made their choice of mates
And each one gladly celebrates
The love that for him is in store;
But I did take no comfort, for
I was more distant from my love
Than earth is from the heav’n above.
Of any luck in love to speak,
Or prospects, mine were very weak,
Of hope I felt bereft and so
Into the wooodlands I did go,
Not singing with the birds and bees,
For as I walked amid the trees,
A meadow green I came across,
And my complaint of woe and loss
I made, with crying I did quake,
For nothing could me joyful make.
So painful was my ache profound,
That many times down on the ground
I fell till I was out of breath;
And ever did I wish for death,
And when my pain let up, then I
With many a piteous look did cry
Unto the heaven, saying: How:
“O Cupid and O Venus, thou
The god of love, and goddess, Can
You take no pity on a man
You see whose very life could be
At stake, for such a malady
As I now have and long have had,
Could make a wise man go quite mad,
If he should long endure such pain.
O Venus, love's queen, to whose reign,
Belong man’s lusts, thou lover’s saint
Behold my cause and my complaint,
And give me some part of thy grace,
So that I may find in this place
Thy graciousness descend on me.
And with those words anon I see
The king of love and too the queen;
This king, whose countenance was mean
His face away from me did turn,
And from my presence passed, all stern.
But ere he left he took and threw
A dart that like an arrow flew
And through my withered heart it went:
From him no soothing salve was sent,
For he was very quick to go.
But she who is the source of woe
Or weal for those who love in vain
Or with success, chose to remain,
Though she deigned not, as my heart bled
On me her soothing salve to spread:
But she said to me, ere she goes
What art thou, son? and up I rose
Abruptly as from sleep, and she
Took notice, as she said to me
That there was nothing I should fear:
Her words though gave no cause for cheer,
For I knew not the reason why.
And when she asked me, what was I:
A helpless captive lying here:
What say you,my lady dear?
Shall I be whole or shall I die
She said, Please tell me why you cry:
What is the cause of your complaint?
Nay, hide it not, for if you feint,
I have no medicine for you,”
“Madam, I have to you been true,
For in thy court I long did serve,
And only ask what I deserve,
Some fairness once for all the foul.”
Then at me she began to scowl,
And said, Of you imposters there
Are many, and I must beware
For you might fraudulently claim
That service to me was your aim.
This, even though quite well she knew
That in my dealings I was true
Without one base deceiving trait:
So all my woeful wretched fate
She bade me truthfully report.
If I compassion from your court,
Might gain I'll gladly let you know.
Speak now, she said, of all thy woe;
Thine every sickness show me now.
“To do that, m’am, I well know how,
If long enough my life would last.”
|With that hir lok on me sche caste,
And seide: "In aunter if thou live,
Mi will is ferst that thou be schrive;
And natheles how that it is
I wot miself, bot for al this
Unto my prest, which comth anon,
I woll thou telle it on and on,
Bothe all thi thoght and al thi werk.
O Genius myn oghne Clerk,
Com forth and hier this mannes schrifte,"
Quod Venus tho; and I uplifte
Min hefd with that, and gan beholde
The selve Prest, which as sche wolde
Was redy there and sette him doun
To hiere my confessioun.
This worthi Prest, this holy man
To me spekende thus began,
And seide: "Benedicite,
Mi Sone, of the felicite
Of love and ek of all the wo
Thou schalt thee schrive of bothe tuo.
What thou er this for loves sake
Hast felt, let nothing be forsake,
Tell pleinliche as it is befalle."
And with that word I gan doun falle
On knees, and with devocioun
And with full gret contricioun
I seide thanne: "Dominus,
Min holi fader Genius,
So as thou hast experience
Of love, for whos reverence
Thou schalt me schriven at this time,
I prai the let me noght mistime
Mi schrifte, for I am destourbed
In al myn herte, and so contourbed,
That I ne may my wittes gete,
So schal I moche thing foryete:
Bot if thou wolt my schrifte oppose
Fro point to point, thanne I suppose,
Ther schal nothing be left behinde.
Bot now my wittes ben so blinde,
That I ne can miselven teche."
Tho he began anon to preche,
And with his wordes debonaire
He seide tome softe and faire:
"Thi schrifte to oppose and hiere,
My Sone, I am assigned hiere
Be Venus the godesse above,
Whos Prest I am touchende of love.
Bot natheles for certein skile
I mot algate and nedes wile
Noght only make my spekynges
Of love, bot of othre thinges,
That touchen to the cause of vice.
For that belongeth to thoffice
Of Prest, whos ordre that I bere,
So that I wol nothing forbere,
That I the vices on and on
Ne schal thee schewen everychon;
Wherof thou myht take evidence
To reule with thi conscience.
Bot of conclusion final
Conclude I wol in special
For love, whos servant I am,
And why the cause is that I cam.
So thenke I to don bothe tuo,
Ferst that myn ordre longeth to,
The vices forto telle arewe,
Bot next above alle othre schewe
Of love I wol the propretes,
How that thei stonde be degrees
After the disposicioun
Of Venus, whos condicioun
I moste folwe, as I am holde.
For I with love am al withholde,
So that the lasse I am to wyte,
Thogh I ne conne bot a lyte
Of othre thinges that ben wise:
I am noght tawht in such a wise;
For it is noght my comun us
To speke of vices and vertus,
Bot al of love and of his lore,
For Venus bokes of nomore
Me techen nowther text ne glose.
Bot for als moche as I suppose
It sit a prest to be wel thewed,
And schame it is if he be lewed,
Of my Presthode after the forme
I wol thi schrifte so enforme,
That ate leste thou schalt hiere
The vices, and to thi matiere
Of love I schal hem so remene,
That thou schalt knowe what thei mene.
For what a man schal axe or sein
Touchende of schrifte, it mot be plein,
It nedeth noght to make it queinte,
For trowthe hise wordes wol noght peinte:
That I wole axe of the forthi,
My Sone, it schal be so pleinly,
That thou schalt knowe and understonde
The pointz of schrifte how that thei stonde."
Betwen the lif and deth I herde
This Prestes tale er I answerde,
And thanne I preide him forto seie
His will, and I it wolde obeie
After the forme of his apprise.
|With that her
look on me she cast,
And said: Since you might not survive,
Forgiveness while you’re still alive
Comes first; your case is unto me
Well known; I’d like for you to see
My priest, who now towards us speeds,
To whom your thoughts, and all your deeds,
You can confess till you're released.
O Genius, my own faithful priest,
Come now and hear ye this man's shrift.
As thus she speaks, my head I lift
And lo, this self-same priest I see,
Who was, just as she said he’d be
Prepared to speak with me right there
And listen as my soul I bare.
This worthy priest, this holy man
Aaddressing me thus he began,
And said: “On you my blessings be
My son; of love’s felicity
And also of its grief and pain
Confess, and absolution gain.
What you in love of joy or hell
Have felt, omitting nothing tell
Exactly how for you it went.”
At that down on my knees I bent
To offer up my humble plea,
And as contrite as I could be
Dear Lord, I humbly said, and thee,
My holy father Genius; Since
Experience thou dost evince
In love, and out of reverence true
Now my confession take, please do
Not let me in confession fail
For I am troubled, and I’m frail
Of heart, and I am so distressed,
I fear my reason may not wrest
Control, and some things I’ll forget.
But if by prompting you’ll not let
Important matters slip my mind
Then nothing shall be left behind.
But my own mind I wish I knew;
I’m oft without the slightest clue.
Then he began to preach, inclined
To speak with words extremely kind,
And said to me with gentleness:
“To question you when you confess,
By Venus I am here assigned,
She who in heaven you will find,
Whose priest I am where love’s concerned.
But nonetheless when I’ve discerned
That the occasion might demand,
I’ll turn from love and to expand
On other subjects I’ll begin,
Pertaining to the source of sin.
For with the order that I’m in
That is a necessary thing,
So I’ll leave nothing out, but bring
To your attention one by one
All seven sins, then we’ll be done;
And then you may instruction take
And conscience your commander make.
But ultimately when we’re through
You’ll see that all will have to do
With love, who claims my loyalty;
That's why I came, as you shall see.
Two things will our attention claim,
First, as it is my order's aim,
The vices I’ll delineate,
But most importantly I’ll state,
Concerning all love’s different parts,
How they are by that queen of hearts
Regarded as she is disposed,
Whose stipulations I’m supposed
To follow, as my vows require.
For I’m a stranger to love’s fire,
So that to sin I’m less inclined;
There isn’t much that’s on my mind
Of other things that would be sage:
My learning’s from a different page;
For me it’s not a common thing
Of vice to speak and virtue sing,
But only what to love pertains
For her book nothing else contains,
In any text on any page.
But as a priest who’s worth his wage
I must well educated be,
I can’t claim 'I have no degree!'
So your confession I expect
That as your priest I shall direct
In such a way that you shall learn
The vices, and how they in turn
Relate back unto love’s affairs,
And know how each one love impairs.
For as regards confession one
Rule says it must be plainly done,
Not abstract, down to earth, concrete,
With candor and with truth replete:
The questions that from me you’ll hear
My son, will be most plain and clear,
So that you may appreciate
How to confession they relate.”
While hovering twixt life and death
I spoke not but restrained my breath,
But then I stayed no longer still,
“Please speak and I’ll obey your will,
And to all your advice pay heed.”
|Tho spak he tome in such a wise,
And bad me that I scholde schrive
As touchende of my wittes fyve,
And schape that thei were amended
Of that I hadde hem misdispended.
For tho be proprely the gates,
Thurgh whiche as to the herte algates
Comth alle thing unto the feire,
Which may the mannes Soule empeire.
And now this matiere is broght inne,
Mi Sone, I thenke ferst beginne
To wite how that thin yhe hath stonde,
The which is, as I understonde,
The moste principal of alle,
Thurgh whom that peril mai befalle.
And forto speke in loves kinde,
Ful manye suche a man mai finde,
Whiche evere caste aboute here yhe,
To loke if that thei myhte aspie
Fulofte thing which hem ne toucheth,
Bot only that here herte soucheth
In hindringe of an other wiht;
And thus ful many a worthi knyht
And many a lusti lady bothe
Have be fulofte sythe wrothe.
So that an yhe is as a thief
To love, and doth ful gret meschief;
And also for his oghne part
Fulofte thilke firy Dart
Of love, which that evere brenneth,
Thurgh him into the herte renneth:
And thus a mannes yhe ferst
Himselve grieveth alther werst,
And many a time that he knoweth
Unto his oghne harm it groweth.
Mi Sone, herkne now forthi
A tale, to be war therby
Thin yhe forto kepe and warde,
So that it passe noght his warde.
|He spake and
told me I would need
On my five senses to reflect
Which my confession would affect,
And make sure they were better used
If ever I had them abused.
For surely they’re the entry gate
Through which things that to love relate
Gain entry to the market place,
Wherein man’s soul may find disgrace.
And now he brings up this concern:
My son, I’d like at first to learn
About how you have used your eye,
That most important organ I
Regard no other higher than,
Through which misfortune comes to man.
To speak of love’s peculiar ways,
That man who at love’s pastime plays
Who always casts around his eye
To look and see if he might spy
That which is not his business, will
Some woman’s needs aspire to fill
In whom some other man delights.
In this way many worthy knights
And lusty ladies have with ire
Been filled from prurient desire.
And thus the eye is like a thief
To love, and causes man much grief;
And too, from his own viewpoint seen,
It’s that same dart that sails unseen
With burning, fiery passion fierce
Through his defenseless heart to pierce:
Of all the senses first of all
His eye man grieves the worst of all
And many a time, as he well knows
To his own detriment it grows.
Therefore my son, a tale I’ll share
Of which you should be well aware
To help you keep your eye in check,
So it won’t make your life a wreck.
|Ovide telleth in his bok
Ensample touchende of mislok,
And seith hou whilom ther was on,
A worthi lord, which Acteon
Was hote, and he was cousin nyh
To him that Thebes ferst on hyh
Up sette, which king Cadme hyhte.
This Acteon, as he wel myhte,
Above alle othre caste his chiere,
And used it fro yer to yere,
With Houndes and with grete Hornes
Among the wodes and the thornes
To make his hunting and his chace:
Where him best thoghte in every place
To finde gamen in his weie,
Ther rod he forto hunte and pleie.
So him befell upon a tide
On his hunting as he cam ride,
In a Forest al one he was:
He syh upon the grene gras
The faire freisshe floures springe,
He herde among the leves singe
The Throstle with the nyhtingale:
Thus er he wiste into a Dale
He cam, wher was a litel plein,
All round aboute wel besein
With buisshes grene and Cedres hyhe;
And ther withinne he caste his yhe.
Amidd the plein he syh a welle,
So fair ther myhte noman telle,
In which Diana naked stod
To bathe and pleie hire in the flod
With many a Nimphe, which hire serveth.
Bot he his yhe awey ne swerveth
Fro hire, which was naked al,
And sche was wonder wroth withal,
And him, as sche which was godesse,
Forschop anon, and the liknesse
Sche made him taken of an Hert,
Which was tofore hise houndes stert,
That ronne besiliche aboute
With many an horn and many a route,
That maden mochel noise and cry:
And ate laste unhappely
This Hert his oghne houndes slowhe
And him for vengance al todrowhe.
Lo now, my Sone, what it is
A man to caste his yhe amis,
Which Acteon hath dere aboght;
Be war forthi and do it noght.
For ofte, who that hiede toke,
Betre is to winke than to loke.
And forto proven it is so,
Ovide the Poete also
A tale which to this matiere
Acordeth seith, as thou schalt hiere.
in his book
Of how a man may wrongly look:
There was one time a worthy lord
Whose name was Acteon adored
By all in Thebes, a cousin to
Him who that city built and who
As monarch was king Cadmus called.
This prince, within this city walled,
Above all others folks was fond
Of hunting, every year he donned
His gear and with great horns and hounds
To thorny woodland hunting grounds
He’d venture and enjoy the chase:
Where he thought best to every place
He rode for hunting and for play,
To stalk and to pursue his prey.
Once as the hunt he did begin
It happened that when he was in
The woods he found himself alone:
He saw that much green grass had grown
On which fresh flowers fair had sprung,
The thrush and nightingale among
The rustling foliage he did hear:
Erelong into a meadow clear
Within a valley he did ride;
All round about on every side
Were bushes green and cedars high;
Into this place he cast his eye.
A pleasant well was in this plain,
How fair no mortal might explain,
Diana stood completely bare
To bathe and in the waters there
With many nymphs who served her play.
He did not turn his eyes away
From her who stood all naked there;
At him she cast an angry glare,
And as she was a goddess she
Transformed him so that he would be
A stag for everyone to see,
Which startled all his hounds, as he
Most anxiously did run around
While many a hunter’s horn did sound
That loud incessant noises made:
His ill fate he could not evade,
As his own hounds his life did take
And tore him up for vengeance sake.
My son, consider how much pain
Was purchased for so little gain,
When Acteon miscast his eye;
This lesson to yourself apply.
Before you act take heed, and think
It’s better not to look, just wink.
For further proof that this is so
The poet Ovid, apropos
Of this, another story tells
Which every shred of doubt dispels.
|In Metamor it telleth thus,
How that a lord which Phorceus
Was hote, hadde dowhtres thre.
Bot upon here nativite
Such was the constellacion,
That out of mannes nacion
Fro kynde thei be so miswent,
That to the liknesse of Serpent
Thei were bore, and so that on
Of hem was cleped Stellibon,
That other soster Suriale,
The thridde, as telleth in the tale,
Medusa hihte, and natheles
Of comun name Gorgones
In every contre ther aboute,
As Monstres whiche that men doute,
Men clepen hem; and bot on yhe
Among hem thre in pourpartie
Thei hadde, of which thei myhte se,
Now hath it this, now hath it sche;
After that cause and nede it ladde,
Be throwes ech of hem it hadde.
A wonder thing yet more amis
Ther was, wherof I telle al this:
What man on hem his chiere caste
And hem behield, he was als faste
Out of a man into a Ston
Forschape, and thus ful manyon
Deceived were, of that thei wolde
Misloke, wher that thei ne scholde.
Bot Perse.s that worthi knyht,
Whom Pallas of hir grete myht
Halp, and tok him a Schield therto,
And ek the god Mercurie also
Lente him a swerd, he, as it fell,
Beyende Athlans the hihe hell
These Monstres soghte, and there he fond
Diverse men of thilke lond
Thurgh sihte of hem mistorned were,
Stondende as Stones hiere and there.
Bot he, which wisdom and prouesse
Hadde of the god and the godesse,
The Schield of Pallas gan enbrace,
With which he covereth sauf his face,
Mercuries Swerd and out he drowh,
And so he bar him that he slowh
These dredful Monstres alle thre.
Lo now, my Sone, avise the,
That thou thi sihte noght misuse:
Cast noght thin yhe upon Meduse,
That thou be torned into Ston:
For so wys man was nevere non,
Bot if he wel his yhe kepe
And take of fol delit no kepe,
That he with lust nys ofte nome,
Thurgh strengthe of love and overcome.
Of mislokynge how it hath ferd,
As I have told, now hast thou herd,
My goode Sone, and tak good hiede.
Metamorposes we see
A certain lord had daughters three.
His name was Phorceus, and at
Their birth the constellations that
Were in the sky were so aligned,
That they so far from human kind
Did deviate in form and frame,
From serpents it appeared they came,
Since at this sight he was appalled
The first Euryale was called,
And Stheno was another’s name,
Medusa was the third; their fame
To places round about had grown
And commonly as Gorgons known
They were, in countries far and near,
Where monsters that all men should fear
Men styled them; But a single eye
Among them did they have whereby
All three of them might see: now one
Would have it, and when she was done,
Then to the one with greatest need
By turns to share they would proceed.
But there was something that was more
Miraculously dreadful, for
Whatever man at them did stare
Of whose glance they became aware
Was turned into a stone right there;
And thus destroyed were many men
For looking on these women when
They should have looked the other way.
But Perseus in search of prey,
Whom Pallas with her powers great
Assisted with a shield ornate,
And Mercury, the god of speed
Did lend a sword that he would need,
Beyond Mount Atlas ventured far,
To seek these monsters three, bizarre;
He found there men of every kind
Who’d looked on them and were consigned
To stand as stones forever still.
But he, who wisdom had and skill,
Derived from goddesses and gods,
Took up his shield, against all odds,
To render safe his face, and drew
The sword of Mercury, and due
To his own valor he did slay
These dreadful monsters all that day.
Lo now, my son I thee advise
That you do not misuse your eyes:
Don’t stop and at Medusa stare,
And into stone be turned: beware
For no man ever can be wise,
Unless he well controls his eyes
And wanton pleasures does despise
That he be lured not by desire,
And overcome with passion’s fire.
The mischief looking wrong does cause,
I hope to you has given pause
My son, to think and watch your eyes.
|And overthis yet I thee rede
That thou be war of thin heringe,
Which to the Herte the tidinge
Of many a vanite hath broght,
To tarie with a mannes thoght.
And natheles good is to hiere
Such thing wherof a man may lere
That to vertu is acordant,
And toward al the remenant
Good is to torne his Ere fro;
For elles, bot a man do so,
Him may fulofte mysbefalle.
I rede ensample amonges alle,
Wherof to kepe wel an Ere
It oghte pute a man in fere.
But further now I must advise
That of your hearing you beware
Which to the heart does often bear
A tiding of illusive love
For man to be enamored of.
And still it’s good for one to hear
Such useful lessons as may steer
A man to walk in virtue’s way,
But to the rest no heed to pay
And rather turn away one’s ear;
Elsewise, if one does not adhere
To this advice, one well may fall.
Examples many I recall,
That should the fear of God instill
E’er to give ear to lustful ill.
|A Serpent, which that Aspidis
Is cleped, of his kynde hath this,
That he the Ston noblest of alle,
The which that men Carbuncle calle,
Berth in his hed above on heihte.
For which whan that a man be sleyhte,
The Ston to winne and him to daunte,
With his carecte him wolde enchaunte,
Anon as he perceiveth that,
He leith doun his on Ere al plat
Unto the ground, and halt it faste,
And ek that other Ere als faste
He stoppeth with his tail so sore,
That he the wordes lasse or more
Of his enchantement ne hiereth;
And in this wise himself he skiereth,
So that he hath the wordes weyved
And thurgh his Ere is noght deceived.
serpent, Aspidis by name,
Did this unique distinction claim,
That he possessed a noble stone ,
That as a cabachon was known,
Stuck in head upon its crest.
And when men would attempt to wrest
The stone, they try him to disarm
As they enchant him with a charm;
But then, when he perceives this sound,
One ear he plants upon the ground
And partly thus their plan subverts,
Then in his other ear inserts
His tail with pressure so severe,
That he no single word can hear
By which men ventured him to charm;
And in this way he kept from harm,
So that their words he did elude
And through his ear was not subdued.
|An othre thing, who that recordeth,
Lich unto this ensample acordeth,
Which in the tale of Troie I finde.
Sirenes of a wonder kynde
Ben Monstres, as the bokes tellen,
And in the grete Se thei duellen:
Of body bothe and of visage
Lik unto wommen of yong age
Up fro the Navele on hih thei be,
And doun benethe, as men mai se,
Thei bere of fisshes the figure.
And overthis of such nature
Thei ben, that with so swete a stevene
Lik to the melodie of hevene
In wommanysshe vois thei singe,
With notes of so gret likinge,
Of such mesure, of such musike,
Wherof the Schipes thei beswike
That passen be the costes there.
For whan the Schipmen leie an Ere
Unto the vois, in here avys
Thei wene it be a Paradys,
Which after is to hem an helle.
For reson may noght with hem duelle,
Whan thei tho grete lustes hiere;
Thei conne noght here Schipes stiere,
So besiliche upon the note
Thei herkne, and in such wise assote,
That thei here rihte cours and weie
Foryete, and to here Ere obeie,
And seilen til it so befalle
That thei into the peril falle,
Where as the Schipes be todrawe,
And thei ben with the Monstres slawe.
Bot fro this peril natheles
With his wisdom king Uluxes
Ascapeth and it overpasseth;
For he tofor the hond compasseth
That noman of his compaignie
Hath pouer unto that folie
His Ere for no lust to caste;
For he hem stoppede alle faste,
That non of hem mai hiere hem singe.
So whan they comen forth seilinge,
Ther was such governance on honde,
That thei the Monstres have withstonde
And slain of hem a gret partie.
Thus was he sauf with his navie,
This wise king, thurgh governance.
story comes to mind,
Whose theme is of the selfsame kind,
Which I find in the tale of Troy.
The Sirens, waiting to destroy
Were monsters, as the books relate,
Who lived beneath the ocean great:
Their bodies and their faces seemed
Like women fair by men esteemed
Up from their diaphragms to be,
But down from there, as men may see,
A fishes form with fins they had.
But that’s not all, there’s more to add,
For with a voice so pure and sweet
With melodies divine replete
In voices womanly they sing,
With notes that like an angel’s ring,
And with harmonic parts profuse,
With which the ships they did seduce
That passed the coasts where they were found.
For when the sailors that sweet sound
Approach, which did their hearts entice,
They thought they were in paradise,
Which afterwards would be a hell.
To reason they will bid farewell,
When they those great enchantments hear;
Their ships they can no longer steer,
They with the music are bemused
So much that they become confused;
Concern for their right course is lost,
And by their ears they’re drawn, and tossed
Upon the ocean at great cost,
For soon they come upon a reef,
Their ship is smashed and comes to grief,
And by the monsters they are slain.
But this great peril with its pain
Did king Ulysses who was wise
Possess the foresight to devise
A plan this danger to evade:
That in his crew no man be made
To fall into the sirens trance
Should he their music hear by chance,
He plugged up tight each sailor’s ear
So that the singing none could hear.
Thus when upon the sea they sailed,
A perfect discipline prevailed,
So that the monsters they withstood
And slew as many as they could.
Thus was this navy saved from harm
By its commander’s steady arm.
|Wherof, my Sone, in remembrance
Thou myht ensample taken hiere,
As I have told, and what thou hiere
Be wel war, and yif no credence,
Bot if thou se more evidence.
For if thou woldest take kepe
And wisly cowthest warde and kepe
Thin yhe and Ere, as I have spoke,
Than haddest thou the gates stoke
Fro such Sotie as comth to winne
Thin hertes wit, which is withinne,
Wherof that now thi love excedeth
Mesure, and many a peine bredeth.
Bot if thou cowthest sette in reule
Tho tuo, the thre were eth to reule:
Forthi as of thi wittes five
I wole as now nomore schryve,
Bot only of these ilke tuo.
Tell me therfore if it be so,
Hast thou thin yhen oght misthrowe?
Mi fader, ye, I am beknowe,
I have hem cast upon Meduse,
Therof I may me noght excuse:
Min herte is growen into Ston,
So that my lady therupon
Hath such a priente of love grave,
That I can noght miselve save.
What seist thou, Sone, as of thin Ere?
Mi fader, I am gultyf there;
For whanne I may my lady hiere,
Mi wit with that hath lost his Stiere:
I do noght as Uluxes dede,
Bot falle anon upon the stede,
Wher as I se my lady stonde;
And there, I do yow understonde,
I am topulled in my thoght,
So that of reson leveth noght,
Wherof that I me mai defende.
My goode Sone, god thamende:
For as me thenketh be thi speche
Thi wittes ben riht feer to seche.
As of thin Ere and of thin yhe
I woll nomore specefie,
Bot I woll axen overthis
Of othre thing how that it is.
Hold this, my son, for memory’s sake
That you might an example take
From what I’ve told, that you have heard,
And don’t discount it as absurd,
Unless you otherwise can show.
For if you would take heed, and know
How wisely to protect thine ear
And eye, as I have made it clear,
Then seal these gateways to the soul
From foolishness that would control
Your heart, and your good sense mislead,
To make your love its bounds exceed,
And thereby many a sorrow breed.
But if these two you watch and guard,
The other three will not be hard:
So now for your confession I
Shall pass the other senses by,
And only dwell upon these two.
So tell me, through your eyes have you
E'er been provoked sin to commit?
My father, I my guilt admit,
Medusa I have seen, and I
Am thus without excuse: for my
Unhappy heart has turned to stone,
So that the lady I bemoan
Has on it such a mark engraved,
I fear that I cannot be saved.”
What say you, son, about your ear?
I’m guilty, father, there I fear;
For at my lady's voice refined,
I can no longer steer my mind:
Ulysses course I follow not,
But fall at once upon the spot,
As soon as I my lady see;
Far from me does my reason flee,
My wits away from me recede,
Gone is the good sense I would need,
With which myself I might defend.
God help you, my good son! I tend
To think from hearing what you’ve said
That far away your wits have fled.
For now, as to your ear and eye
I think it best to let it lie,
But I to other things will turn
And how you stand with them will learn.
|Mi Sone, as I thee schal enforme,
Ther ben yet of an other forme
Of dedly vices sevene applied,
Wherof the herte is ofte plied
To thing which after schal him grieve.
The ferste of hem thou schalt believe
Is Pride, which is principal,
And hath with him in special
Ministres five ful diverse,
Of whiche, as I the schal reherse,
The ferste is seid Ypocrisie.
If thou art of his compaignie,
Tell forth, my Sone, and schrif the clene.
I wot noght, fader, what ye mene:
Bot this I wolde you beseche,
That ye me be som weie teche
What is to ben an ypocrite;
And thanne if I be forto wyte,
I wol beknowen, as it is.
Mi Sone, an ypocrite is this,-
A man which feigneth conscience,
As thogh it were al innocence,
Withoute, and is noght so withinne;
And doth so for he wolde winne
Of his desir the vein astat.
And whanne he comth anon therat,
He scheweth thanne what he was,
The corn is torned into gras,
That was a Rose is thanne a thorn,
And he that was a Lomb beforn
Is thanne a Wolf, and thus malice
Under the colour of justice
Is hid; and as the poeple telleth,
These ordres witen where he duelleth,
As he that of here conseil is,
And thilke world which thei er this
Forsoken, he drawth in ayein:
He clotheth richesse, as men sein,
Under the simplesce of poverte,
And doth to seme of gret decerte
Thing which is litel worth withinne:
He seith in open, fy! to Sinne,
And in secre ther is no vice
Of which that he nis a Norrice:
And evere his chiere is sobre and softe,
And where he goth he blesseth ofte,
Wherof the blinde world he dreccheth.
Bot yet al only he ne streccheth
His reule upon religioun,
Bot next to that condicioun
In suche as clepe hem holy cherche
It scheweth ek how he can werche
Among tho wyde furred hodes,
To geten hem the worldes goodes.
And thei hemself ben thilke same
That setten most the world in blame,
Bot yet in contraire of her lore
Ther is nothing thei loven more;
So that semende of liht thei werke
The dedes whiche are inward derke.
And thus this double Ypocrisie
With his devolte apparantie
A viser set upon his face,
Wherof toward this worldes grace
He semeth to be riht wel thewed,
And yit his herte is al beschrewed.
Bot natheles he stant believed,
And hath his pourpos ofte achieved
Of worschipe and of worldes welthe,
And takth it, as who seith, be stelthe
Thurgh coverture of his fallas.
And riht so in semblable cas
This vice hath ek his officers
Among these othre seculers
Of grete men, for of the smale
As for tacompte he set no tale,
Bot thei that passen the comune
With suche him liketh to comune,
And where he seith he wol socoure
The poeple, there he woll devoure;
For now aday is manyon
Which spekth of Peter and of John
And thenketh Judas in his herte.
Ther schal no worldes good asterte
His hond, and yit he yifth almesse
And fasteth ofte and hiereth Messe:
With mea culpa, which he seith,
Upon his brest fullofte he leith
His hond, and cast upward his yhe,
As thogh he Cristes face syhe;
So that it seemeth ate syhte,
As he al one alle othre myhte
Rescoue with his holy bede.
Bot yet his herte in other stede
Among hise bedes most devoute
Goth in the worldes cause aboute,
How that he myhte his warisoun
Encresce. And in comparisoun
Ther ben lovers of such a sort,
That feignen hem an humble port,
And al is bot Ypocrisie,
Which with deceipte and flaterie
Hath many a worthi wif beguiled.
For whanne he hath his tunge affiled,
With softe speche and with lesinge,
Forth with his fals pitous lokynge,
He wolde make a womman wene
To gon upon the faire grene,
Whan that sche falleth in the Mir.
For if he may have his desir,
How so falle of the remenant,
He halt no word of covenant;
Bot er the time that he spede,
Ther is no sleihte at thilke nede,
Which eny loves faitour mai,
That he ne put it in assai,
As him belongeth forto done.
The colour of the reyni Mone
With medicine upon his face
He set, and thanne he axeth grace,
As he which hath sieknesse feigned.
Whan his visage is so desteigned,
With yhe upcast on hire he siketh,
And many a contenance he piketh,
To bringen hire in to believe
Of thing which that he wolde achieve,
Wherof he berth the pale hewe;
And for he wolde seme trewe,
He makth him siek, whan he is heil.
Bot whanne he berth lowest the Seil,
Thanne is he swiftest to beguile
The womman, which that ilke while
Set upon him feith or credence.
Mi Sone, if thou thi conscience
Entamed hast in such a wise,
In schrifte thou thee myht avise
And telle it me, if it be so.
Min holy fader, certes no.
As forto feigne such sieknesse
It nedeth noght, for this witnesse
I take of god, that my corage
Hath ben mor siek than my visage.
And ek this mai I wel avowe,
So lowe cowthe I nevere bowe
To feigne humilite withoute,
That me ne leste betre loute
With alle the thoghtes of myn herte;
For that thing schal me nevere asterte,
I speke as to my lady diere,
To make hire eny feigned chiere.
God wot wel there I lye noght,
Mi chiere hath be such as my thoght;
For in good feith, this lieveth wel,
Mi will was betre a thousendel
Than eny chiere that I cowthe.
Bot, Sire, if I have in my yowthe
Don other wise in other place,
I put me therof in your grace:
For this excusen I ne schal,
That I have elles overal
To love and to his compaignie
Be plein withoute Ypocrisie;
Bot ther is on the which I serve,
Althogh I may no thonk deserve,
To whom yet nevere into this day
I seide onlyche or ye or nay,
Bot if it so were in my thoght.
As touchende othre seie I noght
That I nam somdel forto wyte
Of that ye clepe an ypocrite.
Mi Sone, it sit wel every wiht
To kepe his word in trowthe upryht
Towardes love in alle wise.
For who that wolde him wel avise
What hath befalle in this matiere,
He scholde noght with feigned chiere
Deceive Love in no degre.
To love is every herte fre,
Bot in deceipte if that thou feignest
And therupon thi lust atteignest,
That thow hast wonne with thi wyle,
Thogh it thee like for a whyle,
Thou schalt it afterward repente.
And forto prove myn entente,
I finde ensample in a Croniqe
Of hem that love so beswike.
My son, I now would have you know
That into seven classes go
The deadly vices which descend
Upon the heart and make it tend
To things which lead to pain and grief
The first, which of the rest is chief,
Is Pride, the worst of all by far,
And with him special servants are,
In number five, all quite diverse
Of which, as I shall now rehearse,
The first is called Hypocrisy,
If you are in his company
My son, a full confession make.
Your meaning, father, is opaque:
But this I would of you beseech,
That in some way you may me teach
The meaning of Hypocrisy;
And then if it applies to me,
I will acknowledge that it’s so.
My son, a hypocrite you’ll know
If conscience insincere he’d show,
And outward innocence affects,
That nothing of his soul reflects;
And does this so that he might gain
Some office, rank, or title vain.
And when his object he achieves,
Then his true colors one perceives.
Now there is grass where once was corn,
What was a rose is now a thorn.
And he that was before a lamb
Is now a wolf; it is a sham
Where malice is as justice robed;
Those tell, who into this have probed,
That where he dwells those orders know,
Where he is found; what they forgo
Of worldly comforts and delights,
In villainously he invites:
He makes rich garments seem to be
The spartan clothes of poverty,
And does, the world’s regard to gain,
Things that no excellence contain:
Vice does he openly disdain,
While secretly there is no sin
That he will fail to nurse within:
His manner’s moderate and smooth,
He blesses everyone to soothe,
Who thereby blinded he beguiles.
But he does not restrict his wiles
To holy orders only, he
Those dressed in holy garbs who call
Themselves the church, he can enthrall,
And those with wide furred hoods persuade
By worldly splendor to be swayed.
And they who of these vices choose
To blame the world, whom they accuse,
The guidance that they give ignore
For there is nothing they love more;
So in the light, it seems, they work
Their deeds that in the darkness lurk.
Thus this Hypocrisy, two-faced:
With godly airs it seems he’s graced,
A mask is placed upon him so
That to all he presents a show;
So good is his deceptive art,
That few perceive his heinous heart.
And so by most he is believed,
And has his purpose oft achieved
Of worship mixed with worldly wealth
Which he acquires by guile and stealth
As he conceals his falsity.
And in like manner we can see
This vice his officers recruits
Among those dressed in worldly suits
From men with reputations high
For lowly men he passes by;
It’s those who rise above the crowd
Who best can make this master proud,
And where he promises to aid
The people, they will be betrayed;
Dissemblers like this rattle on
Speaking of Peter and of John
But loyalty to Judas owe.
No worldly goods can they forgo,
Yet from the wealth that they’ve amassed
Give alms and hear the Mass and fast:
Their mea culpas rising up
One hears as on their breasts they cup
Their hands, and look up to the sky
As though they see Christ’s face on high;
So on the surface it would seem,
That these might one and all redeem
With such great power do they pray.
But elsewhere are their hearts when they
Are heard to offer up their prayers;
Then only worldly thoughts are theirs,
How they might increase their estates.
This in the realm of love equates
To some, like those I’ve spoken of,
Who feign humility and love,
But it is all hypocrisy,
Which with deceit and flattery
Has many a worthy wife beguiled.
With polished speech and voice that’s mild,
He with a tongue that truth disdains,
A falsely piteous visage feigns,
And thus would make a girl suppose
That on a fair green field she goes
And then down in the mire she sinks.
If he may have his wish he thinks
Not of potential peccant pain,
From no affiance he’ll refrain;
But prior to when he succeeds,
There is no scheme that for his needs,
Which those who beg for love may choose,
That he‘ll not hesitate to use,
If it will tend to make her swoon.
The color of the pallid moon
With make-up he upon his face
Will put, and then will ask her grace,
This cad who ill pretends to be.
With visage all discolored he
Looks up at her with wistful eyes,
And with a pleading posture sighs,
To try and cause her to believe
Things that would help him to achieve
His goal, that’s why the pallid hue;
That his troth plighting might ring true,
He sickness feigns, when he is hale.
For when he trims down low his sail,
Then is he swiftest to beguile
The woman, who is all the while
Reposing in him faith and trust.”
“My son, if you’ve been led by lust
Thy conscience to contaminate
This way, in your confession state
Unto me now if it be so.
My holy father, truly no.
I’ve no need to such sickness feign,
God be my witness, there’s more pain
Within my heart’s most secret place
Than shows without upon my face.
And this too may I well avow,
So low could I not ever bow
Because of feigned humility,
As I to bow would tempted be
From solemn thoughts that in me stir;
It never would to me occur,
Unto my lady dear to speak
In words pretentious and oblique.
God knows well here I have no blot,
My countenance reflects my thought;
For in good faith, my heart’s true need
A thousand times more did exceed
That which my visage did display.
But if I've acted in a way
In my youth, seeming out of place,
I must rely upon your grace:
I shall such conduct not deny,
But only would point out that I
In love have not been insincere
With hypocritical veneer.
There’s just one to whom I’ve been true,
Though she thinks no reward is due,
Yet I have never to this day
Said anything but yea or nay,
My true thoughts dictate what I say.
Of other sins I do not claim
That I am not somewhat to blame
Depending on just what you call
Hypocrisy. My son, men all
Are well advised in every way
To be upright in love, or pay.
Whoever realizes well
What in this thing some men befell,
Should not with visage pale and grey
Deceive in love in any way.
To choose in love each heart is free,
But if you feign to some degree
And thus your lust attain, you’ll see
The thing that you have won by guile,
Though you might like it for a while,
You’ll find was all a big mistake.
A book may help my point to make,
This tale does an example give:
One who in love a lie did live.
|It fell be olde daies thus,
Whil themperour Tiberius
The Monarchie of Rome ladde,
Ther was a worthi Romein hadde
A wif, and sche Pauline hihte,
Which was to every mannes sihte
Of al the Cite the faireste,
And as men seiden, ek the beste.
It is and hath ben evere yit,
That so strong is no mannes wit,
Which thurgh beaute ne mai be drawe
To love, and stonde under the lawe
Of thilke bore frele kinde,
Which makth the hertes yhen blinde,
Wher no reson mai be comuned:
And in this wise stod fortuned
This tale, of which I wolde mene;
This wif, which in hire lustes grene
Was fair and freissh and tendre of age,
Sche may noght lette the corage
Of him that wole on hire assote.
Ther was a Duck, and he was hote
Mundus, which hadde in his baillie
To lede the chivalerie
Of Rome, and was a worthi knyht;
Bot yet he was noght of such myht
The strengthe of love to withstonde,
That he ne was so broght to honde,
That malgre wher he wole or no,
This yonge wif he loveth so,
That he hath put al his assay
To wynne thing which he ne may
Gete of hire graunt in no manere,
Be yifte of gold ne be preiere.
And whanne he syh that be no mede
Toward hir love he myhte spede,
Be sleyhte feigned thanne he wroghte;
And therupon he him bethoghte
How that ther was in the Cite
A temple of such auctorite,
To which with gret Devocioun
The noble wommen of the toun
Most comunliche a pelrinage
Gon forto preie thilke ymage
Which the godesse of childinge is,
And cleped was be name Ysis:
And in hire temple thanne were,
To reule and to ministre there
After the lawe which was tho,
Above alle othre Prestes tuo.
This Duck, which thoghte his love gete,
Upon a day hem tuo to mete
Hath bede, and thei come at his heste;
Wher that thei hadde a riche feste,
And after mete in prive place
This lord, which wolde his thonk pourchace,
To ech of hem yaf thanne a yifte,
And spak so that be weie of schrifte
He drowh hem unto his covine,
To helpe and schape how he Pauline
After his lust deceive myhte.
And thei here trowthes bothe plyhte,
That thei be nyhte hire scholden wynne
Into the temple, and he therinne
Schal have of hire al his entente:
And thus acorded forth thei wente.
Now lest thurgh which ypocrisie
Ordeigned was the tricherie,
Wherof this ladi was deceived.
These Prestes hadden wel conceived
That sche was of gret holinesse;
And with a contrefet simplesse,
Which hid was in a fals corage,
Feignende an hevenely message
Thei come and seide unto hir thus:
"Pauline, the god Anubus
Hath sent ous bothe Prestes hiere,
And seith he woll to thee appiere
Be nyhtes time himself alone,
For love he hath to thi persone:
And therupon he hath ous bede,
That we in Ysis temple a stede
Honestely for thee pourveie,
Wher thou be nyhte, as we thee seie,
Of him schalt take avisioun.
For upon thi condicioun,
The which is chaste and ful of feith,
Such pris, as he ous tolde, he leith,
That he wol stonde of thin acord;
And forto bere hierof record
He sende ous hider bothe tuo."
Glad was hire innocence tho
Of suche wordes as sche herde,
With humble chiere and thus answerde,
And seide that the goddes wille
Sche was al redy to fulfille,
That be hire housebondes leve
Sche wolde in Ysis temple at eve
Upon hire goddes grace abide,
To serven him the nyhtes tide.
The Prestes tho gon hom ayein,
And sche goth to hire sovereign,
Of goddes wille and as it was
Sche tolde him al the pleine cas,
Wherof he was deceived eke,
And bad that sche hire scholde meke
Al hol unto the goddes heste.
And thus sche, which was al honeste
To godward after hire entente,
At nyht unto the temple wente,
Wher that the false Prestes were;
And thei receiven hire there
With such a tokne of holinesse,
As thogh thei syhen a godesse,
And al withinne in prive place
A softe bedd of large space
Thei hadde mad and encourtined,
Wher sche was afterward engined.
Bot sche, which al honour supposeth,
The false Prestes thanne opposeth,
And axeth be what observance
Sche myhte most to the plesance
Of godd that nyhtes reule kepe:
And thei hire bidden forto slepe
Liggende upon the bedd alofte,
For so, thei seide, al stille and softe
God Anubus hire wolde awake.
The conseil in this wise take,
The Prestes fro this lady gon;
And sche, that wiste of guile non,
In the manere as it was seid
To slepe upon the bedd is leid,
In hope that sche scholde achieve
Thing which stod thanne upon bilieve,
Fulfild of alle holinesse.
Bot sche hath failed, as I gesse,
For in a closet faste by
The Duck was hid so prively
That sche him myhte noght perceive;
And he, that thoghte to deceive,
Hath such arrai upon him nome,
That whanne he wolde unto hir come,
It scholde semen at hire yhe
As thogh sche verrailiche syhe
God Anubus, and in such wise
This ypocrite of his queintise
Awaiteth evere til sche slepte.
And thanne out of his place he crepte
So stille that sche nothing herde,
And to the bedd stalkende he ferde,
And sodeinly, er sche it wiste,
Beclipt in armes he hire kiste:
Wherof in wommanysshe drede
Sche wok and nyste what to rede;
Bot he with softe wordes milde
Conforteth hire and seith, with childe
He wolde hire make in such a kynde
That al the world schal have in mynde
The worschipe of that ilke Sone;
For he schal with the goddes wone,
And ben himself a godd also.
With suche wordes and with mo,
The whiche he feigneth in his speche,
This lady wit was al to seche,
As sche which alle trowthe weneth:
Bot he, that alle untrowthe meneth,
With blinde tales so hire ladde,
That all his wille of hire he hadde.
And whan him thoghte it was ynowh,
Ayein the day he him withdrowh
So prively that sche ne wiste
Wher he becom, bot as him liste
Out of the temple he goth his weie.
And sche began to bidde and preie
Upon the bare ground knelende,
And after that made hire offrende,
And to the Prestes yiftes grete
Sche yaf, and homward be the Strete.
The Duck hire mette and seide thus:
"The myhti godd which Anubus
Is hote, he save the, Pauline,
For thou art of his discipline
So holy, that no mannes myht
Mai do that he hath do to nyht
Of thing which thou hast evere eschuied.
Bot I his grace have so poursuied,
That I was mad his lieutenant:
Forthi be weie of covenant
Fro this day forth I am al thin,
And if thee like to be myn,
That stant upon thin oghne wille."
Sche herde his tale and bar it stille,
And hom sche wente, as it befell,
Into hir chambre, and ther sche fell
Upon hire bedd to wepe and crie,
And seide: "O derke ypocrisie,
Thurgh whos dissimilacion
Of fals ymaginacion
I am thus wickedly deceived!
Bot that I have it aperceived
I thonke unto the goddes alle;
For thogh it ones be befalle,
It schal nevere eft whil that I live,
And thilke avou to godd I yive."
And thus wepende sche compleigneth,
Hire faire face and al desteigneth
With wofull teres of hire ije,
So that upon this agonie
Hire housebonde is inne come,
And syh how sche was overcome
With sorwe, and axeth what hire eileth.
And sche with that hirself beweileth
Welmore than sche dede afore,
And seide, "Helas, wifhode is lore
In me, which whilom was honeste,
I am non other than a beste,
Now I defouled am of tuo."
And as sche myhte speke tho,
Aschamed with a pitous onde
Sche tolde unto hir housebonde
The sothe of al the hole tale,
And in hire speche ded and pale
Sche swouneth welnyh to the laste.
And he hire in hise armes faste
Uphield, and ofte swor his oth
That he with hire is nothing wroth,
For wel he wot sche may ther noght:
Bot natheles withinne his thoght
His herte stod in sori plit,
And seide he wolde of that despit
Be venged, how so evere it falle,
And sende unto hise frendes alle.
And whan thei weren come in fere,
He tolde hem upon this matiere,
And axeth hem what was to done:
And thei avised were sone,
And seide it thoghte hem for the beste
To sette ferst his wif in reste,
And after pleigne to the king
Upon the matiere of this thing.
Tho was this wofull wif conforted
Be alle weies and desported,
Til that sche was somdiel amended;
And thus a day or tuo despended,
The thridde day sche goth to pleigne
With many a worthi Citezeine,
And he with many a Citezein.
Whan themperour it herde sein,
And knew the falshed of the vice,
He seide he wolde do justice:
And ferst he let the Prestes take,
And for thei scholde it noght forsake,
He put hem into questioun;
Bot thei of the suggestioun
Ne couthen noght a word refuse,
Bot for thei wolde hemself excuse,
The blame upon the Duck thei leide.
Bot therayein the conseil seide
That thei be noght excused so,
For he is on and thei ben tuo,
And tuo han more wit then on,
So thilke excusement was non.
And over that was seid hem eke,
That whan men wolden vertu seke,
Men scholde it in the Prestes finde;
Here ordre is of so hyh a kinde,
That thei be Duistres of the weie:
Forthi, if eny man forsueie
Thurgh hem, thei be noght excusable.
And thus be lawe resonable
Among the wise jugges there
The Prestes bothe dampned were,
So that the prive tricherie
Hid under fals Ipocrisie
Was thanne al openliche schewed,
That many a man hem hath beschrewed.
And whan the Prestes weren dede,
The temple of thilke horrible dede
Thei thoghten purge, and thilke ymage,
Whos cause was the pelrinage,
Thei drowen out and als so faste
Fer into Tibre thei it caste,
Wher the Rivere it hath defied:
And thus the temple purified
Thei have of thilke horrible Sinne,
Which was that time do therinne.
Of this point such was the juise,
Bot of the Duck was other wise:
For he with love was bestad,
His dom was noght so harde lad;
For Love put reson aweie
And can noght se the rihte weie.
And be this cause he was respited,
So that the deth him was acquited,
Bot for al that he was exiled,
For he his love hath so beguiled,
That he schal nevere come ayein:
For who that is to trowthe unplein,
He may noght failen of vengance.
In olden days it happened thus,
While emperor Tiberius
In Rome as monarch did preside,
A worthy Roman had a bride,
Who by the name Pauline was known,
And to all men her fairness shone
Above all other women there,
Her virtue was without compare.
But it has ever been the case,
That no man’s reason can erase
The impulse to be drawn to love
By beauty, no one stands above
The inborn flaws of humankind,
Which makes the heart’s eyes to be blind,
Where reason has no say in love:
Such were the circumstances of
This story, of a love impure;
This wife, who with her youth’s allure
Was fair and fresh and with no stain,
May not the heart of him restrain
Who would of her enamored be.
There was a mighty duke, and he
Was Mundus called, who was the head
Of all Rome’s horsemen, whom he led,
A knight all held in high esteem;
But his might was not so extreme
As to the strength of love withstand;
His passions he could not command,
Despite what reason might advise
Would with this youthful wife be wise.
With all his energy he tries
To win that which from her he may
Not get in a consensual way,
By begging nor by bribery.
And when he saw that bribes would be
Quite useless her consent to gain,
In a more surreptitious vein
He did proceed; Within the town
A temple was of great renown,
Which got him thinking, for he knew
That all the noble women who
Devoted were, a trip would take;
A pilgrimage thereto they'd make
To pray unto the image there,
Goddess of those who children bear,
And Isis was her name: inside
Her temple’s walls there did abide
Two high priests who did there preside
By law, who stood in stature grand,
Above all others in the land.
This duke his love to gain, one day
Did of these two request that they
Would meet, and they were both inclined;
So when they all had richly dined,
They met in private, where this shrewd
False lord, who’d buy their gratitude,
Each gifts did give, and blowing smoke
By sounding penitent, he spoke
And drew them into his obscene
Conspiracy to cause Pauline
To be deceived his lust to gain.
They pledged that her they would constrain
And in the temple her detain
By night, so that it might occur
That he would have his way with her;
And thus agreed they went their ways.
Hypocrisy! Hear how it preys
With treachery upon the pure,
And does with guile this lady lure.
These priests knew very well that she
Had for the gods great loyalty;
And with pretended honesty,
Which was by their false heart disguised,
A heavenly message they devised
And said unto her thus: "Pauline,
The god Anubus we have seen,
Who’s told us of his great delight;
He said that he unto thy sight
Alone would fain appear by night,
For he has love toward your soul:
Thus he’s requested that our goal
Should be for you a place inside
Of Isis’ temple to provide,
Where you by night, as we’ve been told
A vision of him shall behold.
He does your disposition see,
Replete with faith and chastity,
And values this, for you and he
On all things virtuous agree;
This to bear record, on our oath
He hither has dispatched us both."
As this in innocence she heard
To happiness her heart was stirred;
Thus she replied, with humble mien
And said the god’s will for Pauline
She would most cheerfully obey,
And if her husband said she may,
She’d come in through the temple gate,
And on her god’s grace she would wait,
And serve him in the nighttime there.
The priests then to their homes repair,
And to her sovereign lord she goes;
God’s will to him she does disclose,
Which he could see that she believed,
Whereon he also was deceived,
‘Submit yourself,’ he did suggest
‘Entirely to the god’s behest.’
Thus she, with virtue unexcelled,
Whose heart toward god with reverence swelled,
At night into the temple went,
Where those two priests with false intent
Were waiting and received her there;
So pious were they, she could swear
They looked as though a god they’d seen.
And in a private room serene
A large soft bed they had with lace
Encurtained; it was in this place
Where she would be seduced that night.
But she, who trusts that all is right,
These priests interrogate, and they
Inquire how best she could obey
This god, and how she pleasure might
Bestow befitting of the night.
They said to her all low and soft,
"Lay down now in this little loft,
The god Anubus soon will keep
His tryst with you; now go to sleep."
As their instructions were complete,
They from this lady did retreat;
She does no treachery suspect,
But does as these two priests direct
And lays down on the bed, naive,
In hope that she would soon achieve
What she’d been given to believe;
In piety she did recline.
But she’d been duped, for by design,
A nearby closet did conceal
The duke, who shall himself reveal,
Though she for now cannot perceive
This man preparing to deceive,
Who is in such a costume dressed,
That his appearance would suggest,
As she upon him casts her gaze,
That what appears, her to amaze,
Is god Anubus; in this wise
This hypocrite, with cunning, lies
In wait until this lady sleeps.
Then from his hiding place he creeps,
Stalking until her bed he’s near,
So still that she did nothing hear,
And then, before she could resist,
Her in his arms he took and kissed:
At this with feminine affright
She woke and wondered at her plight;
But he with words all soft and mild
Did comfort her and said: ‘A child
With you I would conceive, one such
That all the world would marvel much
And garlands of their praise would give;
For he among the gods shall live,
And be himself a god as well.
With words like these he casts a spell
Upon Pauline with voice disguised,
Her judgment thus was compromised,
As she with trust believes his lies:
But he, who does the truth despise,
With tales deceitful her did sway,
That with her he might have his way.
And when with her he was all through,
At dawn he suddenly withdrew
So stealthily that she knew not
From whence he came. He’d not be caught,
So from the temple he did flee.
Pauline began to pray as she
Fell to the ground down on her knees,
Then made her offerings; to please
The gods she gave great gifts to these
Two priests, and homeward then she walks.
She meets the duke and thus he talks
To her: "The mighty god who’s called
Anubus, is with you enthralled,
For of his moral discipline
You are so holy, none may win
From you that which last night he did
A thing you for yourself forbid.
But toward him I such faith displayed,
That his lieutenant I was made:
And what this covenant secures
Is that from this day forth I’m yours
If you’d be mine, as he intends;
Well, that on your desire depends."
She listened but said not a word,
And horrified at what she’d heard,
Went home and in her chamber fell
Upon her bed where tears did well,
And said: "O dark hypocrisy,
Through whose deception wrought on me
Of false illusive fantasy
Thus wickedly am I ensnared!
But I’ve seen through it, thus I’m spared,
And thanks to all the gods I give;
For I’m resolved that while I live
I’ll never fall for such facades,
This solemn vow I give the gods."
Thus weeping sorely she complained,
So that her pretty face was stained
With woeful teardrops from her eyes,
And as she thus did agonize
Her husband entered, and aware
How she was overcome with care,
Did ask the reason for her grief.
This, far from giving her relief,
Did cause her even more to cry;
She said, "Alas, the virtue I
Once had has with my wifehood ceased,
I am no better than a beast,
For now I am defiled by two."
And as she spake in anguish grew
Ashamed, and heaved a piteous sigh;
She could not to her husband lie,
But all the story to him told.
By him she could not be consoled,
Collapsing as if nearly dead.
He caught her in his arms, and said,
Upon his solemn oath, he felt
No anger for the hand fate dealt,
Which she could have no choice about:
Though stalwart he appears without,
Inside his heart afflicted is;
He vows that vengeance will be his
In full, no matter what it takes.
This news unto his friends he breaks,
And when they gather one and all,
He tells them that which did befall
His wife; "What shall I do?” he pleads:
All do agree that to her needs
Before all else he should attend
And sympathy to her extend,
Then tell this matter to the king
Complaining to him of this thing.
And so in every way he could
He tried to make his wife feel good,
Somewhat her troubled mind to quell;
Two days upon this he did dwell;
She on the third day to lament
With many a worthy lady went,
And he with many a worthy lord.
The emperor, who vice deplored,
When of this perfidy he knew
Assured all he would justice do:
First were the priests before him brought
To see if they’d deny it not,
Both questioned were and in reply
The charges they could not deny,
As truthfully they testify.
But then a lame excuse they made
As on the duke the blame they laid.
The king’s advisors answered: "No,
They ought not be acquitted so,
For he is one and they are two,
And many have more wit than few,"
So that excuse was not allowed.
Beyond that, too, it was avowed
That when men would true virtue find,
In temples it should be enshrined;
Their order being so esteemed,
They righteous guides to truth are deemed:
So if, through them, men go astray
Can their guilt be excused? No way!
And thus by due and fitting laws
The judges found sufficient cause
That these two priests should be condemned;
And so the treachery that stemmed
From hidden false Hypocrisy
Was brought to light for all to see;
These priests did many taunt and chide,
Then they upon the scaffold died;
The temple of this awful deed,
They thought to purge, so they decreed
That image to which Pauline prayed
Should from the temple be conveyed,
And cast into the Tiber where
The river might dissolve it there:
And thus the temple of this sin,
Which was committed there within
It’s hallowed walls, they purged that day.
Thus justice in this manner they
Did do; the duke, though, they’d not slay:
For since he was with love beset
A doom less drastic he did get;
For reason is by love obscured
Thus was his errant course assured.
And for this cause was clemency
Accorded; death he would not see,
But rather he would be exiled;
And since his love he’d so beguiled,
He never shall come home again:
For if untrue in loving then,
For vengeance will the viceroy vote.
|And ek to take remembrance
Of that Ypocrisie hath wroght
On other half, men scholde noght
To lihtly lieve al that thei hiere,
Bot thanne scholde a wisman stiere
The Schip, whan suche wyndes blowe:
For ferst thogh thei beginne lowe,
At ende thei be noght menable,
Bot al tobreken Mast and Cable,
So that the Schip with sodein blast,
Whan men lest wene, is overcast;
As now fulofte a man mai se:
And of old time how it hath be
I finde a gret experience,
Wherof to take an evidence
Good is, and to be war also
Of the peril, er him be wo.
But let us not neglect to note
The flipside of Hypocrisy,
That men too quick should never be
To take as true all that they hear,
But let the ship a wise man steer
Whenever winds like this appear:
For though at first a little breeze,
They end up whipping up the seas,
The cables snap, down goes the mast,
And when men least expect, a blast
Does suddenly the ship capsize;
Too late the truth they realize.
How anciently it was I find
Instructive quite to bring to mind,
For thereby lucid light is shined
Upon the peril, that we might
Avoid disaster by that light.
|Of hem that ben so derk withinne,
At Troie also if we beginne,
Ipocrisie it hath betraied:
For whan the Greks hadde al assaied,
And founde that be no bataille
Ne be no Siege it myhte availe
The toun to winne thurgh prouesse,
This vice feigned of simplesce
Thurgh sleyhte of Calcas and of Crise
It wan be such a maner wise.
An Hors of Bras thei let do forge
Of such entaile, of such a forge,
That in this world was nevere man
That such an other werk began.
The crafti werkman Epius
It made, and forto telle thus,
The Greks, that thoghten to beguile
The kyng of Troie, in thilke while
With Anthenor and with Enee,
That were bothe of the Cite
And of the conseil the wiseste,
The richeste and the myhtieste,
In prive place so thei trete
With fair beheste and yiftes grete
Of gold, that thei hem have engined;
Togedre and whan thei be covined,
Thei feignen forto make a pes,
And under that yit natheles
Thei schopen the destruccioun
Bothe of the kyng and of the toun.
And thus the false pees was take
Of hem of Grece and undertake,
And therupon thei founde a weie,
Wher strengthe myhte noght aweie,
That sleihte scholde helpe thanne;
And of an ynche a large spanne
Be colour of the pees thei made,
And tolden how thei weren glade
Of that thei stoden in acord;
And for it schal ben of record,
Unto the kyng the Gregois seiden,
Be weie of love and this thei preiden,
As thei that wolde his thonk deserve,
A Sacrifice unto Minerve,
The pes to kepe in good entente,
Thei mosten offre er that thei wente.
The kyng conseiled in this cas
Be Anthenor and Eneas
Therto hath yoven his assent:
So was the pleine trowthe blent
Thurgh contrefet Ipocrisie
Of that thei scholden sacrifie.
The Greks under the holinesse
Anon with alle besinesse
Here Hors of Bras let faire dihte,
Which was to sen a wonder sihte;
For it was trapped of himselve,
And hadde of smale whieles twelve,
Upon the whiche men ynowe
With craft toward the toun it drowe,
And goth glistrende ayein the Sunne.
Tho was ther joie ynowh begunne,
For Troie in gret devocioun
Cam also with processioun
Ayein this noble Sacrifise
With gret honour, and in this wise
Unto the gates thei it broghte.
Bot of here entre whan thei soghte,
The gates weren al to smale;
And therupon was many a tale,
Bot for the worschipe of Minerve,
To whom thei comen forto serve,
Thei of the toun, whiche understode
That al this thing was do for goode,
For pes, wherof that thei ben glade,
The gates that Neptunus made
A thousend wynter ther tofore,
Thei have anon tobroke and tore;
The stronge walles doun thei bete,
So that in to the large strete
This Hors with gret solempnite
Was broght withinne the Cite,
And offred with gret reverence,
Which was to Troie an evidence
Of love and pes for everemo.
The Gregois token leve tho
With al the hole felaschipe,
And forth thei wenten into Schipe
And crossen seil and made hem yare,
Anon as thogh thei wolden fare:
Bot whan the blake wynter nyht
Withoute Mone or Sterre lyht
Bederked hath the water Stronde,
Al prively thei gon to londe
Ful armed out of the navie.
Synon, which mad was here aspie
Withinne Troie, as was conspired,
Whan time was a tokne hath fired;
And thei with that here weie holden,
And comen in riht as thei wolden,
Ther as the gate was tobroke.
The pourpos was full take and spoke:
Er eny man may take kepe,
Whil that the Cite was aslepe,
Thei slowen al that was withinne,
And token what thei myhten wynne
Of such good as was sufficant,
And brenden up the remenant.
And thus cam out the tricherie,
Which under fals Ypocrisie
Was hid, and thei that wende pees
Tho myhten finde no reles
Of thilke swerd which al devoureth.
Of those whose minds are blinded thus,
I would the plight of Troy discuss:
Upon Hypocrisy relied
The Greeks who all things else had tried;
They, finding by no battle nor
By any stratagem of war
Could they the city conquer, made
This simple hollow masquerade
Which Crise and Calcas did devise,
And thus they finally won the prize:
They forged a horse’s image clad
In brass, that such adornment had,
There never was a man alive
Who such a likeness could contrive.
Epeius was the craftsman fine
Who crafted it to their design;
The Greeks, whose plan was by deceit
To trap the king of Troy, did meet
Aeneas and Antenor, two
Who of the city were, and who
Of all the council were most wise,
And rich and powerful. These spies
In private did negotiate;
With gold and promises they bait
Their victims, whom they thus mislead;
And when together they’d agreed,
Of making peace they falsely spoke,
By which means cleverly they cloak
Their true intention to destroy
Both king and town with their decoy.
Thus Troy did this deceptive peace
Agree upon with them of Greece.
And by this means they found a way,
Since power might not win the day,
Deception could avail them more;
And with their foot thus in the door
More hay did they attempt to make;
How glad they were that Troy did take
Their offer, did the Greeks maintain;
And as the record does contain,
They did unto the king profess
Their love and said, this pact to bless,
That they a sacrifice would make
Unto Minerva for the sake
Of showing him their good intent
To keep the peace, before they went.
The king was by Antenor and
Aeneas counseled; his command
Was that the Greeks should welcomed be:
Thus what should have been plain to see,
Through counterfeit Hypocrisy
Was by this “sacrifice” concealed
The Greeks to holiness appealed;
With all the energy they had
Their horse of brass they finely clad,
A wondrous sight to look upon;
Trap doors it had, and it was drawn
Upon twelve little wheels by brawn
Supplied by many strong recruits
Who drew it while the town salutes
Their coming in the glistening sun.
The Trojans would not be outdone,
And so with fervent joy aflame
They also in procession came
This noble sacrifice to claim;
In honor and in glory great
They brought it to the city gate.
But when they tried to enter in,
Too small it was, to their chagrin;
Much talk there was of how they might
Minerva’s worship expedite,
For they had come to worship her
And to them it did not occur
That all might not be for the good,
Of peace, as they had understood;
And so the gate that long ago
Was made by Neptune, as we know,
They broke apart with hammer blows
And walls tore down which high once rose
So that this horse all did await
Could come with ceremony great
Inside the walls for all to see
There to be offered reverently,
A token unto Troy of peace
And friendship that would never cease.
The Greeks, who falsely did conspire,
With all their company retire,
And to their ships return, where they
Did set their sails as though their stay
At Troy was coming to and end:
But when the dark night did descend,
With neither moon nor stars in sight
To cast upon the land their light,
They came with stealth upon the shore
Outfitted fully for a war.
Then Synon, chosen as their spy
Within the city, lit the sky,
A signal for these troops whereby
They might the city walls locate,
And thus be guided to the gate,
Where they could come in unconcerned.
Full circle thus Fate’s wheel had turned:
Ere any man could sound alarms,
Or, since asleep, could take up arms,
They slew the people while they slept,
And through the town for booty swept,
Taking whatever they could use,
Burning the remnant to amuse.
The treachery was thus revealed,
Which false Hypocrisy concealed,
And all those who had peace presumed
Found no escape, but all were doomed
By treachery to be consumed.
|Fulofte and thus the swete soureth,
Whan it is knowe to the tast:
He spilleth many a word in wast
That schal with such a poeple trete;
For whan he weneth most beyete,
Thanne is he schape most to lese.
And riht so if a womman chese
Upon the wordes that sche hiereth
Som man, whan he most trewe appiereth,
Thanne is he forthest fro the trowthe:
Bot yit fulofte, and that is rowthe,
Thei speden that ben most untrewe
And loven every day a newe,
Wherof the lief is after loth
And love hath cause to be wroth.
Bot what man that his lust desireth
Of love, and therupon conspireth
With wordes feigned to deceive,
He schal noght faile to receive
His peine, as it is ofte sene.
Forthi, my Sone, as I thee mene,
It sit the wel to taken hiede
That thou eschuie of thi manhiede
Ipocrisie and his semblant,
That thou ne be noght deceivant,
To make a womman to believe
Thing which is noght in thi bilieve:
For in such feint Ipocrisie
Of love is al the tricherie,
Thurgh which love is deceived ofte;
For feigned semblant is so softe,
Unethes love may be war.
Forthi, my Sone, as I wel dar,
I charge thee to fle that vice,
That many a womman hath mad nice;
Bot lok thou dele noght withal.
Iwiss, fader, nomor I schal.
Now, Sone, kep that thou hast swore:
For this that thou hast herd before
Is seid the ferste point of Pride:
Thus oft the sweet to sour turns,
When one the flavor truly learns.
A lot of words are wasted when
One messes with these kind of men;
When one expects the most good news
One is set up the most to lose.
And likewise if a woman chooses
Based on words that some man uses,
Seeming like a guileless youth,
Then is he furthest from the truth:
But often, and it is a shame,
Those most untrue the best prize claim
And love each day another dame,
Who afterwards with anger burns,
As loving into loathing turns.
But whosoever out of lust
Is driven to decide he must
Dissimulate with words untrue,
He shall not fail those words to rue,
As they shall surely cause him pain.
And so, my son, as I maintain,
You would be well advised to flee
This sin, this breach of dignity,
Hypocrisy of any sort,
That you do not the truth distort,
And make a woman to believe
Things you embroider to deceive:
With such Hypocrisy is love
False treachery the victim of,
Through which it often is misled;
For feelings feigned are softly said,
So that love may be thrown off guard.
And so, my son, do not be scarred,
By failing from that vice to flee,
That makes a woman foolish be;
With such have nothing more to do.
Yes, father, this thing I’ll eschew.
Now, son, to what you’ve sworn be true:
As you’ve already heard me say
This, Pride’s first point, can make you pay.
|And next upon that other side,
To schryve and speken overthis
Touchende of Pride, yit ther is
The point seconde, I thee behote,
Which Inobedience is hote.
This vice of Inobedience
Ayein the reule of conscience
Al that is humble he desalloweth,
That he toward his god ne boweth
After the lawes of his heste.
Noght as a man bot as a beste,
Which goth upon his lustes wilde,
So goth this proude vice unmylde,
That he desdeigneth alle lawe:
He not what is to be felawe,
And serve may he noght for pride;
So is he badde on every side,
And is that selve of whom men speke,
Which wol noght bowe er that he breke.
I not if love him myhte plie,
For elles forto justefie
His herte, I not what mihte availe.
Forthi, my Sone, of such entaile
If that thin herte be disposed,
Tell out and let it noght be glosed:
For if that thou unbuxom be
To love, I not in what degree
Thou schalt thi goode world achieve.
Mi fader, ye schul wel believe,
The yonge whelp which is affaited
Hath noght his Maister betre awaited,
To couche, whan he seith "Go lowe,"
That I, anon as I may knowe
Mi ladi will, ne bowe more.
Bot other while I grucche sore
Of some thinges that sche doth,
Wherof that I woll telle soth:
For of tuo pointz I am bethoght,
That, thogh I wolde, I myhte noght
Obeie unto my ladi heste;
Bot I dar make this beheste,
Save only of that ilke tuo
I am unbuxom of no mo.
Whan ben tho tuo? tell on, quod he.
Mi fader, this is on, that sche
Comandeth me my mowth to close,
And that I scholde hir noght oppose
In love, of which I ofte preche,
Bot plenerliche of such a speche
Forbere, and soffren hire in pes.
Bot that ne myhte I natheles
For al this world obeie ywiss;
For whanne I am ther as sche is,
Though sche my tales noght alowe,
Ayein hir will yit mot I bowe,
To seche if that I myhte have grace:
Bot that thing may I noght enbrace
For ought that I can speke or do;
And yit fulofte I speke so,
That sche is wroth and seith, "Be stille."
If I that heste schal fulfille
And therto ben obedient,
Thanne is my cause fully schent,
For specheles may noman spede.
So wot I noght what is to rede;
Bot certes I may noght obeie,
That I ne mot algate seie
Somwhat of that I wolde mene;
For evere it is aliche grene,
The grete love which I have,
Wherof I can noght bothe save
My speche and this obedience:
And thus fulofte my silence
I breke, and is the ferste point
Wherof that I am out of point
In this, and yit it is no pride.
Now thanne upon that other side
To telle my desobeissance,
Ful sore it stant to my grevance
And may noght sinke into my wit;
For ofte time sche me bit
To leven hire and chese a newe,
And seith, if I the sothe knewe
How ferr I stonde from hir grace,
I scholde love in other place.
Bot therof woll I desobeie;
For also wel sche myhte seie,
"Go tak the Mone ther it sit,"
As bringe that into my wit:
For ther was nevere rooted tre,
That stod so faste in his degre,
That I ne stonde more faste
Upon hire love, and mai noght caste
Min herte awey, althogh I wolde.
For god wot, thogh I nevere scholde
Sen hir with yhe after this day,
Yit stant it so that I ne may
Hir love out of my brest remue.
This is a wonder retenue,
That malgre wher sche wole or non
Min herte is everemore in on,
So that I can non other chese,
Bot whether that I winne or lese,
I moste hire loven til I deie;
And thus I breke as be that weie
Hire hestes and hir comandinges,
Bot trewliche in non othre thinges.
Forthi, my fader, what is more
Touchende to this ilke lore
I you beseche, after the forme
That ye pleinly me wolde enforme,
So that I may myn herte reule
In loves cause after the reule.
Now in addition, speaking of
Confession on the subject, love,
A second point concerning Pride
There is, and to it is applied
The name of Disobedience.
This vice to Grace does violence
As conscience it will override;
It throws humility aside,
And unto God will not submit
But only does as it sees fit.
Just like a horny stag or buck,
That lets its lusting run amok,
This vice acts arrogantly proud,
With law’s constraints all disavowed:
He knows not how to be genteel,
Pride makes him no compassion feel;
He’s bad from every point of view,
And is the one men talk of, who
Won’t bow for fear that he might break.
If he’ll not bend for true love’s sake,
Then I don’t know what else might work
To change and justify this jerk.
And so, my son, if you should find
That in this way you are inclined,
Speak now that I might know your mind:
If disobedient you are
To love, then I don’t know how far
Toward reaching worthy goals you’ll go.
My father, please believe me though,
The little dog trained to obey
His master serves not more, to lay
When told “Lie down!”, than, when I know
My lady’s will, myself I throw
Down at her feet and grovel there.
But then I grumble, gripe, and swear
At some things that she does, and so
Of these I’d like to let you know:
Two things there are that come to mind,
Which, though I would, I’m not inclined
My lady’s wishes to obey;
But with a straight face I can say,
I am, with these two points excepted,
Inclined to act as I’m expected.
What are these two? Speak up, my son.
My father, this is number one,
That she insists my mouth I shut,
And her beliefs not undercut
Concerning love, by what I preach,
But meekly must avoid such speech
And her opinions not oppose.
But I could not be still, God knows,
If all the world would silence me;
When we have words and disagree,
And my side she will not allow,
To her opinion I must bow,
If I would hope to win her grace:
But that thing may I not embrace,
My speech and actions cannot lie;
So her I often will defy,
Thus causing her to say "Be still."
If her command I should fulfill
And be obedient to it,
Then to defeat I must admit,
And speechless be of hope bereft.
So in a quandary I am left;
Most certainly I can’t obey,
And never be allowed to say
The truth about what I believe;
For ever freshly I conceive
The boundless love I have for her,
Wherefore I cannot both defer
To her command and speak my mind:
Thus oft my silence I’m inclined
To break, on this first point my fate
Is that I’m in a troubled state,
To pride, though, it does not relate.
As to the second point, that I
Will sometimes her desires defy,
Why it does cause me grief no end
I cannot fully comprehend;
For sometimes she will bid me leave
And to another woman cleave,
And says, if I could know how she
As not her type regarded me,
Then I’d some other place love find.
But to obey I’m disinclined;
She might as well suggest that I
Go pluck the moon out of the sky,
As to such action contemplate:
For ne’er did stand a tree so great,
And strongly rooted to endure,
Than which I don’t stand more secure
Upon her love; my heart could I
Not cast away, though I might try.
For God knows, though her I’d not see
From this day to eternity,
Yet by my actions I would prove
Her love from my heart would not move.
This dedication shall abide,
And though she casts my love aside,
My heart would still to hers be tied,
So that I could no other choose;
Whether I win her love, or lose,
I must her cherish till I die;
Thus am I crushed and suffer by
Her cruel commands and harsh decrees,
But in no other things than these.
And so, my father, I more of
These teachings of yours touching love
Would learn, if you would be so kind
As to illuminate my mind;
Please, so that I may rule my heart,
To me love’s principles impart.
|Toward this vice of which we trete
Ther ben yit tweie of thilke estrete,
Here name is Murmur and Compleignte:
Ther can noman here chiere peinte,
To sette a glad semblant therinne,
For thogh fortune make hem wynne,
Yit grucchen thei, and if thei lese,
Ther is no weie forto chese,
Wherof thei myhten stonde appesed.
So ben thei comunly desesed;
Ther may no welthe ne poverte
Attempren hem to the decerte
Of buxomnesse be no wise:
For ofte time thei despise
The goode fortune as the badde,
As thei no mannes reson hadde,
Thurgh pride, wherof thei be blinde.
And ryht of such a maner kinde
Ther be lovers, that thogh thei have
Of love al that thei wolde crave,
Yit wol thei grucche be som weie,
That thei wol noght to love obeie
Upon the trowthe, as thei do scholde;
And if hem lacketh that thei wolde,
Anon thei falle in such a peine,
That evere unbuxomly thei pleigne
Upon fortune, and curse and crie,
That thei wol noght here hertes plie
To soffre til it betre falle.
Forthi if thou amonges alle
Hast used this condicioun,
Mi Sone, in thi Confessioun
Now tell me pleinly what thou art.
Mi fader, I beknowe a part,
So as ye tolden hier above
Of Murmur and Compleignte of love,
That for I se no sped comende,
Ayein fortune compleignende
I am, as who seith, everemo:
And ek fulofte tyme also,
Whan so is that I se and hiere
Or hevy word or hevy chiere
Of my lady, I grucche anon;
Bot wordes dar I speke non,
Wherof sche myhte be desplesed,
Bot in myn herte I am desesed:
With many a Murmur, god it wot,
Thus drinke I in myn oghne swot,
And thogh I make no semblant,
Min herte is al desobeissant;
And in this wise I me confesse
Of that ye clepe unbuxomnesse.
Now telleth what youre conseil is.
Mi Sone, and I thee rede this,
What so befalle of other weie,
That thou to loves heste obeie
Als ferr as thou it myht suffise:
For ofte sithe in such a wise
Obedience in love availeth,
Wher al a mannes strengthe faileth;
Wherof, if that the list to wite
In a Cronique as it is write,
A gret ensample thou myht fynde,
Which now is come to my mynde.
More vices, son, we must explore;
Pride is the parent of two more,
Whose names are Murmur and Complaint:
And men cannot their faces paint
With color that good cheer defines,
For if upon them Fortune shines
They’ll grumble, and should Fate refuse
To bless them there's no way to choose
What they'd be satisfied to gain.
Dissatisfaction’s their refrain;
If blessed with wealth or underpaid,
Of patience they cannot be made
To see the merit, through such eyes:
For just as often they’ll despise
Good fortune and the bad as well;
Pride on their vision casts a spell,
As though demented are their minds.
And lovers are there with these kinds
Of attitudes; though all that one
Of love could want they have, my son,
Yet some excuse they’ll find, some way
To be unfaithful and to stray
Instead of doing what is right;
Deprived of what they would delight
In having, they’ll such anguish feign,
And with impatience they’ll complain
To Fate, and wail and curse and cry,
That they will not their lust deny,
And calmly wait for better things.
And thus if ever you’ve had flings
Because of such propensities,
My son, in this confession please
Now tell me plainly where you stand.
My father, I to Murmur and
Complaint confess, at least in part,
Regarding my affairs of heart;
When I see no success in sight,
Invariably I’ll indict
Bad fortune for my sorry plight:
And too, when I will see or hear
A word or countenance severe
Upon my lady’s lips or face,
I grumble at this loss of grace;
But I’ll not in debate engage,
For fear I might provoke her rage.
But God knows my distress full well,
For Murmuring I cannot quell;
And thus I drown in my own sweat,
Though outwardly no clue you’d get
Of my sad heart’s frustrated fret;
To being disobedient
I plead my guilt, and now consent
To hear what your advice might be.
My son, it’s my advice to thee,
Though things might inauspicious seem,
That love’s commands you should esteem
And hold them foremost in your heart:
For oftentimes in love it's smart
To be obedient, not fail
Where all man’s strength may not avail;
Concerning this, you ought to know
About a tale from long ago,
Where one a great example sees,
Which comes to mind. So listen please.
|Ther was whilom be daies olde
A worthi knyht, and as men tolde
He was Nevoeu to themperour
And of his Court a Courteour:
Wifles he was, Florent he hihte,
He was a man that mochel myhte,
Of armes he was desirous,
Chivalerous and amorous,
And for the fame of worldes speche,
Strange aventures forto seche,
He rod the Marches al aboute.
And fell a time, as he was oute,
Fortune, which may every thred
Tobreke and knette of mannes sped,
Schop, as this knyht rod in a pas,
That he be strengthe take was,
And to a Castell thei him ladde,
Wher that he fewe frendes hadde:
For so it fell that ilke stounde
That he hath with a dedly wounde
Feihtende his oghne hondes slain
Branchus, which to the Capitain
Was Sone and Heir, wherof ben wrothe
The fader and the moder bothe.
That knyht Branchus was of his hond
The worthieste of al his lond,
And fain thei wolden do vengance
Upon Florent, bot remembrance
That thei toke of his worthinesse
Of knyhthod and of gentilesse,
And how he stod of cousinage
To themperour, made hem assuage,
And dorsten noght slen him for fere:
In gret desputeisoun thei were
Among hemself, what was the beste.
Ther was a lady, the slyheste
Of alle that men knewe tho,
So old sche myhte unethes go,
And was grantdame unto the dede:
And sche with that began to rede,
And seide how sche wol bringe him inne,
That sche schal him to dethe winne
Al only of his oghne grant,
Thurgh strengthe of verray covenant
Withoute blame of eny wiht.
Anon sche sende for this kniht,
And of hire Sone sche alleide
The deth, and thus to him sche seide:
"Florent, how so thou be to wyte
Of Branchus deth, men schal respite
As now to take vengement,
Be so thou stonde in juggement
Upon certein condicioun,
That thou unto a questioun
Which I schal axe schalt ansuere;
And over this thou schalt ek swere,
That if thou of the sothe faile,
Ther schal non other thing availe,
That thou ne schalt thi deth receive.
And for men schal thee noght deceive,
That thou therof myht ben avised,
Thou schalt have day and tyme assised
And leve saufly forto wende,
Be so that at thi daies ende
Thou come ayein with thin avys.
This knyht, which worthi was and wys,
This lady preith that he may wite,
And have it under Seales write,
What questioun it scholde be
For which he schal in that degree
Stonde of his lif in jeupartie.
With that sche feigneth compaignie,
And seith: "Florent, on love it hongeth
Al that to myn axinge longeth:
What alle wommen most desire
This wole I axe, and in thempire
Wher as thou hast most knowlechinge
Tak conseil upon this axinge."
Florent this thing hath undertake,
The day was set, the time take,
Under his seal he wrot his oth,
In such a wise and forth he goth
Hom to his Emes court ayein;
To whom his aventure plein
He tolde, of that him is befalle.
And upon that thei weren alle
The wiseste of the lond asent,
Bot natheles of on assent
Thei myhte noght acorde plat,
On seide this, an othre that.
After the disposicioun
Of naturel complexioun
To som womman it is plesance,
That to an other is grevance;
Bot such a thing in special,
Which to hem alle in general
Is most plesant, and most desired
Above alle othre and most conspired,
Such o thing conne thei noght finde
Be Constellacion ne kinde:
And thus Florent withoute cure
Mot stonde upon his aventure,
And is al schape unto the lere,
As in defalte of his answere.
This knyht hath levere forto dye
Than breke his trowthe and forto lye
In place ther as he was swore,
And schapth him gon ayein therfore.
Whan time cam he tok his leve,
That lengere wolde he noght beleve,
And preith his Em he be noght wroth,
For that is a point of his oth,
He seith, that noman schal him wreke,
Thogh afterward men hiere speke
That he par aventure deie.
And thus he wente forth his weie
Alone as knyht aventurous,
And in his thoght was curious
To wite what was best to do:
And as he rod al one so,
And cam nyh ther he wolde be,
In a forest under a tre
He syh wher sat a creature,
A lothly wommannysch figure,
That forto speke of fleisch and bon
So foul yit syh he nevere non.
This knyht behield hir redely,
And as he wolde have passed by,
Sche cleped him and bad abide;
And he his horse heved aside
Tho torneth, and to hire he rod,
And there he hoveth and abod,
To wite what sche wolde mene.
And sche began him to bemene,
And seide: "Florent be thi name,
Thou hast on honde such a game,
That bot thou be the betre avised,
Thi deth is schapen and devised,
That al the world ne mai the save,
Bot if that thou my conseil have."
Florent, whan he this tale herde,
Unto this olde wyht answerde
And of hir conseil he hir preide.
And sche ayein to him thus seide:
"Florent, if I for the so schape,
That thou thurgh me thi deth ascape
And take worschipe of thi dede,
What schal I have to my mede?"
"What thing," quod he, "that thou wolt axe."
"I bidde nevere a betre taxe,"
Quod sche, "bot ferst, er thou be sped,
Thou schalt me leve such a wedd,
That I wol have thi trowthe in honde
That thou schalt be myn housebonde."
"Nay," seith Florent, "that may noght be."
"Ryd thanne forth thi wey," quod sche,
"And if thou go withoute red,
Thou schalt be sekerliche ded."
Florent behihte hire good ynowh
Of lond, of rente, of park, of plowh,
Bot al that compteth sche at noght.
Tho fell this knyht in mochel thoght,
Now goth he forth, now comth ayein,
He wot noght what is best to sein,
And thoghte, as he rod to and fro,
That chese he mot on of the tuo,
Or forto take hire to his wif
Or elles forto lese his lif.
And thanne he caste his avantage,
That sche was of so gret an age,
That sche mai live bot a while,
And thoghte put hire in an Ile,
Wher that noman hire scholde knowe,
Til sche with deth were overthrowe.
And thus this yonge lusti knyht
Unto this olde lothly wiht
Tho seide: "If that non other chance
Mai make my deliverance,
Bot only thilke same speche
Which, as thou seist, thou schalt me teche,
Have hier myn hond, I schal thee wedde."
And thus his trowthe he leith to wedde.
With that sche frounceth up the browe:
"This covenant I wol allowe,"
Sche seith: "if eny other thing
Bot that thou hast of my techyng
Fro deth thi body mai respite,
I woll thee of thi trowthe acquite,
And elles be non other weie.
Now herkne me what I schal seie.
Whan thou art come into the place,
Wher now thei maken gret manace
And upon thi comynge abyde,
Thei wole anon the same tide
Oppose thee of thin answere.
I wot thou wolt nothing forbere
Of that thou wenest be thi beste,
And if thou myht so finde reste,
Wel is, for thanne is ther nomore.
And elles this schal be my lore,
That thou schalt seie, upon this Molde
That alle wommen lievest wolde
Be soverein of mannes love:
For what womman is so above,
Sche hath, as who seith, al hire wille;
And elles may sche noght fulfille
What thing hir were lievest have.
With this answere thou schalt save
Thiself, and other wise noght.
And whan thou hast thin ende wroght,
Com hier ayein, thou schalt me finde,
And let nothing out of thi minde."
He goth him forth with hevy chiere,
As he that not in what manere
He mai this worldes joie atteigne:
For if he deie, he hath a peine,
And if he live, he mot him binde
To such on which of alle kinde
Of wommen is thunsemlieste:
Thus wot he noght what is the beste:
Bot be him lief or be him loth,
Unto the Castell forth he goth
His full answere forto yive,
Or forto deie or forto live.
Forth with his conseil cam the lord,
The thinges stoden of record,
He sende up for the lady sone,
And forth sche cam, that olde Mone.
In presence of the remenant
The strengthe of al the covenant
Tho was reherced openly,
And to Florent sche bad forthi
That he schal tellen his avis,
As he that woot what is the pris.
Florent seith al that evere he couthe,
Bot such word cam ther non to mowthe,
That he for yifte or for beheste
Mihte eny wise his deth areste.
And thus he tarieth longe and late,
Til that this lady bad algate
That he schal for the dom final
Yive his answere in special
Of that sche hadde him ferst opposed:
And thanne he hath trewly supposed
That he him may of nothing yelpe,
Bot if so be tho wordes helpe,
Whiche as the womman hath him tawht;
Wherof he hath an hope cawht
That he schal ben excused so,
And tolde out plein his wille tho.
And whan that this Matrone herde
The manere how this knyht ansuerde,
Sche seide: "Ha treson, wo thee be,
That hast thus told the privite,
Which alle wommen most desire!
I wolde that thou were afire."
Bot natheles in such a plit
Florent of his answere is quit:
And tho began his sorwe newe,
For he mot gon, or ben untrewe,
To hire which his trowthe hadde.
Bot he, which alle schame dradde,
Goth forth in stede of his penance,
And takth the fortune of his chance,
As he that was with trowthe affaited.
This olde wyht him hath awaited
In place wher as he hire lefte:
Florent his wofull heved uplefte
And syh this vecke wher sche sat,
Which was the lothlieste what
That evere man caste on his yhe:
Hire Nase bass, hire browes hyhe,
Hire yhen smale and depe set,
Hire chekes ben with teres wet,
And rivelen as an emty skyn
Hangende doun unto the chin,
Hire Lippes schrunken ben for age,
Ther was no grace in the visage,
Hir front was nargh, hir lockes hore,
Sche loketh forth as doth a More,
Hire Necke is schort, hir schuldres courbe,
That myhte a mannes lust destourbe,
Hire body gret and nothing smal,
And schortly to descrive hire al,
Sche hath no lith withoute a lak;
Bot lich unto the wollesak
Sche proferth hire unto this knyht,
And bad him, as he hath behyht,
So as sche hath ben his warant,
That he hire holde covenant,
And be the bridel sche him seseth.
Bot godd wot how that sche him pleseth
Of suche wordes as sche spekth:
Him thenkth welnyh his herte brekth
For sorwe that he may noght fle,
Bot if he wolde untrewe be.
Loke, how a sek man for his hele
Takth baldemoine with Canele,
And with the Mirre takth the Sucre,
Ryht upon such a maner lucre
Stant Florent, as in this diete:
He drinkth the bitre with the swete,
He medleth sorwe with likynge,
And liveth, as who seith, deyinge;
His youthe schal be cast aweie
Upon such on which as the weie
Is old and lothly overal.
Bot nede he mot that nede schal:
He wolde algate his trowthe holde,
As every knyht therto is holde,
What happ so evere him is befalle:
Thogh sche be the fouleste of alle,
Yet to thonour of wommanhiede
Him thoghte he scholde taken hiede;
So that for pure gentilesse,
As he hire couthe best adresce,
In ragges, as sche was totore,
He set hire on his hors tofore
And forth he takth his weie softe;
No wonder thogh he siketh ofte.
Bot as an oule fleth be nyhte
Out of alle othre briddes syhte,
Riht so this knyht on daies brode
In clos him hield, and schop his rode
On nyhtes time, til the tyde
That he cam there he wolde abide;
And prively withoute noise
He bringth this foule grete Coise
To his Castell in such a wise
That noman myhte hire schappe avise,
Til sche into the chambre cam:
Wher he his prive conseil nam
Of suche men as he most troste,
And tolde hem that he nedes moste
This beste wedde to his wif,
For elles hadde he lost his lif.
The prive wommen were asent,
That scholden ben of his assent:
Hire ragges thei anon of drawe,
And, as it was that time lawe,
She hadde bath, sche hadde reste,
And was arraied to the beste.
Bot with no craft of combes brode
Thei myhte hire hore lockes schode,
And sche ne wolde noght be schore
For no conseil, and thei therfore,
With such atyr as tho was used,
Ordeinen that it was excused,
And hid so crafteliche aboute,
That noman myhte sen hem oute.
Bot when sche was fulliche arraied
And hire atyr was al assaied,
Tho was sche foulere on to se:
Bot yit it may non other be,
Thei were wedded in the nyht;
So wo begon was nevere knyht
As he was thanne of mariage.
And sche began to pleie and rage,
As who seith, I am wel ynowh;
Bot he therof nothing ne lowh,
For sche tok thanne chiere on honde
And clepeth him hire housebonde,
And seith, "My lord, go we to bedde,
For I to that entente wedde,
That thou schalt be my worldes blisse:"
And profreth him with that to kisse,
As sche a lusti Lady were.
His body myhte wel be there,
Bot as of thoght and of memoire
His herte was in purgatoire.
Bot yit for strengthe of matrimoine
He myhte make non essoine,
That he ne mot algates plie
To gon to bedde of compaignie:
And whan thei were abedde naked,
Withoute slep he was awaked;
He torneth on that other side,
For that he wolde hise yhen hyde
Fro lokynge on that foule wyht.
The chambre was al full of lyht,
The courtins were of cendal thinne,
This newe bryd which lay withinne,
Thogh it be noght with his acord,
In armes sche beclipte hire lord,
And preide, as he was torned fro,
He wolde him torne ayeinward tho;
"For now," sche seith, "we ben bothe on."
And he lay stille as eny ston,
Bot evere in on sche spak and preide,
And bad him thenke on that he seide,
Whan that he tok hire be the hond.
He herde and understod the bond,
How he was set to his penance,
And as it were a man in trance
He torneth him al sodeinly,
And syh a lady lay him by
Of eyhtetiene wynter age,
Which was the faireste of visage
That evere in al this world he syh:
And as he wolde have take hire nyh,
Sche put hire hand and be his leve
Besoghte him that he wolde leve,
And seith that forto wynne or lese
He mot on of tuo thinges chese,
Wher he wol have hire such on nyht,
Or elles upon daies lyht,
For he schal noght have bothe tuo.
And he began to sorwe tho,
In many a wise and caste his thoght,
Bot for al that yit cowthe he noght
Devise himself which was the beste.
And sche, that wolde his hertes reste,
Preith that he scholde chese algate,
Til ate laste longe and late
He seide: "O ye, my lyves hele,
Sey what you list in my querele,
I not what ansuere I schal yive:
Bot evere whil that I may live,
I wol that ye be my maistresse,
For I can noght miselve gesse
Which is the beste unto my chois.
Thus grante I yow myn hole vois,
Ches for ous bothen, I you preie;
And what as evere that ye seie,
Riht as ye wole so wol I."
"Mi lord," sche seide, " grant merci,
For of this word that ye now sein,
That ye have mad me soverein,
Mi destine is overpassed,
That nevere hierafter schal be lassed
Mi beaute, which that I now have,
Til I be take into my grave;
Bot nyht and day as I am now
I schal alwey be such to yow.
The kinges dowhter of Cizile
I am, and fell bot siththe awhile,
As I was with my fader late,
That my Stepmoder for an hate,
Which toward me sche hath begonne,
Forschop me, til I hadde wonne
The love and sovereinete
Of what knyht that in his degre
Alle othre passeth of good name:
And, as men sein, ye ben the same,
The dede proeveth it is so;
Thus am I youres evermo."
Tho was plesance and joye ynowh,
Echon with other pleide and lowh;
Thei live longe and wel thei ferde,
And clerkes that this chance herde
Thei writen it in evidence,
To teche how that obedience
Mai wel fortune a man to love
And sette him in his lust above,
As it befell unto this knyht.
was one time, in days of old,
A worthy knight who, as men told,
Was nephew to the emperor,
And at his court, a courtier.
Wifeless he was, Florent his name,
He had great might that won him fame;
Of arms he was desirous,
Yet chivalrous and amorous.
And so his fame the world might speak,
Some strange adventures for to seek,
He rode the Marches all about.
And then, one time when he was out,
Dame Fortune, who man’s every thread
May spin or break, knew where he sped
Through mountain passes on his horse,
And saw that he was seized by force.
Then, to a castle he was brought,
Wherein his friends were few or nought,
For as it happened, in that fight,
Florent had dealt, with fearsome might,
A deadly wound that had undone
One Branchus, who was heir and son
Unto the captain: wrath and rue
For father and for mother, too.
Branchus was, by strength of hand,
The greatest knight in all the land,
And they would fain do vengeance on
Florent, but mindful thereupon
Of his undoubted worthiness,
His gentle knighthood, and no less
Than royal kinship, once they gauged
All this, they found their wrath assuaged,
And durst not slay him, out of fear:
In great dispute, they sought to hear
Amongst themselves, which course was best.
There was a dame, the wiliest
And slyest known, who shared their talk,
So old that she could scarcely walk:
Grand-dam to Branchus, who was slain.
By way of counsel, she’d make plain
A way that she could reel him in
And set things up so Death might win
A prize Florent alone would grant
Through strength of rightful covenant,
Without the blame of any wight.
Anon, she bade them fetch the knight,
And charged him that her boy lay dead
Because of him, and this she said:
“Florent, though you’re the cause, to wit,
Of Branchus dying, a respite
We’ll take for now, and vengeance hold,
If you’ll stand judgment, as you’re told,
Upon a certain sole condition
Of a question’s imposition,
Asked by me: you shall prepare
An answer, and you’ll also swear
That if you fail to guess the truth,
Naught shall avail you then, forsooth,
But rather death shall be your lot.
And so that men deceive you not
In that whereof you are advised,
The day and time shall be assized,
And you may safely leave, and wend
Your way home, if by that day’s end
You come again to give your guess.”
The knight, from wisdom’s worthiness,
Replied, “My lady, pray reveal
And have it written under seal,
Whatever question it should be,
For which I shall, in some degree,
Put my own life in jeopardy.”
With that she feigned cordiality,
And said, “Florent, it hangs on love,
This thing I long to ask you of:
What do all women most desire?
This will I ask; in that Empire
You know the best, I set your task:
Take counsel as to what I ask.”
Florent did undertake this thing,
The day and time of reckoning;
Under his seal, he wrote his oath
As bidden, for he was not loath
To seek his uncle’s court again;
He told him his adventure then
Quite plainly, as it did befall.
And after that, the wise men all
Were sent for, but could not consent
On what to do, and no assent
Was made, nor yet accord thereat,
For one said this, another that.
After the very disposition
Of our natural condition,
What will give one woman pleasure
Gives another grief in measure;
But one thing, especially,
That as a generality
Might be most pleasing and desired,
Overall, the most required,
Nowhere could these sages find,
By gauging stars or humankind;
And thus Florent, without a cure,
Would take his chances, that was sure,
And it was likely he would lose:
For it’s default that he must choose.
This knight, who would much rather die
Than break his sacred oath, and lie
To those for whom an oath he swore,
Made ready to go back once more.
When it was time, he took his leave:
To linger would bring no reprieve;
And said: “Pray, uncle, be not wroth,
For I swore, when I pledged my troth,
That no man his revenge would wreak
Though afterwards they hear men speak
Of me, perhaps to say I died.”
And thus he went his way, to ride
Alone, a knight adventurous,
And in his thoughts, most curious
To know what would be best to do.
And as he rode alone, and drew
Near to the place he wished to be,
Within a wood, beneath a tree,
He looked, and there he saw a creature,
Loathly and womanish of feature,
And, to speak of flesh and bone,
So foul a one he’d never known.
The knight did cast a wary eye
Upon her, thinking to pass by,
But she called out, “Pray stop and bide!”
He pulled his horse’s head aside,
Then turned him, and to her he rode,
And there he halted and abode,
To learn just what was her intent.
At this, she started to lament,
And said, “Florent, for that’s your name,
You have your hand in such a game
That if you are not well advised,
Your death is planned, and so devised
That all the world your life won’t save,
Unless my counsel you shall crave.”
And so Florent, once he had heard
This story, told the gray old bird,
“Give me this good advice, I pray.”
And she again to him did say:
“Florent, if you will let me shape
Events so that you shall escape
Your death, and for this are adored,
What shall I have for my reward?”
“The thing,” he said, “that you would ask.”
“I ask no better fee or task,”
She said, “but first, before you’re spared,
Your solemn vow shall be declared
That I will have your troth in hand,
And you shall be my own husband.”
“Nay,” said Florent, “that may not be.”
“Ride forth, then, on your way,” said she.
“If ill-advised you ride ahead,
You surely are as good as dead.”
Florent his promise did allow
Of land, of rent, of park, of plow,
But all this she accounted naught.
The knight fell deeply into thought,
Now riding forth, now back her way;
He knew not what was best to say,
And thought, as he rode to and fro,
His choice was either woe or woe:
To take this creature for his wife,
Or else to surely lose his life.
But one advantage he could gauge:
That she was of so great an age,
She might live but a little while,
And he could put her on an isle
Where she could linger, all unknown,
Until Death saw her overthrown.
And thus, the young and lusty knight
Unto this old and loathly wight
Then said: “If there’s no other chance
May give me my deliverance,
But only learning that same speech
Which, as you say, to me you’ll teach,
Have here my hand, you shall I wed.”
His troth he plighted, as he said.
At this she wrinkled up her brow:
“This covenant I will allow,”
She said, “but if some other thing
Save what you’ll have of my teaching
Unto your body gives respite
From death, I promise to acquit
You of your troth, no other way.
Now, hearken to what I shall say:
When you have come into the place
Where they make menace, thus to face
The foe whose coming they await,
At once, on the appointed date,
Your answer they’ll reject, alack!
I know that you’ll hold nothing back
Of what you deem to be your best,
And if you find eternal rest,
Well then, there’s nothing we can do.
But otherwise, I counsel you
That you shall say: Upon this earth
The thing all women give most worth
Is to be sovereign of man’s love:
No woman stands so high above
The rest, as she who has her will,
And otherwise, she won’t fulfill
Her longing for what women crave.
And with this answer, you shall save
Yourself, and otherwise shall not.
And when this ending you have wrought,
Come here again, and me you’ll find:
Let nothing slip out from your mind.”
He went forth with a gloomy face,
As one who knows not, in his case,
How this world’s joy he may attain:
For if he dies, he will have pain,
And if he lives, then he must bind
Himself to one of womankind
Who is the most unseemliest,
And thus he knew not which was best;
But will he, nil he, loath or no,
Unto to the castle he must go,
His final answer for to give,
And thus to die, or else to live.
Forth with his council came the lord;
Things stood as they did first record;
He sent for the old dame, and soon
She tottered forth, a sharp-faced moon.
In presence of the parliament,
The key points of the covenant
Were then recited openly,
And to Florent then, this lady
Bade he should tell them his advice,
Reminding him of failure’s price.
Florent said all he ever could,
But to his mouth, no such words would
Come forth, for gift or for bequest,
That might somehow his death arrest.
And thus he stalled them, long and late,
Until that lady said his fate
As to his final doom, would be
An answer made specifically
Unto the question she first posed.
And then, in truth, Florent supposed
That there was nothing he could yelp,
Unless it were, if words could help,
Those words the ugly woman taught.
From this, a gleam of hope he caught
That thus he’d be excused, not dead,
And told out plainly what she’d said.
And when this matron thus had heard
The way in which the knight answered,
She said, “Ha! Treason! Woe to thee
For having told what’s secretly
The thing all women most desire!
I wish you would catch on fire.”
Nonetheless, from this his plight
Florent’s response aquits him, quite;
And then his sorrow starts anew,
For he must go, or be untrue
To her on whom he’d staked his name.
But he, as one who dreaded shame,
Went forth in place of punishment,
To take the chance that fortune sent,
As one who by his troth is bound.
The ancient wight was waiting, found
Where he had left her, and his gaze
As he his woeful head did raise,
Fell on the harpy where she sat;
She was the loathliest old bat
At whom man ever cast an eye:
Her nose hung low, her brows arched high,
Her eyes were small and deeply set;
With tears her cheeks were always wet,
And wrinkled as an empty skin,
Hanging in folds down to her chin.
Her lips were shrunk with age; her face
Had not a single saving grace;
Her locks were white, her forehead poor,
She glowered like a Blackamoor.
Her neck was short, her shoulders round:
All manly lust she could confound;
Her form was gross and not petite,
And, this sad picture to complete,
She had no part without a lack;
But, like a tattered woolen sack,
Herself she proffered to this knight,
And bade him, since he’d vowed outright
That his life’s warrant she would grant,
He must hold to her covenant,
And by the bridle he was seized.
But God could only know how pleased
He was by words like those she’d spoken:
His poor heart was well-nigh broken,
Sorrowful he may not flee,
Unless untruthful he would be.
Look how a man whose health is gone
Takes gentian root with cinnamon,
And with white sugar swallows myrrh:
A cost Florent pays to confer
Good taste on food that he must eat;
He drinks the bitter with the sweet,
And mixes ease with sorrow’s sighing,
Living when he knows he’s dying.
Youth shall now be cast away
On one who, by the light of day,
Is old and loathly, head to toe.
But need does as it must, and so
He’ll keep his promise, and be true,
As every knight is sworn to do,
Whatever happens to befall.
Though she’s the foulest of them all,
To honor all of womanhood
He must take heed, as understood.
And so, from purest gentleness
As best he could, Florent did dress
The hag in those foul rags she wore;
Upon his horse, with her before,
He quietly set forth to ride;
No wonder that he often sighed.
But as an owl flies by night
Away from other birds’ keen sight,
Likewise this knight, by daylight broad
Stayed hidden, and his road he trod
At night-time, till one eventide
He came to where he would abide;
And secretly, without a sound,
He brought this great foul slattern round
Into his castle, in such wise
Her shape was seen by no man’s eyes,
Till she unto her chamber came.
His privy council he did name
Of such men that he could most trust,
And told them that from need, he must
Take this beast for his wedded wife,
For elsewise, he’d have lost his life.
Then for the chambermaids he sent;
By his command, they quickly went
To doff the rags that she had on,
And as the custom was, anon
She had a bath, she had some rest,
And was arrayed to look her best.
But with no craft of combing might
They part her locks of hoary white,
And then, since she would not be shorn
Or hear of it, they did adorn
Her hair with headgear that was used
So typically, all was excused,
And hid it carefully about,
So none could see it sticking out.
But when she was in full array,
And her attire they did weigh,
Then she was fouler yet to see.
Since otherwise it could not be,
They wedded in the dark of night.
No other knight was ever quite
As woebegone as he in marriage.
And her playful, wanton carriage
Seemed to say, “I’m happy now,”
But he could hardly laugh at how
She cupped his face within her hand,
And said he was her own husband,
And then: “My lord, let’s go to bed,
For that’s the reason I was wed,
That you should be my worldly bliss.”
And then, she offered him a kiss,
Just like a lovely lady would.
His body sat there, as it should,
But as for thought and memory’s part,
In purgatory was his heart.
Yet such is matrimony’s strength,
Florent had no excuse, at length,
For his refusal to submit,
And bed her, and be intimate.
When they were naked in the bed,
He could not sleep, and turned his head
Away, and rolled upon his side
So that his eyes could safely hide
And never look on that foul wight.
The chamber was all filled with light,
The curtains were of cendal thin;
This new bride, who lay there within,
Though it was not of his accord,
In both arms did embrace her lord,
And prayed, since he was turned away,
He’d turn around to where she lay,
“For now,” she said, “we’re one alone.”
And he lay still as any stone,
But she spoke ever on, and prayed
He’d think about the vows he made
That time he took her by the hand.
He heard and had to understand
The bond and penance, his by chance.
Then, like a man within a trance,
He turned around quite suddenly,
And by his side, what did he see?
A lady eighteen winters old,
The fairest face the world might hold,
Or that to his eyes might appear;
And while he would have held her near,
She raised her hand with: “By your leave,
I must beseech a short reprieve.
To play this game, and win or lose,
Between these two things you must choose:
Whether to have me thus at night,
Or else within the daytime’s light.
For you shall not have both the two.”
And he began to grieve anew
In many a wise, and worked his thought,
But for all that, he still could not
Decide upon which one was best.
And she, to put his heart at rest,
Did pray he’d choose, in any case,
Until at last, with knightly grace,
He said: “Oh you, who saved my life,
Say what you like about my strife,
Which of these answers I shall give
I know not, but while I may live,
I wish that you were my mistress,
For by myself, I cannot guess
Which one is best, as to my choice.
Thus will I grant you my whole voice:
Choose for us both, I humbly pray,
And whatsoever you shall say,
Just as you wish it, so will I.”
“My lord,” she said, “give thanks thereby,
For with those words you said, wherein
You made me your own sovereign,
My destiny is overcome,
And nothing will be taken from
My beauty, all of which I’ll save
Till I be taken to my grave.
Both day and night, as I am now
I’ll always be to you, I vow.
For of the king of Sicily
I am the daughter. Verily,
When I was with my father last,
For hatred, my stepmother cast
A curse on me that, once begun,
Misshaped me, until I had won
The love and with it, sovereignty
Of any knight, of such degree
Surpassing others of good name.
And since men say you are the same,
This deed has proven it; therefore
I shall be yours forevermore.”
Joy and pleasure followed after:
Each with the other played, with laughter;
They lived long and well, in bliss,
And when the clergy heard of this,
They wrote it down as evidence
To teach us how obedience
May bring a well-starred man to love,
And this will set him far above
All lust, as it befell this knight.
|Forthi, my Sone, if thou do ryht,
Thou schalt unto thi love obeie,
And folwe hir will be alle weie.
Min holy fader, so I wile:
For ye have told me such a skile
Of this ensample now tofore,
That I schal evermo therfore
Hierafterward myn observance
To love and to his obeissance
The betre kepe: and over this
Of pride if ther oght elles is,
Wherof that I me schryve schal,
What thing it is in special,
Mi fader, axeth, I you preie.
Now lest, my Sone, and I schal seie:
For yit ther is Surquiderie,
Which stant with Pride of compaignie;
Wherof that thou schalt hiere anon,
To knowe if thou have gult or non
Upon the forme as thou schalt hiere:
Now understond wel the matiere.
Surquiderie is thilke vice
Of Pride, which the thridde office
Hath in his Court, and wol noght knowe
The trowthe til it overthrowe.
Upon his fortune and his grace
Comth "Hadde I wist" fulofte aplace;
For he doth al his thing be gesse,
And voideth alle sikernesse.
Non other conseil good him siemeth
Bot such as he himselve diemeth;
For in such wise as he compasseth,
His wit al one alle othre passeth;
And is with pride so thurghsoght,
That he alle othre set at noght,
And weneth of himselven so,
That such as he ther be nomo,
So fair, so semly, ne so wis;
And thus he wolde bere a pris
Above alle othre, and noght forthi
He seith noght ones "grant mercy"
To godd, which alle grace sendeth,
So that his wittes he despendeth
Upon himself, as thogh ther were
No godd which myhte availe there:
Bot al upon his oghne witt
He stant, til he falle in the pitt
So ferr that he mai noght arise.
And riht thus in the same wise
This vice upon the cause of love
So proudly set the herte above,
And doth him pleinly forto wene
That he to loven eny qwene
Hath worthinesse and sufficance;
And so withoute pourveance
Fulofte he heweth up so hihe,
That chippes fallen in his yhe;
And ek ful ofte he weneth this,
Ther as he noght beloved is,
To be beloved alther best.
Now, Sone, tell what so thee lest
Of this that I have told thee hier.
Ha, fader, be noght in a wer:
I trowe ther be noman lesse,
Of eny maner worthinesse,
That halt him lasse worth thanne I
To be beloved; and noght forthi
I seie in excusinge of me,
To alle men that love is fre.
And certes that mai noman werne;
For love is of himself so derne,
It luteth in a mannes herte:
Bot that ne schal me noght asterte,
To wene forto be worthi
To loven, bot in hir mercy.
Bot, Sire, of that ye wolden mene,
That I scholde otherwise wene
To be beloved thanne I was,
I am beknowe as in that cas.
Mi goode Sone, tell me how.
Now lest, and I wol telle yow,
Mi goode fader, how it is.
Fulofte it hath befalle or this
Thurgh hope that was noght certein,
Mi wenynge hath be set in vein
To triste in thing that halp me noght,
Bot onliche of myn oughne thoght.
For as it semeth that a belle
Lik to the wordes that men telle
Answerth, riht so ne mor ne lesse,
To yow, my fader, I confesse,
Such will my wit hath overset,
That what so hope me behet,
Ful many a time I wene it soth,
Bot finali no spied it doth.
Thus may I tellen, as I can,
Wenyng beguileth many a man;
So hath it me, riht wel I wot:
For if a man wole in a Bot
Which is withoute botme rowe,
He moste nedes overthrowe.
Riht so wenyng hath ferd be me:
For whanne I wende next have be,
As I be my wenynge caste,
Thanne was I furthest ate laste,
And as a foll my bowe unbende,
Whan al was failed that I wende.
Forthi, my fader, as of this,
That my wenynge hath gon amis
Touchende to Surquiderie,
Yif me my penance er I die.
Bot if ye wolde in eny forme
Of this matiere a tale enforme,
Which were ayein this vice set,
I scholde fare wel the bet.
Therefore, my son, if you do right
Thou to thy love shalt faithful be,
And always she’ll be there for thee.
My father, to this course I’ll hold:
For an example you have told
Which makes a lot of sense to me,
Thus henceforth I shall faithful be
And shall be certain from this day
To love’s demands more heed to pay.
And if there is, concerning Pride,
Some other thing I should confide
That my confession does require,
Please do not hesitate, my sire,
To tell me what you want, I pray.
Now listen , son, to what I’ll say:
For Arrogance our theme shall be,
Oft sighted in Pride's company;
Now hear and think, down deep inside,
If you are free of guilt, decide
According to the tales I’ll tell:
Now understand this matter well.
Arrogance is that vice, I’ve heard,
Which in the court of Pride stands third,
And will not learn the truth till he
Is ruined by calamity.
And oft when he is overthrown,
We hear ‘If I had only known’;
For he by impulse does all things,
All certainty away he flings.
All other counsel he ignores;
On his own wings he only soars.
In his opinion, which he heeds,
His wit all other wit exceeds;
He so pervaded is with Pride,
He cavalierly casts aside
All else; he thinks he is so rare
That no one can with him compare,
So beautiful, so wise, so fair;
And thus he would receive great praise
But not because he honor pays
By saying ‘grant me mercy, Lord’
To Him by whom all grace is poured
Out on the pure, so self consumed
Is he, it’s as though he’s presumed
That of God’s help he has no need.
‘I’m self sufficient’ is his creed,
He says, till he falls in the pit
So far he can’t get out of it.
And when it comes to love, this sin
Will likewise cause him to begin
To proudly elevate his heart
Until he thinks he stands apart
So that for any queen, he sees
Himself as worthy her to please;
And so, devoid of prudence he
Oft hews so high up in the tree,
That chips into his eyes will fall;
And often he will have the gall
To think that he’s loved best of all,
When just the opposite is true.
Now tell me what you wish in view
Of what you’ve just now heard me say.
Well, father, put all doubts away!
I trust that no man’s worth is less
Than is my own to have success
In matters that pertain to love;
And it’s not for the purpose of
Maintaining worth one must not weigh
In loving, that these things I say.
This certainly no man may doubt,
For love in secret lurks about
Within the shadows of man’s heart.
But I would never play the part
Of one who thinks he should succeed
In love, unless she is agreed.
But, sire, if it is your intent
That I should think that love is meant
To be regarded differently,
In that case I must guilty be.
My good son, tell me how, I pray.
Now listen, please, to what I’ll say,
Good father, as to how it’s been;
For often when her love I’d win,
Through hope that certainty ignored,
I avenues of thought explored
And onto useless things did latch,
That my misguided mind did hatch.
For as a bell that’s clear and true
Will ring in faithful answer to
What men say, neither more nor less,
Just so to you I now confess,
My heart so to my mind deferred
That whensoever hope was stirred
I would regard it as a fact,
But in the end success I lacked.
Thus I may say that thinking can
Beguile and mislead many a man.
At least it’s been that way with me:
For if a man puts out to sea
Without a paddle in his boat,
He surely shall not stay afloat.
Has thinking done me any good?
Well, when I fancied that I could
Aim thinking’s arrow in the dark,
Then was I furthest from the mark,
And all my plans awry did go
When I, a fool, released my bow.
Therefore, my father, as for this,
That thinking made me go amiss,
And Arrogance I don’t deny,
Give me my penance ere I die.
But if there’s any tale you might
Relate to me to shed some light
Upon this, Pride’s vice number three,
It would most beneficial be.
|Mi Sone, in alle maner wise
Surquiderie is to despise,
Wherof I finde write thus.
The proude knyht Capane.s
He was of such Surquiderie,
That he thurgh his chivalerie
Upon himself so mochel triste,
That to the goddes him ne liste
In no querele to beseche,
Bot seide it was an ydel speche,
Which caused was of pure drede,
For lack of herte and for no nede.
And upon such presumpcioun
He hield this proude opinioun,
Til ate laste upon a dai,
Aboute Thebes wher he lay,
Whan it of Siege was belein,
This knyht, as the Croniqes sein,
In alle mennes sihte there,
Whan he was proudest in his gere,
And thoghte how nothing myhte him dere,
Ful armed with his schield and spere
As he the Cite wolde assaile,
Godd tok himselve the bataille
Ayein his Pride, and fro the sky
A firy thonder sodeinly
He sende, and him to pouldre smot.
And thus the Pride which was hot,
Whan he most in his strengthe wende,
Was brent and lost withouten ende:
So that it proeveth wel therfore,
The strengthe of man is sone lore,
Bot if that he it wel governe.
And over this a man mai lerne
That ek fulofte time it grieveth,
Whan that a man himself believeth,
As thogh it scholde him wel beseme
That he alle othre men can deme,
And hath foryete his oghne vice.
A tale of hem that ben so nyce,
And feigne hemself to be so wise,
I schal thee telle in such a wise,
Wherof thou schalt ensample take
That thou no such thing undertake.
My son, in any
form or guise
One should all Arrogance despise,
Concerning which the ancients write
Of one Capaneus, a knight
Who such an Arrogance possessed,
Because with prowess he was blessed
In war, self trust he had so strong
That in no battle did he long
To pray unto the gods for aid,
But said those who in this way prayed
Did so because they cowards were,
No courage did their hearts bestir.
On this presumption he did hold
His proud opinion, we are told,
Until at last on one fine day,
When he at Thebes in wait did lay
While with a siege they did proceed,
As in the Histories we read,
This knight in all men’s sight around,
When in his gear himself he found,
And thought how he need nothing fear,
Armed fully with his shield and spear
As he the city would assault,
God chose to fight against this fault
Of Arrogance, and from the sky
A fiery thunderbolt let fly
And to a pile of ash he turned.
Thus this Pride that most hotly burned,
When in his strength he most did trust,
Was burned up and reduced to dust.
Which only goes to show that man
Will lose his strength unless he can
With wisdom govern it. And too,
From this one may conclude it’s true,
That oft a man will come to grief,
When he has such strong self belief,
That he regards it as his place
To judge all other men as base,
While his own sin he overlooks.
In this vein I shall, from the books,
A tale tell of some stupid guys,
Who think themselves to be so wise,
That you may from their folly learn
From all such foolishness to turn.
|I finde upon Surquiderie,
How that whilom of Hungarie
Be olde daies was a King
Wys and honeste in alle thing:
And so befell upon a dai,
And that was in the Monthe of Maii,
As thilke time it was usance,
This kyng with noble pourveance
Hath for himself his Charr araied,
Wher inne he wolde ride amaied
Out of the Cite forto pleie,
With lordes and with gret nobleie
Of lusti folk that were yonge:
Wher some pleide and some songe,
And some gon and some ryde,
And some prike here hors aside
And bridlen hem now in now oute.
The kyng his yhe caste aboute,
Til he was ate laste war
And syh comende ayein his char
Two pilegrins of so gret age,
That lich unto a dreie ymage
Thei weren pale and fade hewed,
And as a bussh which is besnewed,
Here berdes weren hore and whyte;
Ther was of kinde bot a lite,
That thei ne semen fulli dede.
Thei comen to the kyng and bede
Som of his good par charite;
And he with gret humilite
Out of his Char to grounde lepte,
And hem in bothe hise armes kepte
And keste hem bothe fot and hond
Before the lordes of his lond,
And yaf hem of his good therto:
And whanne he hath this dede do,
He goth into his char ayein.
Tho was Murmur, tho was desdeign,
Tho was compleignte on every side,
Thei seiden of here oghne Pride
Eche until othre: "What is this?
Oure king hath do this thing amis,
So to abesse his realte
That every man it myhte se,
And humbled him in such a wise
To hem that were of non emprise."
Thus was it spoken to and fro
Of hem that were with him tho
Al prively behinde his bak;
Bot to himselven noman spak.
The kinges brother in presence
Was thilke time, and gret offence
He tok therof, and was the same
Above alle othre which most blame
Upon his liege lord hath leid,
And hath unto the lordes seid,
Anon as he mai time finde,
Ther schal nothing be left behinde,
That he wol speke unto the king.
Now lest what fell upon this thing.
The day was merie and fair ynowh,
Echon with othre pleide and lowh,
And fellen into tales newe,
How that the freisshe floures grewe,
And how the grene leves spronge,
And how that love among the yonge
Began the hertes thanne awake,
And every bridd hath chose hire make:
And thus the Maies day to thende
Thei lede, and hom ayein thei wende.
The king was noght so sone come,
That whanne he hadde his chambre nome,
His brother ne was redi there,
And broghte a tale unto his Ere
Of that he dede such a schame
In hindringe of his oghne name,
Whan he himself so wolde drecche,
That to so vil a povere wrecche
Him deigneth schewe such simplesce
Ayein thastat of his noblesce:
And seith he schal it nomor use,
And that he mot himself excuse
Toward hise lordes everychon.
The king stod stille as eny ston,
And to his tale an Ere he leide,
And thoghte more than he seide:
Bot natheles to that he herde
Wel cortaisly the king answerde,
And tolde it scholde be amended.
And thus whan that her tale is ended,
Al redy was the bord and cloth,
The king unto his Souper goth
Among the lordes to the halle;
And whan thei hadden souped alle,
Thei token leve and forth thei go.
The king bethoghte himselve tho
How he his brother mai chastie,
That he thurgh his Surquiderie
Tok upon honde to despreise
Humilite, which is to preise,
And therupon yaf such conseil
Toward his king that was noght heil;
Wherof to be the betre lered,
He thenkth to maken him afered.
It fell so that in thilke dawe
Ther was ordeined be the lawe
A trompe with a sterne breth,
Which cleped was the Trompe of deth:
And in the Court wher the king was
A certein man this Trompe of bras
Hath in kepinge, and therof serveth,
That whan a lord his deth deserveth,
He schal this dredful trompe blowe
Tofore his gate, and make it knowe
How that the jugement is yove
Of deth, which schal noght be foryove.
The king, whan it was nyht, anon
This man asente and bad him gon
To trompen at his brother gate;
And he, which mot so don algate,
Goth forth and doth the kynges heste.
This lord, which herde of this tempeste
That he tofore his gate blew,
Tho wiste he be the lawe and knew
That he was sikerliche ded:
And as of help he wot no red,
Bot sende for hise frendes alle
And tolde hem how it is befalle.
And thei him axe cause why;
Bot he the sothe noght forthi
Ne wiste, and ther was sorwe tho:
For it stod thilke tyme so,
This trompe was of such sentence,
That therayein no resistence
Thei couthe ordeine be no weie,
That he ne mot algate deie,
Bot if so that he may pourchace
To gete his liege lordes grace.
Here wittes therupon thei caste,
And ben apointed ate laste.
This lord a worthi ladi hadde
Unto his wif, which also dradde
Hire lordes deth, and children five
Betwen hem two thei hadde alyve,
That weren yonge and tendre of age,
And of stature and of visage
Riht faire and lusty on to se.
Tho casten thei that he and sche
Forth with here children on the morwe,
As thei that were full of sorwe,
Al naked bot of smok and scherte,
To tendre with the kynges herte,
His grace scholden go to seche
And pardoun of the deth beseche.
Thus passen thei that wofull nyht,
And erly, whan thei sihe it lyht,
Thei gon hem forth in such a wise
As thou tofore hast herd devise,
Al naked bot here schortes one.
Thei wepte and made mochel mone,
Here Her hangende aboute here Eres;
With sobbinge and with sory teres
This lord goth thanne an humble pas,
That whilom proud and noble was;
Wherof the Cite sore afflyhte,
Of hem that sihen thilke syhte:
And natheless al openly
With such wepinge and with such cri
Forth with hise children and his wif
He goth to preie for his lif.
Unto the court whan thei be come,
And men therinne have hiede nome,
Ther was no wiht, if he hem syhe,
Fro water mihte kepe his yhe
For sorwe which thei maden tho.
The king supposeth of this wo,
And feigneth as he noght ne wiste;
Bot natheles at his upriste
Men tolden him how that it ferde:
And whan that he this wonder herde,
In haste he goth into the halle,
And alle at ones doun thei falle,
If eny pite may be founde.
The king, which seth hem go to grounde,
Hath axed hem what is the fere,
Why thei be so despuiled there.
His brother seide: "Ha lord, mercy!
I wot non other cause why,
Bot only that this nyht ful late
The trompe of deth was at my gate
In tokne that I scholde deie;
Thus be we come forto preie
That ye mi worldes deth respite."
"Ha fol, how thou art forto wyte,"
The king unto his brother seith,
"That thou art of so litel feith,
That only for a trompes soun
Hast gon despuiled thurgh the toun,
Thou and thi wif in such manere
Forth with thi children that ben here,
In sihte of alle men aboute,
For that thou seist thou art in doute
Of deth, which stant under the lawe
Of man, and man it mai withdrawe,
So that it mai par chance faile.
Now schalt thou noght forthi mervaile
That I doun fro my Charr alihte,
Whanne I behield tofore my sihte
In hem that were of so grete age
Min oghne deth thurgh here ymage,
Which god hath set be lawe of kynde,
Wherof I mai no bote finde:
For wel I wot, such as thei be,
Riht such am I in my degree,
Of fleissh and blod, and so schal deie.
And thus, thogh I that lawe obeie
Of which the kinges ben put under,
It oghte ben wel lasse wonder
Than thou, which art withoute nede
For lawe of londe in such a drede,
Which for tacompte is bot a jape,
As thing which thou miht overscape.
Forthi, mi brother, after this
I rede, sithen that so is
That thou canst drede a man so sore,
Dred god with al thin herte more:
For al schal deie and al schal passe,
Als wel a Leoun as an asse,
Als wel a beggere as a lord,
Towardes deth in on acord
Thei schullen stonde." And in this wise
The king hath with hise wordes wise
His brother tawht and al foryive.
Of Arrogance I find it told,
How Hungary was once controlled
In olden days by one wise king
Who honest was in every thing:
And so it happened on one day,
Which was within the month of May,
As was the custom in those days,
This king his chariot arrays
With all provisions finely made,
Wherein he in a great parade
Out of the city rides to play,
With lords and nobles great and gay
An elegant and youthful gang:
Where some did play and others sang,
And some did walk and some did ride,
Some to their horses spurs applied
Now reining loose, now reining tight.
The king took in this merry sight,
Until he noticed the approach
Of pilgrims two toward his coach
Who both appeared so old to be,
That like a withered effigy
They were, of pale and faded hue,
White beards upon their faces grew,
Like bushes laced with fallen snow;
Devoid of any lifelike glow,
Near fully dead they did appear.
They came and bid the king to hear
Their plea for his kind charity;
And he with great humility
Leapt from his carriage to the ground
And his great arms he threw around
Them both and kissed their feet and hands
Before the lords of all his lands,
And gave to satisfy their need:
And after he had done this deed,
Back to his carriage went this saint.
There Murmur was, and there Complaint,
There was Disdain on every side,
All said because of their own Pride
Unto the other: “What’s this thing?
It is not fitting for a king,
Thus to abase his royalty
In such a way that all might see,
And bow himself down on the earth
To them that are of little worth.”
Thus was it whispered all around
By those who on his actions frowned,
To talk ehind his back they seek;
But to him none did dare to speak.
The brother of the king was there
Who did these criticisms share
He more than all the rest, in fact,
His worthy sovereign lord attacked,
And seemed the most offense to take;
He told the lords that for their sake
To talk unto the king he yearned,
And would, as far as that’s concerned,
Be sure no stone was left unturned.
Now hear what of this thing became.
The day was merry, for the game
Of love each with the other played,
All laugh and with each other trade
New stories of how nature breeds
New foliage from long dormant seeds,
Thus do love’s blossoms bloom among
This company whose hearts are young,
And every bird selects a mate:
Thus as the day is getting late
Back home they go from this event.
The king upon returning went
Directly to his chamber where
He found his brother waiting there,
Who to him this complaint did voice
Of how he by his shameful choice
Did bring to his own name disgrace,
When he himself would so debase
By lowering himself to serve
Those vile scum who did not deserve
To in his noble notice bask:
Thus did he take the king to task
And asked, since honor was at stake,
That an apology he make.
Still as a stone the king did take
All this complaining in, and not
With speaking he reacts, just thought.
To these insults his brother flung
The king replied with civil tongue,
That they their gripe should modify.
And then since suppertime was nigh,
And dinner was before them spread,
The king his place took at the head
Where all his lords the table lined;
And when they all had supped and dined,
To go their ways they did adjourn,
The king then did himself concern
With chastening his brother, who
Through Arrogance elected to
Despise Humility which he
Should rather as praiseworthy see,
And rashly did his king advise
With counsel that was less than wise;
The king that he might him upbraid,
Planned how to make him feel afraid.
It just so happened in those days
According to established ways
A trumpet with fierce sound was blown,
That as the trump of death was known:
And where the king his court maintained
A man who on this trump was trained
Stood ready its dire notes to play;
When some lord with his life must pay,
He’d on this dreadful trumpet blow
Before his gate, that all might know
A punishment of death he’ll see
That by none may retracted be.
The king sent for this trumpeteer
And told him that he should appear
To trumpet at his brother’s gate;
This must he do with no debate,
So by the king’s command he’s bound.
This lord, who heard this storm of sound
That gathered at his gate did know,
That when the trump of death did blow
For him it spelled a certain end:
For help he knew not where to send
But all his friends to come he bade
To tell what woe upon him weighed.
And for the cause they did him press
But he the reason could not guess,
And with foreboding all were filled:
For when a doom of death was willed
And all this dreadful trump did fear,
So from that punishment severe
There was no way he could be saved,
His death could sadly not be waved,
Unless there’s found some way whereby
For his lord’s grace he’ll qualify.
And so their wits they exercised
Till they at last a plan devised.
A worthy wife this lord revered
And filled with grief she also feared
Her lord’s demise, and children five
They had between them born alive,
Of tender age, angelic hair,
With posture fine and visage fair
They were a lovely sight to see.
And so they planned that he and she
The next day with their children, sad
And full of sorrow, only clad
With shift for lass and shirt for lad,
To soften up their sovereign’s heart
Would go and play the beggar’s part
And seek a pardon to obtain.
They passed that woeful night in pain,
And early, when they saw the light,
They went forth, a pathetic sight,
As we depicted heretofore,
All bare but for the shirts they wore.
They wept to think what was in store,
Their hair hung down around their ears;
All sorrowful they were, in tears
This lord walks with dejected gait,
Who once was noble, proud, and great;
This made the city all distressed,
To see how humbly they were dressed:
But nonetheless for all to see
With weeping and with crying he
Forth with his children and his wife
Proceeds to pray to spare his life.
When they unto the court drew near,
And men saw how they did appear,
There was no person in that place,
On seeing them in such disgrace,
Whose eyes from dropping tears could keep.
The king expected they might weep,
But he pretends he nothing knows
And so his men, when he arose,
Advised him what was going on:
And when he heard this thing, anon,
He quickly went into the hall
And all down to the floor did fall,
To see if he would pity show.
The king, who sees them bowing low,
Asks: “What’s the cause of such great fear
That makes you come half-naked here?”
“Have mercy!” did his brother cry,
“I know no other reason why,
Except last night when it was late
Death’s trump was sounding at my gate
Betokening that I should die;
Thus on your mercy we rely
That you my sentence might disclaim.”
“Ha! fool, you’ve but yourself to blame
The king unto his brother said,
“To be so doubting that you’d dread
A simple trumpet’s sounding so
That stripped down through the town you’d go,
You and your wife in such a way
With all your children on display,
In sight of all the people here
Because you say that you’re in fear
Of death, which is by man controlled,
And thus a fate that man may hold,
Such might by man rescinded be.
Now therefore marvel not at me
That from my chariot did I
Come down when I saw standing nigh
Those of such great age that in them
My death to which God does condemn
All men by natures law, I saw,
A doom that he will not withdraw:
And well I know, their fate I’ll share,
For I’m already part way there;
I’m destined, just like them, to die.
And thus, if it is so that I,
A king, that law am subject to,
It’s hard to understand how you,
Who have no reason of this law
To stand in such despairing awe,
Which as it happens is a joke,
That I might very well revoke.
Therefore, my brother, I suggest,
Since it is so that in your breast
There dwells, for mere man, such great fright,
You dread God more with all your might.
For all shall die and all shall pass,
As well a lion as an ass,
As well a beggar as a lord,
They shall tend every one toward
A doom of death.” And in this way
The king with his wise words that day
His brother taught and did forgive.
|Forthi, mi Sone, if thou wolt live
In vertu, thou most vice eschuie,
And with low herte humblesce suie,
So that thou be noght surquidous.
Mi fader, I am amorous,
Wherof I wolde you beseche
That ye me som ensample teche,
Which mihte in loves cause stonde.
Mi Sone, thou schalt understonde,
In love and othre thinges alle
If that Surquiderie falle,
It may to him noght wel betide
Which useth thilke vice of Pride,
Which torneth wisdom to wenynge
And Sothfastnesse into lesynge
Thurgh fol ymaginacion.
And for thin enformacion,
That thou this vice as I the rede
Eschuie schalt, a tale I rede,
Which fell whilom be daies olde,
So as the clerk Ovide tolde.
Therefore, my son, if you would live
In virtue, you must vice eschew,
And have a humble heart, that you
All tendency to Pride deny.
My father, amorous am I,
And therefore I would you beseech
That you might tell some tale to teach
How to love’s cause this vice pertains.
My son, you’ll see on many planes,
In love as well as other things
How Arrogance misfortune brings;
For him who to this vice of Pride
Resorts, will wisdom cast aside,
Then unto wishful thinking turn,
And all the lying arts he’ll learn
From fool imagination vain.
So that you might avoid this bane
And will this deadly vice eschew,
A tale I shall relate to you
About things which, in days of old,
That man of letters, Ovid, told.
|Ther was whilom a lordes Sone,
Which of his Pride a nyce wone
Hath cawht, that worthi to his liche,
To sechen al the worldes riche,
Ther was no womman forto love.
So hihe he sette himselve above
Of stature and of beaute bothe,
That him thoghte alle wommen lothe:
So was ther no comparisoun
As toward his condicioun.
This yonge lord Narcizus hihte:
No strengthe of love bowe mihte
His herte, which is unaffiled;
Bot ate laste he was beguiled:
For of the goddes pourveance
It fell him on a dai par chance,
That he in all his proude fare
Unto the forest gan to fare,
Amonges othre that ther were
To hunte and to desporte him there.
And whanne he cam into the place
Wher that he wolde make his chace,
The houndes weren in a throwe
Uncoupled and the hornes blowe:
The grete hert anon was founde,
Which swifte feet sette upon grounde,
And he with spore in horse side
Him hasteth faste forto ride,
Til alle men be left behinde.
And as he rod, under a linde
Beside a roche, as I thee telle,
He syh wher sprong a lusty welle:
The day was wonder hot withalle,
And such a thurst was on him falle,
That he moste owther deie or drinke;
And doun he lihte and be the brinke
He teide his Hors unto a braunche,
And leide him lowe forto staunche
His thurst: and as he caste his lok
Into the welle and hiede tok,
He sih the like of his visage,
And wende ther were an ymage
Of such a Nimphe as tho was faie,
Wherof that love his herte assaie
Began, as it was after sene,
Of his sotie and made him wene
It were a womman that he syh.
The more he cam the welle nyh,
The nerr cam sche to him ayein;
So wiste he nevere what to sein;
For whanne he wepte, he sih hire wepe,
And whanne he cride, he tok good kepe,
The same word sche cride also:
And thus began the newe wo,
That whilom was to him so strange;
Tho made him love an hard eschange,
To sette his herte and to beginne
Thing which he mihte nevere winne.
And evere among he gan to loute,
And preith that sche to him come oute;
And otherwhile he goth a ferr,
And otherwhile he draweth nerr,
And evere he fond hire in o place.
He wepth, he crith, he axeth grace,
There as he mihte gete non;
So that ayein a Roche of Ston,
As he that knew non other red,
He smot himself til he was ded.
Wherof the Nimphes of the welles,
And othre that ther weren elles
Unto the wodes belongende,
The body, which was ded ligende,
For pure pite that thei have
Under the grene thei begrave.
And thanne out of his sepulture
Ther sprong anon par aventure
Of floures such a wonder syhte,
That men ensample take myhte
Upon the dedes whiche he dede,
As tho was sene in thilke stede;
For in the wynter freysshe and faire
The floures ben, which is contraire
To kynde, and so was the folie
Which fell of his Surquiderie.
Thus he, which love hadde in desdeign,
Worste of all othre was besein,
And as he sette his pris most hyhe,
He was lest worth in loves yhe
And most bejaped in his wit:
Wherof the remembrance is yit,
So that thou myht ensample take,
And ek alle othre for his sake.
One time there was a noble’s son
Whose prideful attitude was one
Of foolishness, that on the earth
There was no woman who was worth
Enough his love to justify.
And thus he set himself so high
Above in standing and in grace,
He’d choose no woman to embrace:
His self love was so very rare
That there were none who could compare.
This young lord was Narcissus called:
By no love could he be enthralled
For inexperienced was he.
But soon love’s countenance he’d see,
For as we see, in God's own way,
As fate would have it, he one day
All dressed up finely with a flair,
He went into the forest where,
With his companions he might play
And with his hounds to search for prey.
And when into the place he came
Where he was wont to hunt for game,
The hounds at once were all untied
As horns did sound on every side.
Anon the mighty deer was found,
Whose feet moved swiftly on the ground,
And with spurs in his horse’s side
Narcissus hasted fast to ride,
Till past all men his steed did stride.
And as he rode, beneath a tree,
Beside a large rock, he did see
Where sprung a pure and pleasant well:
And since the day was hot as hell,
And parched with thirst his throat was dry,
He either had to drink or die;
Dismounting from his horse beside
This pool, his trusty horse he tied
Unto a branch; His thirst to slake
He bent down; as he did partake
He looked and saw reflected there
His visage, at which he did stare.
And to him it did surely seem
A nymph from some enchanted dream,
That called unto his heart with love;
But it was just a product of
His folly that did him compel
To see a woman in this well;
Whenever he the surface nears,
Then closer to him she appears;
And he was at a loss to speak;
For when he wept, tears down her cheek
Did flow, and too, whene’er he spake,
Her mouth the selfsame words did make:
And thus began a novel ache,
That he before had never felt.
Now love to him a hard hand dealt:
For on a thing his heart was set
Which there is no way he could get.
Repeatedly with her he played;
And that she’d come to him he prayed;
When first he far away would flee,
And then draw near, her face would be
Upgazing in the selfsame place.
He weeps, he cries, he pleads for grace,
And yet still finds himself alone;
So he, against a cliff of stone,
Since he frustrated was, his head
Did smite till finally he was dead.
Whereon the well-nymphs who are found
With other spirits who abound
Within these shaded woodlands free,
The body lying there did see,
And 'neath the grass, with pity stirred,
Him they all tenderly interred.
Then from his sepulcher there grew
Flowers of such a brilliant hue
As men had never seen before,
That ne'er might anyone ignore
His singularly twisted love,
Which this place will remind them of;
These flowers fresh and fair will be
In winter, which does not agree
With nature, like the folly of
His prideful Arrogance in love.
Thus he, who love had disavowed,
Of all men was most ill endowed,
And as he set his sights so high,
He was of least worth in love’s eye
And his own wit did him betray:
His story’s told down to this day,
So that you might instructed be,
And others from his follies flee.
|Mi fader, as touchende of me,
This vice I thenke forto fle,
Which of his wenynge overtroweth;
And nameliche of thing which groweth
In loves cause or wel or wo
Yit pryded I me nevere so.
Bot wolde god that grace sende,
That toward me my lady wende
As I towardes hire wene!
Mi love scholde so be sene,
Ther scholde go no pride a place.
Bot I am ferr fro thilke grace,
As forto speke of tyme now;
So mot I soffre, and preie yow
That ye wole axe on other side
If ther be eny point of Pride,
Wherof it nedeth to be schrive.
Mi Sone, godd it thee foryive,
If thou have eny thing misdo
Touchende of this, bot overmo
Ther is an other yit of Pride,
Which nevere cowthe hise wordes hide,
That he ne wole himself avaunte;
Ther mai nothing his tunge daunte,
That he ne clappeth as a Belle:
Wherof if thou wolt that I telle,
It is behovely forto hiere,
So that thou myht thi tunge stiere,
Toward the world and stonde in grace,
Which lacketh ofte in many place
To him that can noght sitte stille,
Which elles scholde have al his wille.
The vice cleped Avantance
With Pride hath take his aqueintance,
So that his oghne pris he lasseth,
When he such mesure overpasseth
That he his oghne Herald is.
That ferst was wel is thanne mis,
That was thankworth is thanne blame,
And thus the worschipe of his name
Thurgh pride of his avantarie
He torneth into vilenie.
I rede how that this proude vice
Hath thilke wynd in his office,
Which thurgh the blastes that he bloweth
The mannes fame he overthroweth
Of vertu, which scholde elles springe
Into the worldes knowlechinge;
Bot he fordoth it alto sore.
And riht of such a maner lore
Ther ben lovers: forthi if thow
Art on of hem, tell and sei how.
Whan thou hast taken eny thing
Of loves yifte, or Nouche or ring,
Or tok upon thee for the cold
Som goodly word that thee was told,
Or frendly chiere or tokne or lettre,
Wherof thin herte was the bettre,
Or that sche sende the grietinge,
Hast thou for Pride of thi likinge
Mad thin avant wher as the liste?
I wolde, fader, that ye wiste,
Mi conscience lith noght hiere:
Yit hadde I nevere such matiere,
Wherof min herte myhte amende,
Noght of so mochel that sche sende
Be mowthe and seide, "Griet him wel:"
And thus for that ther is no diel
Wherof to make myn avant,
It is to reson acordant
That I mai nevere, bot I lye,
Of love make avanterie.
I wot noght what I scholde have do,
If that I hadde encheson so,
As ye have seid hier manyon;
Bot I fond cause nevere non:
Bot daunger, which welnyh me slowh,
Therof I cowthe telle ynowh,
And of non other Avantance:
Thus nedeth me no repentance.
Now axeth furthere of my lif,
For hierof am I noght gultif.
Mi Sone, I am wel paid withal;
For wite it wel in special
That love of his verrai justice
Above alle othre ayein this vice
At alle times most debateth,
With al his herte and most it hateth.
And ek in alle maner wise
Avantarie is to despise,
As be ensample thou myht wite,
Which I finde in the bokes write.
as to the state I’m in,
I think I shall forsake this sin,
O'ertrusting in my thoughts I'll spurn;
Especially when it does concern
Things that make love grow cold or burn.
In my mind such pride has no place,
But I pray God might send me grace,
That as towards her my heart does burn,
My lady’s thoughts to me might turn!
My love no vain pretension knows,
A place where pride finds no repose.
But I am of such grace devoid,
Till now her love I’ve not enjoyed;
So must I suffer, and implore
That you would ask, should there be more
Concerning points of Pride in love,
If there’s one that I’m guilty of.
My son, may God forgiveness grant,
If thine own self doth thee enchant;
There is another specter, though,
That out of pride’s conceit may grow,
Which never can his words restrain,
That from self-praise he might refrain;
His wagging tongue he cannot tame,
And his own virtue not proclaim:
Whereof if you would have me tell,
To hear it would behoove thee well,
So that your tongue you might control,
And let the world your worth extol,
A virtue that one seldom sees,
And which when lacking guarantees
To failure men will be consigned.
The vice called Boasting oft we find
Is in a partnership with Pride,
So that his own worth is denied,
When his self vaunting tongue is loosed
And by himself he’s introduced.
What once was well now goes awry,
To gratitude he’ll say good bye,
And thus the worship of his name
Through prideful boasting turns to shame;
His good name now in shambles lies.
This vice, like wind neath darkened skies
Assaults his reputation and
Through blasts that he cannot withstand
His fame for virtue topples o’er,
Which otherwise had risen more
Within the world’s esteem; but nay
His bragging throws it all away.
In such a mode some lovers get:
So if you’ve reason to regret
Such folly, speak now and confess.
If you’ve received of love’s largesse
Some token, like a ring or pin
Or, for love’s pain that you’ve been in,
A word in kindness spoken, or
A friendly letter causing your
Forlorn unhappy heart to soar,
With sweet and hopeful greetings filled,
Have you from Pride at being thrilled
Let boastful words unwisely flow?
Father I would that you might know,
My guilt lies not in acting so:
I’ve yet to have such fortune where
My heart would heal of its despair,
For from her lips I have not heard
One hopeful or inviting word.
And so since there’s no cause for me
About my love to boastful be,
It’s true, if reason is applied,
That I may not, unless I lied,
Of love make any boastful claim.
I’d not know how to play that game,
If I had some occasion to,
As oft has here been said by you;
To such I never could relate:
Rejection, though, my wracking fate,
Of that I surely know the most;
Of other things I cannot boast.
Inquire more of me, if thou wilt,
But of this thing I have no guilt,
And no repentance need I make.
My son, I’m pleased your word to take;
For of his justice absolute
Know this that love will prosecute
Above all other things this sin,
Which always gives him great chagrin,
And which with all his heart he hates.
Thus boasting is of all Pride’s traits
In every way despised to be,
As from the books you’ll presently
An excellent example see.
|Of hem that we Lombars now calle
Albinus was the ferste of alle
Which bar corone of Lombardie,
And was of gret chivalerie
In werre ayein diverse kinges.
So fell amonges othre thinges,
That he that time a werre hadde
With Gurmond, which the Geptes ladde,
And was a myhti kyng also:
Bot natheles it fell him so,
Albinus slowh him in the feld,
Ther halp him nowther swerd ne scheld,
That he ne smot his hed of thanne,
Wherof he tok awey the Panne,
Of which he seide he wolde make
A Cuppe for Gurmoundes sake,
To kepe and drawe into memoire
Of his bataille the victoire.
And thus whan he the feld hath wonne,
The lond anon was overronne
And sesed in his oghne hond,
Wher he Gurmondes dowhter fond,
Which Maide Rosemounde hihte,
And was in every mannes sihte
A fair, a freissh, a lusti on.
His herte fell to hire anon,
And such a love on hire he caste,
That he hire weddeth ate laste;
And after that long time in reste
With hire he duelte, and to the beste
Thei love ech other wonder wel.
Bot sche which kepth the blinde whel,
Venus, whan thei be most above,
In al the hoteste of here love,
Hire whiel sche torneth, and thei felle
In the manere as I schal telle.
This king, which stod in al his welthe
Of pes, of worschipe and of helthe,
And felte him on no side grieved,
As he that hath his world achieved,
Tho thoghte he wolde a feste make;
And that was for his wyves sake,
That sche the lordes ate feste,
That were obeissant to his heste,
Mai knowe: and so forth therupon
He let ordeine, and sende anon
Be lettres and be messagiers,
And warnede alle hise officiers
That every thing be wel arraied:
The grete Stiedes were assaied
For joustinge and for tornement,
And many a perled garnement
Embroudred was ayein the dai.
The lordes in here beste arrai
Be comen ate time set,
On jousteth wel, an other bet,
And otherwhile thei torneie,
And thus thei casten care aweie
And token lustes upon honde.
And after, thou schalt understonde,
To mete into the kinges halle
Thei come, as thei be beden alle:
And whan thei were set and served,
Thanne after, as it was deserved,
To hem that worthi knyhtes were,
So as thei seten hiere and there,
The pris was yove and spoken oute
Among the heraldz al aboute.
And thus benethe and ek above
Al was of armes and of love,
Wherof abouten ate bordes
Men hadde manye sondri wordes,
That of the merthe which thei made
The king himself began to glade
Withinne his herte and tok a pride,
And sih the Cuppe stonde aside,
Which mad was of Gurmoundes hed,
As ye have herd, whan he was ded,
And was with gold and riche Stones
Beset and bounde for the nones,
And stod upon a fot on heihte
Of burned gold, and with gret sleihte
Of werkmanschipe it was begrave
Of such werk as it scholde have,
And was policed ek so clene
That no signe of the Skulle is sene,
Bot as it were a Gripes Ey.
The king bad bere his Cuppe awey,
Which stod tofore him on the bord,
And fette thilke. Upon his word
This Skulle is fet and wyn therinne,
Wherof he bad his wif beginne:
"Drink with thi fader, Dame," he seide.
And sche to his biddinge obeide,
And tok the Skulle, and what hire liste
Sche drank, as sche which nothing wiste
What Cuppe it was: and thanne al oute
The kyng in audience aboute
Hath told it was hire fader Skulle,
So that the lordes knowe schulle
Of his bataille a soth witnesse,
And made avant thurgh what prouesse
He hath his wyves love wonne,
Which of the Skulle hath so begonne.
Tho was ther mochel Pride alofte,
Thei speken alle, and sche was softe,
Thenkende on thilke unkynde Pride,
Of that hire lord so nyh hire side
Avanteth him that he hath slain
And piked out hire fader brain,
And of the Skulle had mad a Cuppe.
Sche soffreth al til thei were uppe,
And tho sche hath seknesse feigned,
And goth to chambre and hath compleigned
Unto a Maide which sche triste,
So that non other wyht it wiste.
This Mayde Glodeside is hote,
To whom this lady hath behote
Of ladischipe al that sche can,
To vengen hire upon this man,
Which dede hire drinke in such a plit
Among hem alle for despit
Of hire and of hire fader bothe;
Wherof hire thoghtes ben so wrothe,
Sche seith, that sche schal noght be glad,
Til that sche se him so bestad
That he nomore make avant.
And thus thei felle in covenant,
That thei acorden ate laste,
With suche wiles as thei caste
That thei wol gete of here acord
Som orped knyht to sle this lord:
And with this sleihte thei beginne,
How thei Helmege myhten winne,
Which was the kinges Boteler,
A proud a lusti Bacheler,
And Glodeside he loveth hote.
And sche, to make him more assote,
Hire love granteth, and be nyhte
Thei schape how thei togedre myhte
Abedde meete: and don it was
This same nyht; and in this cas
The qwene hirself the nyht secounde
Wente in hire stede, and there hath founde
A chambre derk withoute liht,
And goth to bedde to this knyht.
And he, to kepe his observance,
To love doth his obeissance,
And weneth it be Glodeside;
And sche thanne after lay aside,
And axeth him what he hath do,
And who sche was sche tolde him tho,
And seide: "Helmege, I am thi qwene,
Now schal thi love wel be sene
Of that thou hast thi wille wroght:
Or it schal sore ben aboght,
Or thou schalt worche as I thee seie.
And if thou wolt be such a weie
Do my plesance and holde it stille,
For evere I schal ben at thi wille,
Bothe I and al myn heritage."
Anon the wylde loves rage,
In which noman him can governe,
Hath mad him that he can noght werne,
Bot fell al hol to hire assent:
And thus the whiel is al miswent,
The which fortune hath upon honde;
For how that evere it after stonde,
Thei schope among hem such a wyle,
The king was ded withinne a whyle.
So slihly cam it noght aboute
That thei ne ben descoevered oute,
So that it thoghte hem for the beste
To fle, for there was no reste:
And thus the tresor of the king
Thei trusse and mochel other thing,
And with a certein felaschipe
Thei fledde and wente awey be schipe,
And hielde here rihte cours fro thenne,
Til that thei come to Ravenne,
Wher thei the Dukes helpe soghte.
And he, so as thei him besoghte,
A place granteth forto duelle;
Bot after, whan he herde telle
Of the manere how thei have do,
This Duk let schape for hem so,
That of a puison which thei drunke
Thei hadden that thei have beswunke.
And al this made avant of Pride:
Good is therfore a man to hide
His oghne pris, for if he speke,
He mai lihtliche his thonk tobreke.
In armes lith non avantance
To him which thenkth his name avance
And be renomed of his dede:
And also who that thenkth to spede
Of love, he mai him noght avaunte;
For what man thilke vice haunte,
His pourpos schal fulofte faile.
In armes he that wol travaile
Or elles loves grace atteigne,
His lose tunge he mot restreigne,
Which berth of his honour the keie.
Forthi, my Sone, in alle weie
Tak riht good hiede of this matiere.
|Of those whom we Lombards now call
Albinus was the first of all
Lombardy’s royal crown to wear;
He fought with prowess famed and rare
As with great kings he did contend.
While he his kingdom did defend,
He fought, inspiring awful dread,
With Gurmond, who the Gepids led.
Though he a mighty king was too,
He was one that Albinus slew
As in the battlefield they fought:
His sword and shield availed him not;
His head Abinus off did cleave
And with his cranium did leave,
From which a gruesome cup he made
In token of Gurmond, displayed
That no one would forget how he
In battle won the victory.
Thus when he’d vanquished all his foe,
Throughout that country he did go
And as its ruler he was crowned;
The daughter of Gurmond he found,
And Rosemond this maid was called.
All men were at her sight enthralled,
A fair, a fresh, a lusty one.
Eftsoons by her his heart was won,
And such a love on her he cast
That her he took to wife at last.
And after that at peace they dwelt
As each one for the other felt
A love that very few do feel.
But she who keeps that sightless wheel,
Venus, when their love’s at its height,
With all their passions burning bright,
Her wheel she turns, and down they fell;
How that could be I now shall tell.
This king abundant peace did know;
Towards him all did honor show,
And in no way was he aggrieved
For all things had he now achieved.
And so a feast he thought he’d make
Which he’d put on for his wife’s sake,
That all the lords might be on hand,
Who did submit to his command,
And meet his wife: so thereupon
His messengers he sent anon
With invitations through the land,
And all his men he did command
That they all things should well prepare:
They readied steeds for this affair
All fitted out in fine array
With pearl studded garments they
Did have embroidered for the day.
The lords came at the time required
All in their finest gear attired:
In jousting some fell to the ground,
But sometimes they just played around,
All care and worry they did shun
And wiled the hours away in fun.
And after, came they one and all
To meet the king within his hall
As he had bidden them to do:
When with the meal they all were through,
Then those who most deserving were,
Among these knights addressed as “Sir”
Who sat all scattered through the crowd,
Were honored with awards, as loud
The heralds did their deeds proclaim.
Thus high and low together came;
Good will did everywhere abound,
And at the tables all around
Much animated talk was heard,
So that the king himself was stirred
Within his heart to thoughts of pride
That made him feel self satisfied,
Especially as the cup he spied
Which he’d had made from Gurmond’s head,
As you have heard, when he was dead,
Which gilded was and set with jewels
For times like this when revel rules,
And stood upon a base upraised
Of shining gold, that was appraised
As being graven with great skill
Most fittingly, and polished till
It was so shiny and so clean
That no sign of the skull is seen,
A griffin’s egg it seemed to be
The cup the king was using he
Had taken from his table and
The skull was fetched. At his command
Therein was poured the finest wine,
And then he bade his wife to dine:
“Drink with thy father, Dame,” said he,
And at her lord’s direction she
Did raise the skull unto her lips,
Aware not of from what she sips:
And then, his triumph to delclare,
The king to those assembled there
Revealed it was her father’s pate,
So that the lords might know how great
His victory, by this vanquished lid,
And boasted loudly how he did
His wife’s love through his prowess win,
Which all did with the skull begin.
Whereof much Prideful talk ensued;
They all spoke, but she was subdued,
Reflecting on such unkind Pride,
That made her lord so near her side
Boast of himself that he had slain
Her father and picked out his brain,
And of the skull had made a cup.
This she endured till all got up,
And then a sickness she did feign,
And in her chamber did complain
Unto a maid she trusted well
Who never would a secret tell.
This maid called Glodeside unto
Her ladyship a promise true
Did make that all she could she’d do,
To help wreak vengeance on this man,
Who bade that from her dad’s brainpan
She drink among them all to shame
Her and as well her father’s name;
For this her thoughts were so irate,
She said that she could hardly wait,
Until his mouth was shut by men
So that he’d never boast again.
And thus a covenant they made,
Upon which they agreed, and laid
A cunning plan to get their way
By which some valiant knight they may
Persuade this boasting lord to slay:
So with deceit they both begin
To try Helmege’s help to win,
With whom the king his wine did trust,
A bachelor who, filled with lust,
Did have the hots for Glodeside.
And she, to get him on their side,
Did grant her love, and thus a way
They found to meet at night and lay
In bed together: so ‘twas done
That very night; and then the fun
Begins, for on the second night
Within a room devoid of light,
To bed this knight the queen did go,
Instead of Glodeside, and he,
As was the code of chivalry
Obedience did pledge because
It’s Glodeside he thought she was;
And after she this pledge had won,
She asked: “Do you know what you’ve done?”
Her false identity she shed;
”Helmege, I am thy queen,” she said,
Now shall that love thy will has wrought
Be tested well; it shall be bought
By grievous punishment unless
Unto my will you acquiesce.
And if in this way you shall do
My pleasure and to me be true,
At your disposal lies my throne,
Both I and everything I own.”
At once love’s passion took its toll,
That wild rage no man can control,
And made him helpless to refuse,
A captive servant of her ruse:
And thus the wheel in Fortune’s hand
Went all awry at her command;
With disregard for consequence,
A cunning plot they did commence
And in a while the king was dead.
Since they had not so sly tread,
That they'd not be found out, instead
They thought it would be best to flee,
For there no rest would these two see:
And thus the treasure of the king
They loaded up, with them to bring,
Then with an entourage they fled
And in a ship away they sped;
A beeline did they make therefrom
Till to Ravenna they did come,
Where they the duke’s assistance sought.
And seeing how they were distraught,
He granted them a place to stay;
But later, when he heard how they
So cunning and deceitful were,
A deadly poison he did stir,
And when this drink to them he served
They got the rest that they deserved!
All this from boastful Pride did come:
So it is well if men do from
Self praising rhetoric refrain,
Or else their quest may be in vain
For glory. Arms are of no worth
To him who seeks throughout the earth
To glorify his deeds and name.
And he who victory would claim
In love, must boastful pride forswear;
Who practices this vice prepare
To see all undertakings fail.
Who in heroics would prevail
Or who in love would grace attain,
His wagging tongue he must restrain,
Which to his honor holds the key.
Therefore, my son, be sure to see
And heed the truth this tale makes clear.
|I thonke you, my fader diere,
This scole is of a gentil lore;
And if ther be oght elles more
Of Pride, which I schal eschuie,
Now axeth forth, and I wol suie
What thing that ye me wole enforme.
Mi Sone, yit in other forme
Ther is a vice of Prides lore,
Which lich an hauk whan he wol sore,
Fleith upon heihte in his delices
After the likynge of his vices,
And wol no mannes resoun knowe,
Till he doun falle and overthrowe.
This vice veine gloire is hote,
Wherof, my Sone, I thee behote
To trete and speke in such a wise,
That thou thee myht the betre avise.
The proude vice of veine gloire
Remembreth noght of purgatoire,
Hise worldes joyes ben so grete,
Him thenkth of hevene no beyete;
This lives Pompe is al his pes:
Yit schal he deie natheles,
And therof thenkth he bot a lite,
For al his lust is to delite
In newe thinges, proude and veine,
Als ferforth as he mai atteigne.
I trowe, if that he myhte make
His body newe, he wolde take
A newe forme and leve his olde:
For what thing that he mai beholde,
The which to comun us is strange,
Anon his olde guise change
He wole and falle therupon,
Lich unto the Camelion,
Which upon every sondri hewe
That he beholt he moste newe
His colour, and thus unavised
Fulofte time he stant desguised.
Mor jolif than the brid in Maii
He makth him evere freissh and gay,
And doth al his array desguise,
So that of him the newe guise
Of lusti folk alle othre take;
And ek he can carolles make,
Rondeal, balade and virelai.
And with al this, if that he may
Of love gete him avantage,
Anon he wext of his corage
So overglad, that of his ende
Him thenkth ther is no deth comende:
For he hath thanne at alle tide
Of love such a maner pride,
Him thenkth his joie is endeles.
Now schrif thee, Sone, in godes pes,
And of thi love tell me plein
If that thi gloire hath be so vein.
Mi fader, as touchinge of al
I may noght wel ne noght ne schal
Of veine gloire excuse me,
That I ne have for love be
The betre adresced and arraied;
And also I have ofte assaied
Rondeal, balade and virelai
For hire on whom myn herte lai
To make, and also forto peinte
Caroles with my wordes qweinte,
To sette my pourpos alofte;
And thus I sang hem forth fulofte
In halle and ek in chambre aboute,
And made merie among the route,
Bot yit ne ferde I noght the bet.
Thus was my gloire in vein beset
Of al the joie that I made;
For whanne I wolde with hire glade,
And of hire love songes make,
Sche saide it was noght for hir sake,
And liste noght my songes hiere
Ne witen what the wordes were.
So forto speke of myn arrai,
Yit couthe I nevere be so gay
Ne so wel make a songe of love,
Wherof I myhte ben above
And have encheson to be glad;
Bot rathere I am ofte adrad
For sorwe that sche seith me nay.
And natheles I wol noght say,
That I nam glad on other side;
For fame, that can nothing hide,
Alday wol bringe unto myn Ere
Of that men speken hier and there,
How that my ladi berth the pris,
How sche is fair, how sche is wis,
How sche is wommanlich of chiere;
Of al this thing whanne I mai hiere,
What wonder is thogh I be fain?
And ek whanne I may hiere sain
Tidinges of my ladi hele,
Althogh I may noght with hir dele,
Yit am I wonder glad of that;
For whanne I wot hire good astat,
As for that time I dar wel swere,
Non other sorwe mai me dere,
Thus am I gladed in this wise.
Bot, fader, of youre lores wise,
Of whiche ye be fully tawht,
Now tell me if yow thenketh awht
That I therof am forto wyte.
Of that ther is I thee acquite,
Mi sone, he seide, and for thi goode
I wolde that thou understode:
For I thenke upon this matiere
To telle a tale, as thou schalt hiere,
How that ayein this proude vice
The hihe god of his justice
Is wroth and gret vengance doth.
Now herkne a tale that is soth:
Thogh it be noght of loves kinde,
A gret ensample thou schalt finde
This veine gloire forto fle,
Which is so full of vanite.
I give you thanks, my father dear,
Your counsel is most excellent;
And if there’s more that’s relevant
To Pride, that you think I should shun,
Go on and ask, and what I’ve done
Concerning such I shall confess.
My son, there is one other dress
This vice of Pride is clothed in oft,
Which like a hawk who’d soar aloft,
Flies so high out of sheer delight
Enjoying reckless unwise flight,
That his unreasoned bliss is brief,
For down he falls and comes to grief.
Vainglory is this vice’s name,
Concerning which it is my aim,
A story of this vice to tell,
That you might understand it well
That vice vainglory called we find
Sin’s punishment keeps not in mind;
With worldly joys in great amount,
He thinks that heaven’s of no account:
This life’s pomp is what gives him peace.
Yet soon enough his life will cease,
But little does he think on this,
For all that gives him shallow bliss
Are new things for his vain desire,
As many as he may acquire.
I do believe, if he could make
His very body new, he’d take
A new form, and discard his old!
If some new fashion he’ll behold,
Which would to common use seem strange,
His old appearance he will change
To stand out from all other men,
Like a chameleon, which when
He looks on every sundry hue
His former color must renew;
Thus without thinking often he
Ridiculously dressed will be.
More pretty than the birds in May
He makes himself all freshly gay,
And does all of his garb transform,
So that his look becomes the norm
To which all other men conform;
With song the girls he can amaze,
Ballads, rondeaux, and virelays.
And if with all these thing he may
In love’s adventures get his way,
Of his heart’s might he is so sure,
He thinks his life is so secure,
That for him there will be no death:
In pride unbounded, with each breath
He takes, he’ll foolishly pretend
That he will have joy without end.
That God may mend, now son confess,
And tell me if you have been less
Than chivalrous your love to win.
My father, as for this great sin
I may not, and I will not try
To give excuses nor deny,
That I for love have vainly been
Adorned and dressed to my chagrin:
And oft my voice I’ve tried to raise
In ballads, rounds, and virelays
For her who sets my heart ablaze,
And also tried my songs to paint
With clever words and phrases quaint,
That with her I might have a chance;
And thus around I’d often dance
In halls and chambers singing loud,
And merry make with all the crowd,
But still I luckless did remain.
Thus was my glorying in vain
In spite of all my gaiety;
For when I glad with her would be,
And for her, love songs I would make,
She’d say it was not for her sake,
That of my songs she’d take no note
Nor of the lyrics that I wrote.
So as for all my fine array,
I never could be quite so gay
Nor make a song of love so well
That I misfortune might dispel
And chance to feel a little cheer;
But rather I am oft in fear
That what she’ll say to me is nay.
And nonetheless I would not say,
That I’m not glad of other things;
For tidings rumor always brings
A welcome message to my ears,
That on the tongues of men one hears,
Of how my lady takes the prize,
How fair she is, how good, how wise,
How womanly her countenance;
And hearing of her elegance,
It is no wonder that I’m glad.
And when I hear, if I may add,
That in the best of health is she,
Although with her I cannot be,
Yet does my heart with gladness swell;
For when I know that she is well,
In such times I can truly say,
No other sorrows plague me, nay
I’m rather gladdened at the thought.
But, father, from your teachings fraught
With wisdom, won’t you please disclose,
If you in any way suppose
That in this sin I have transgressed.
Of those small things you have confessed,
My son, I pardon you; and for
Your good I think I’ll give you more
To ponder, for to you I’d tell
Another tale, so listen well,
And learn how this cursed vice of Pride
The mighty God will not abide
But in his anger vengeance take.
This tale is true, although a break
From those you’ve heard that deal with love,
Wherein there is a lesson of
Vainglory, from which you should flee,
That sin so full of vanity,”
|Ther was a king that mochel myhte,
Which Nabugodonosor hihte,
Of whom that I spak hier tofore.
Yit in the bible his name is bore,
For al the world in Orient
Was hol at his comandement:
As thanne of kinges to his liche
Was non so myhty ne so riche;
To his Empire and to his lawes,
As who seith, alle in thilke dawes
Were obeissant and tribut bere,
As thogh he godd of Erthe were.
With strengthe he putte kinges under,
And wroghte of Pride many a wonder;
He was so full of veine gloire,
That he ne hadde no memoire
That ther was eny good bot he,
For pride of his prosperite;
Til that the hihe king of kinges,
Which seth and knoweth alle thinges,
Whos yhe mai nothing asterte,-
The privetes of mannes herte
Thei speke and sounen in his Ere
As thogh thei lowde wyndes were,-
He tok vengance upon this pride.
Bot for he wolde awhile abide
To loke if he him wolde amende,
To him a foretokne he sende,
And that was in his slep be nyhte.
This proude kyng a wonder syhte
Hadde in his swevene, ther he lay:
Him thoghte, upon a merie day
As he behield the world aboute,
A tree fulgrowe he syh theroute,
Which stod the world amiddes evene,
Whos heihte straghte up to the hevene;
The leves weren faire and large,
Of fruit it bar so ripe a charge,
That alle men it myhte fede:
He sih also the bowes spriede
Above al Erthe, in whiche were
The kinde of alle briddes there;
And eke him thoghte he syh also
The kinde of alle bestes go
Under this tre aboute round
And fedden hem upon the ground.
As he this wonder stod and syh,
Him thoghte he herde a vois on hih
Criende, and seide aboven alle:
"Hew doun this tree and lett it falle,
The leves let defoule in haste
And do the fruit destruie and waste,
And let of schreden every braunche,
Bot ate Rote let it staunche.
Whan al his Pride is cast to grounde,
The rote schal be faste bounde,
And schal no mannes herte bere,
Bot every lust he schal forbere
Of man, and lich an Oxe his mete
Of gras he schal pourchace and ete,
Til that the water of the hevene
Have waisshen him be times sevene,
So that he be thurghknowe ariht
What is the heveneliche myht,
And be mad humble to the wille
Of him which al mai save and spille."
This king out of his swefne abreide,
And he upon the morwe it seide
Unto the clerkes whiche he hadde:
Bot non of hem the sothe aradde,
Was non his swevene cowthe undo.
And it stod thilke time so,
This king hadde in subjeccioun
Judee, and of affeccioun
Above alle othre on Daniel
He loveth, for he cowthe wel
Divine that non other cowthe:
To him were alle thinges cowthe,
As he it hadde of goddes grace.
He was before the kinges face
Asent, and bode that he scholde
Upon the point the king of tolde
The fortune of his swevene expounde,
As it scholde afterward be founde.
Whan Daniel this swevene herde,
He stod long time er he ansuerde,
And made a wonder hevy chiere.
The king tok hiede of his manere,
And bad him telle that he wiste,
As he to whom he mochel triste,
And seide he wolde noght be wroth.
Bot Daniel was wonder loth,
And seide: "Upon thi fomen alle,
Sire king, thi swevene mote falle;
And natheles touchende of this
I wol the tellen how it is,
And what desese is to thee schape:
God wot if thou it schalt ascape.
The hihe tree, which thou hast sein
With lef and fruit so wel besein,
The which stod in the world amiddes,
So that the bestes and the briddes
Governed were of him al one,
Sire king, betokneth thi persone,
Which stant above all erthli thinges.
Thus regnen under the the kinges,
And al the poeple unto thee louteth,
And al the world thi pouer doubteth,
So that with vein honour deceived
Thou hast the reverence weyved
Fro him which is thi king above,
That thou for drede ne for love
Wolt nothing knowen of thi godd;
Which now for thee hath mad a rodd,
Thi veine gloire and thi folie
With grete peines to chastie.
And of the vois thou herdest speke,
Which bad the bowes forto breke
And hewe and felle doun the tree,
That word belongeth unto thee;
Thi regne schal ben overthrowe,
And thou despuiled for a throwe:
Bot that the Rote scholde stonde,
Be that thou schalt wel understonde,
Ther schal abyden of thi regne
A time ayein whan thou schalt regne.
And ek of that thou herdest seie,
To take a mannes herte aweie
And sette there a bestial,
So that he lich an Oxe schal
Pasture, and that he be bereined
Be times sefne and sore peined,
Til that he knowe his goddes mihtes,
Than scholde he stonde ayein uprihtes,-
Al this betokneth thin astat,
Which now with god is in debat:
Thi mannes forme schal be lassed,
Til sevene yer ben overpassed,
And in the liknesse of a beste
Of gras schal be thi real feste,
The weder schal upon thee reine.
And understond that al this peine,
Which thou schalt soffre thilke tide,
Is schape al only for thi pride
Of veine gloire, and of the sinne
Which thou hast longe stonden inne.
So upon this condicioun
Thi swevene hath exposicioun.
Bot er this thing befalle in dede,
Amende thee, this wolde I rede:
Yif and departe thin almesse,
Do mercy forth with rihtwisnesse,
Besech and prei the hihe grace,
For so thou myht thi pes pourchace
With godd, and stonde in good acord."
Bot Pride is loth to leve his lord,
And wol noght soffre humilite
With him to stonde in no degree;
And whan a schip hath lost his stiere,
Is non so wys that mai him stiere
Ayein the wawes in a rage.
This proude king in his corage
Humilite hath so forlore,
That for no swevene he sih tofore,
Ne yit for al that Daniel
Him hath conseiled everydel,
He let it passe out of his mynde,
Thurgh veine gloire, and as the blinde,
He seth no weie, er him be wo.
And fell withinne a time so,
As he in Babiloine wente,
The vanite of Pride him hente;
His herte aros of veine gloire,
So that he drowh into memoire
His lordschipe and his regalie
With wordes of Surquiderie.
And whan that he him most avaunteth,
That lord which veine gloire daunteth,
Al sodeinliche, as who seith treis,
Wher that he stod in his Paleis,
He tok him fro the mennes sihte:
Was non of hem so war that mihte
Sette yhe wher that he becom.
And thus was he from his kingdom
Into the wilde Forest drawe,
Wher that the myhti goddes lawe
Thurgh his pouer dede him transforme
Fro man into a bestes forme;
And lich an Oxe under the fot
He graseth, as he nedes mot,
To geten him his lives fode.
Tho thoghte him colde grases goode,
That whilom eet the hote spices,
Thus was he torned fro delices:
The wyn which he was wont to drinke
He tok thanne of the welles brinke
Or of the pet or of the slowh,
It thoghte him thanne good ynowh:
In stede of chambres wel arraied
He was thanne of a buissh wel paied,
The harde ground he lay upon,
For othre pilwes hath he non;
The stormes and the Reines falle,
The wyndes blowe upon him alle,
He was tormented day and nyht,
Such was the hihe goddes myht,
Til sevene yer an ende toke.
Upon himself tho gan he loke;
In stede of mete gras and stres,
In stede of handes longe cles,
In stede of man a bestes lyke
He syh; and thanne he gan to syke
For cloth of gold and for perrie,
Which him was wont to magnefie.
Whan he behield his Cote of heres,
He wepte and with fulwoful teres
Up to the hevene he caste his chiere
Wepende, and thoghte in this manere;
Thogh he no wordes myhte winne,
Thus seide his herte and spak withinne:
"O mihti godd, that al hast wroght
And al myht bringe ayein to noght,
Now knowe I wel, bot al of thee,
This world hath no prosperite:
In thin aspect ben alle liche,
The povere man and ek the riche,
Withoute thee ther mai no wight,
And thou above alle othre miht.
O mihti lord, toward my vice
Thi merci medle with justice;
And I woll make a covenant,
That of my lif the remenant
I schal it be thi grace amende,
And in thi lawe so despende
That veine gloire I schal eschuie,
And bowe unto thin heste and suie
Humilite, and that I vowe."
And so thenkende he gan doun bowe,
And thogh him lacke vois and speche,
He gan up with his feet areche,
And wailende in his bestly stevene
He made his pleignte unto the hevene.
He kneleth in his wise and braieth,
To seche merci and assaieth
His god, which made him nothing strange,
Whan that he sih his pride change.
Anon as he was humble and tame,
He fond toward his god the same,
And in a twinklinge of a lok
His mannes forme ayein he tok,
And was reformed to the regne
In which that he was wont to regne;
So that the Pride of veine gloire
Evere afterward out of memoire
He let it passe. And thus is schewed
What is to ben of Pride unthewed
Ayein the hihe goddes lawe,
To whom noman mai be felawe.
|There was a mighty king whose name
Was Nebuchadnezzar; He’s the same
Of whom I heretofore have told.
His fame in Scripture is extolled;
O’er all the orient he reigned;
Unchallenged power he maintained:
No other king in all the east
Approached his lucre in the least;
To his empire and laws it’s said
All of his subjects bowed in dread
As there of tribute was no dearth,
As though he was the god of earth.
At his hand many monarchs died;
He many wonders wrought from Pride;
Vainglorious pomp and show he sought,
So that he had no other thought
Than how he was the best of all,
His pride thus sets him up to fall;
For then that king of kings on high,
Who all things knows, and from whose eye
There’s nothing that a man can hide –
The private things he feels inside
They speak and in His ear they sound,
And like the loudest winds resound –
For pride a fall He did prepare.
But first a while He would forbear
To see if sin he would forswear,
A little preview He’d provide,
At night when he to sleep did slide.
So as he slept, this prideful king
Did see a strange and wondrous thing:
He thought he saw, on one fine day,
As all the earth he did survey,
A tree that in the center seemed
Of all the world, and as he dreamed,
It’s height to heaven stretched, with leaves
Both large and lovely; he perceives
That such a crop of fruit it bore
That it would feed the world and more:
He also sees its boughs spread wide
Above the earth, on which he spied
All kinds of birds that nested there;
And too, at this sight he did stare:
All kinds of beasts from everywhere
Beneath this shady tree had stopped,
All feeding on the fruit that dropped.
And as he took this wonder in,
He heard a voice on high begin
To cry, and say, loud as can be:
“Now go hew down this mighty tree,
And strip off all the leaves in haste
And let the fruit all go to waste,
Then let the branches off be hacked,
But let the root be left intact.
When its Pride’s all cast to the ground,
Then let the root be tightly bound,
That nourishment may no man find,
But every lust be left behind
And like a grazing ox he will
Subsist on only grass until
Eudoxian spheres have seven times
Cleansed him of all his Prideful crimes,
So he without a doubt may see
The might of heaven with certainty,
And humbly bow unto the will
Of Him who all can save or kill.”
This king did from his dream awake,
And an account of it did make
Unto his clerks with no success:
For none of them the truth could guess
Nor tell him what his vision meant.
So like this for some time it went;
This king Judea did control
And as for things dear to his soul
He Daniel loved more than all men,
For nothing was beyond his ken
As far as visions were concerned:
From him all secrets could be learned,
As with God’s favor he was fraught.
Before the king’s face he was brought,
And what the king’s dream did contain
That to the future did pertain
He was expected to expound
As it should afterwards be found.
When Daniel this whole vision heard,
It was a while before a word
He spoke, with countenance most grim.
And then he king took heed of him
And bid him tell all that he knows,
For in him does all trust repose,
And says he will not angry be.
But Daniel balked, and thus said he:
“Oh king, if only would this dream
Befall those who against thee scheme;
But as for that which it encodes
I’ll tell you briefly what it bodes,
By way of worry and of woes:
If you’ll escape God only knows.
That tree you saw, which grew so high
With leaves and fruit in great supply,
That stood betwixt the west and east,
So every bird and every beast
Were by this one regime policed,
Oh king, your person represents,
Who rules o’er all this world’s events.
Thus all kings unto thee kowtow,
And all the people to thee bow,
And all the world thy power fears,
So with vain honor disappears
All of thy reverence and thy love
For Him who is thy king above,
That you for neither love nor fear
Will know your God and Him revere;
Which now a rod for you hath made,
That your vainglorious charade
Shall make you with great torment shake.
And of that voice on high that spake
And off that tree's high wide boughs broke
Which tumbled down at one fell stroke,
It has a message meant for thee;
Your reign all overthrown shall be,
And you stripped for a time of might,
The root though will endure all right.
By this know that there shall remain
A part enduring of your reign
So that you shall your rule regain.
And also what you have heard said –
To take a man’s heart and instead
To set a beast’s heart in its place,
So that he’ll pasture in disgrace,
And seven times be rained upon
Till many griefs he’s undergone,
And learns full well his Master’s might,
Then shall he stand again upright –
This your condition signifies,
Which in the face of God now flies:
Your stature as a man shall be
Reduced, till seven years you see
Go by, wherein just like a beast
Of grass shall be your royal feast,
The clouds shall rain upon you pour.
And what is all this torment for?
It’s meant to cut you to the quick;
It’s purpose is your pride to prick
And your vain glory to chastise,
That sin which heaven’s help denies.
Thus to me have all things unknown
Pertaining to your dream been shown.
God shall you to this fate consign,
Lest you repent; this I divine:
Distribute alms, and mercy show;
Henceforth in righteous pathways go,
And pray for grace from God on high,
For thus from Him your peace you’ll buy
And for you shall God’s grace be gained.”
But this lord’s Pride is so ingrained,
Humility he’ll not allow
That he unto God’s will might bow;
Just like a ship whose rudder’s lost,
That is upon the tempest tossed
And no one can a safe course chart,
So this proud king within his heart
Has for humility no place,
So that this dream of his disgrace,
And all that Daniel did advise
On every point with counsel wise,
He let it pass out of his mind
Through glory vain, and like the blind,
The harm ahead he cannot see.
And in a while it came to be,
As he through Babylon did pass,
He did to Pride succumb; alas,
Vainglory in his heart arose,
Awareness of his status grows
Within his mind where stand allied
Words both of Arrogance and Pride.
And when that pride was at its peak,
That lord who makes the vain man meek,
As quick as one can count to three,
Did snatch him from the place where he
Within his palace stood, so fast
That in the crowd which stood aghast
No eyes could note where he had gone.
He from his kingdom was, anon,
Into the untamed forest drawn,
Where through God’s mighty power he
Was transformed by divine decree
Into the likeness of a beast;
And like an ox he’s forced to feast
Upon the grass his food to get,
And save his life from hunger’s threat.
Soon he did see the grass as nice,
Who once partook of pungent spice.
Thus was he weaned from pleasures vain:
His cup which wine did once contain
Was filled with water nigh unfit,
From well or slough or muddy pit,
Which he regarded good enough.
Instead of chambers full of stuff
A bush well pleased him, on the rough
Hard ground he was content to lay,
For had he other pillows? Nay;
The stormy rains upon him fell
And rude rough winds did pound him well,
He was tormented night and day
God’s mighty power to display,
Until the seven years were passed.
Then on his state his gaze he cast;
He saw not meat, but grass and straw,
And hooves instead of hands he saw,
He saw a beast and not a man
And then to hunger, he began,
For precious gems and cloth of gold,
Which of his majesty once told.
When he his coat of hair beheld,
In his eyes woeful teardrops welled.
Weeping, up unto heav’n he turns
His glance and thinks on these concerns;
And though for words his tongue is tied,
Thus said his heart which spoke inside:
“O mighty God, who all things made
And all might cause again to fade,
Now know I well that, but for Thee,
This world has no prosperity:
All men are equal in Thy sight,
The poor and those with power and might;
Without Thee could no creatures be;
Before Thee all must bow the knee.
Lord if my faults and flaws are fixed
Let justice be with mercy mixed;
And I this covenant will make
That by Thy grace I shall forsake
My folly while I still have breath,
And in Thy law I’ll walk, till death;
Vainglory I shall put away,
All Thy commandments I’ll obey,
To show humility I vow.”
Thus thinking he began to bow;
He could not speak but only bleat
He rolled and raised up high his feet,
And with his voice in beastly guise
To God with his lament he cries.
And then with braying down he kneels,
To seek for mercy; his appeals
To God are not ignored when He
Perceives that to humility
His prideful attitude was tamed;
He felt that God had him reclaimed,
And in the twinkling of a look
He once again a man’s form took;
To his dominion he’s restored
In which he reigned as king and lord;
So that vainglory he forsook
And never once did backward look,
But let it go. And thus we learn
That if in sin away we turn
From God’s law, we cannot abide
His fellowship when steeped in Pride.
|Forthi, my Sone, tak good hiede
So forto lede thi manhiede,
That thou ne be noght lich a beste.
Bot if thi lif schal ben honeste,
Thou most humblesce take on honde,
For thanne myht thou siker stonde:
And forto speke it otherwise,
A proud man can no love assise;
For thogh a womman wolde him plese,
His Pride can noght ben at ese.
Ther mai noman to mochel blame
A vice which is forto blame;
Forthi men scholde nothing hide
That mihte falle in blame of Pride,
Which is the werste vice of alle:
Wherof, so as it was befalle,
The tale I thenke of a Cronique
To telle, if that it mai thee like,
So that thou myht humblesce suie
And ek the vice of Pride eschuie,
Wherof the gloire is fals and vein;
Which god himself hath in desdeign,
That thogh it mounte for a throwe,
It schal doun falle and overthrowe.
And therefore take good heed my son
That being like a beast you shun,
And your behavior govern well.
For if in virtue you’d excel,
Humility must in you dwell,
And then from safety you’ll not stray.
To put it in another way,
A proud man can no love secure;
For though a woman would him lure,
His pleasure will his pride preclude.
A vice with so much blame imbued
A man would do well to despise;
So when it comes to sin it’s wise
That men should into Pride not fall,
The very worst vice of them all:
Concerning which there comes to mind
A tale that I would be inclined
To tell, if you would like to hear,
To cause a person to revere
Humility, and Pride disdain,
A vice whose glory’s false and vain;
Which God views as the sin of sins,
Making a man believe he wins,
Just when his bitter fall begins.
|A king whilom was yong and wys,
The which sette of his wit gret pris.
Of depe ymaginaciouns
And strange interpretaciouns,
Problemes and demandes eke,
His wisdom was to finde and seke;
Wherof he wolde in sondri wise
Opposen hem that weren wise.
Bot non of hem it myhte bere
Upon his word to yeve answere,
Outaken on, which was a knyht;
To him was every thing so liht,
That also sone as he hem herde,
The kinges wordes he answerde;
What thing the king him axe wolde,
Therof anon the trowthe he tolde.
The king somdiel hadde an Envie,
And thoghte he wolde his wittes plie
To sette som conclusioun,
Which scholde be confusioun
Unto this knyht, so that the name
And of wisdom the hihe fame
Toward himself he wolde winne.
And thus of al his wit withinne
This king began to studie and muse,
What strange matiere he myhte use
The knyhtes wittes to confounde;
And ate laste he hath it founde,
And for the knyht anon he sente,
That he schal telle what he mente.
Upon thre pointz stod the matiere
Of questions, as thou schalt hiere.
The ferste point of alle thre
Was this: "What thing in his degre
Of al this world hath nede lest,
And yet men helpe it althermest?"
The secounde is: "What most is worth,
And of costage is lest put forth?"
The thridde is: "Which is of most cost,
And lest is worth and goth to lost?"
The king thes thre demandes axeth,
And to the knyht this lawe he taxeth,
That he schal gon and come ayein
The thridde weke, and telle him plein
To every point, what it amonteth.
And if so be that he misconteth,
To make in his answere a faile,
Ther schal non other thing availe,
The king seith, bot he schal be ded
And lese hise goodes and his hed.
The knyht was sori of this thing
And wolde excuse him to the king,
Bot he ne wolde him noght forbere,
And thus the knyht of his ansuere
Goth hom to take avisement:
Bot after his entendement
The more he caste his wit aboute,
The more he stant therof in doute.
Tho wiste he wel the kinges herte,
That he the deth ne scholde asterte,
And such a sorwe hath to him take,
That gladschipe he hath al forsake.
He thoghte ferst upon his lif,
And after that upon his wif,
Upon his children ek also,
Of whiche he hadde dowhtres tuo;
The yongest of hem hadde of age
Fourtiene yer, and of visage
Sche was riht fair, and of stature
Lich to an hevenely figure,
And of manere and goodli speche,
Thogh men wolde alle Londes seche,
Thei scholden noght have founde hir like.
Sche sih hire fader sorwe and sike,
And wiste noght the cause why;
So cam sche to him prively,
And that was where he made his mone
Withinne a Gardin al him one;
Upon hire knes sche gan doun falle
With humble herte and to him calle,
And seide: "O goode fader diere,
Why make ye thus hevy chiere,
And I wot nothing how it is?
And wel ye knowen, fader, this,
What aventure that you felle
Ye myhte it saufly to me telle,
For I have ofte herd you seid,
That ye such trust have on me leid,
That to my soster ne my brother,
In al this world ne to non other,
Ye dorste telle a privite
So wel, my fader, as to me.
Forthi, my fader, I you preie,
Ne casteth noght that herte aweie,
For I am sche that wolde kepe
Youre honour." And with that to wepe
Hire yhe mai noght be forbore,
Sche wissheth forto ben unbore,
Er that hire fader so mistriste
To tellen hire of that he wiste:
And evere among merci sche cride,
That he ne scholde his conseil hide
From hire that so wolde him good
And was so nyh his fleissh and blod.
So that with wepinge ate laste
His chiere upon his child he caste,
And sorwfulli to that sche preide
He tolde his tale and thus he seide:
"The sorwe, dowhter, which I make
Is noght al only for my sake,
Bot for thee bothe and for you alle:
For such a chance is me befalle,
That I schal er this thridde day
Lese al that evere I lese may,
Mi lif and al my good therto:
Therfore it is I sorwe so."
"What is the cause, helas!" quod sche,
"Mi fader, that ye scholden be
Ded and destruid in such a wise?"
And he began the pointz devise,
Whiche as the king told him be mowthe,
And seid hir pleinly that he cowthe
Ansuere unto no point of this.
And sche, that hiereth how it is,
Hire conseil yaf and seide tho:
"Mi fader, sithen it is so,
That ye can se non other weie,
Bot that ye moste nedes deie,
I wolde preie of you a thing:
Let me go with you to the king,
And ye schull make him understonde
How ye, my wittes forto fonde,
Have leid your ansuere upon me;
And telleth him, in such degre
Upon my word ye wole abide
To lif or deth, what so betide.
For yit par chaunce I may pourchace
With som good word the kinges grace,
Your lif and ek your good to save;
For ofte schal a womman have
Thing which a man mai noght areche."
The fader herde his dowhter speche,
And thoghte ther was resoun inne,
And sih his oghne lif to winne
He cowthe don himself no cure;
So betre him thoghte in aventure
To put his lif and al his good,
Than in the maner as it stod
His lif in certein forto lese.
And thus thenkende he gan to chese
To do the conseil of this Maide,
And tok the pourpos which sche saide.
The dai was come and forth thei gon,
Unto the Court thei come anon,
Wher as the king in juggement
Was set and hath this knyht assent.
Arraied in hire beste wise
This Maiden with hire wordes wise
Hire fader ladde be the hond
Into the place, wher he fond
The king with othre whiche he wolde,
And to the king knelende he tolde
As he enformed was tofore,
And preith the king that he therfore
His dowhtres wordes wolde take,
And seith that he wol undertake
Upon hire wordes forto stonde.
Tho was ther gret merveile on honde,
That he, which was so wys a knyht,
His lif upon so yong a wyht
Besette wolde in jeupartie,
And manye it hielden for folie:
Bot ate laste natheles
The king comandeth ben in pes,
And to this Maide he caste his chiere,
And seide he wolde hire tale hiere,
He bad hire speke, and sche began:
"Mi liege lord, so as I can,"
Quod sche, "the pointz of whiche I herde,
Thei schul of reson ben ansuerde.
The ferste I understonde is this,
What thing of al the world it is,
Which men most helpe and hath lest nede.
Mi liege lord, this wolde I rede:
The Erthe it is, which everemo
With mannes labour is bego;
Als wel in wynter as in Maii
The mannes hond doth what he mai
To helpe it forth and make it riche,
And forthi men it delve and dyche
And eren it with strengthe of plowh,
Wher it hath of himself ynowh,
So that his nede is ate leste.
For every man and bridd and beste,
And flour and gras and rote and rinde,
And every thing be weie of kynde
Schal sterve, and Erthe it schal become;
As it was out of Erthe nome,
It schal to therthe torne ayein:
And thus I mai be resoun sein
That Erthe is the most nedeles,
And most men helpe it natheles.
So that, my lord, touchende of this
I have ansuerd hou that it is.
That other point I understod,
Which most is worth and most is good,
And costeth lest a man to kepe:
Mi lord, if ye woll take kepe,
I seie it is Humilite,
Thurgh which the hihe trinite
As for decerte of pure love
Unto Marie from above,
Of that he knew hire humble entente,
His oghne Sone adoun he sente,
Above alle othre and hire he ches
For that vertu which bodeth pes:
So that I may be resoun calle
Humilite most worth of alle.
And lest it costeth to maintiene,
In al the world as it is sene;
For who that hath humblesce on honde,
He bringth no werres into londe,
For he desireth for the beste
To setten every man in reste.
Thus with your hihe reverence
Me thenketh that this evidence
As to this point is sufficant.
And touchende of the remenant,
Which is the thridde of youre axinges,
What leste is worth of alle thinges,
And costeth most, I telle it, Pride;
Which mai noght in the hevene abide,
For Lucifer with hem that felle
Bar Pride with him into helle.
Ther was Pride of to gret a cost,
Whan he for Pride hath hevene lost;
And after that in Paradis
Adam for Pride loste his pris:
In Midelerthe and ek also
Pride is the cause of alle wo,
That al the world ne may suffise
To stanche of Pride the reprise:
Pride is the heved of alle Sinne,
Which wasteth al and mai noght winne;
Pride is of every mis the pricke,
Pride is the werste of alle wicke,
And costneth most and lest is worth
In place where he hath his forth.
Thus have I seid that I wol seie
Of myn answere, and to you preie,
Mi liege lord, of youre office
That ye such grace and such justice
Ordeigne for mi fader hiere,
That after this, whan men it hiere,
The world therof mai speke good."
The king, which reson understod
And hath al herd how sche hath said,
Was inly glad and so wel paid
That al his wraththe is overgo:
And he began to loke tho
Upon this Maiden in the face,
In which he fond so mochel grace,
That al his pris on hire he leide,
In audience and thus he seide:
"Mi faire Maide, wel thee be!
Of thin ansuere and ek of thee
Me liketh wel, and as thou wilt,
Foryive be thi fader gilt.
And if thou were of such lignage,
That thou to me were of parage,
And that thi fader were a Pier,
As he is now a Bachilier,
So seker as I have a lif,
Thou scholdest thanne be my wif.
Bot this I seie natheles,
That I wol schape thin encress;
What worldes good that thou wolt crave,
Axe of my yifte and thou schalt have."
And sche the king with wordes wise
Knelende thonketh in this wise:
"Mi liege lord, god mot you quite!
Mi fader hier hath bot a lite
Of warison, and that he wende
Hadde al be lost; bot now amende
He mai wel thurgh your noble grace."
With that the king riht in his place
Anon forth in that freisshe hete
An Erldom, which thanne of eschete
Was late falle into his hond,
Unto this knyht with rente and lond
Hath yove and with his chartre sesed;
And thus was all the noise appesed.
This Maiden, which sat on hire knes
Tofore the king, hise charitees
Comendeth, and seide overmore:
"Mi liege lord, riht now tofore
Ye seide, as it is of record,
That if my fader were a lord
And Pier unto these othre grete,
Ye wolden for noght elles lete,
That I ne scholde be your wif;
And this wot every worthi lif,
A kinges word it mot ben holde.
Forthi, my lord, if that ye wolde
So gret a charite fulfille,
God wot it were wel my wille:
For he which was a Bacheler,
Mi fader, is now mad a Pier;
So whenne as evere that I cam,
An Erles dowhter now I am."
This yonge king, which peised al,
Hire beaute and hir wit withal,
As he that was with love hent,
Anon therto yaf his assent.
He myhte noght the maide asterte,
That sche nis ladi of his herte;
So that he tok hire to his wif,
To holde whyl that he hath lif:
And thus the king toward his knyht
Acordeth him, as it is riht.
And over this good is to wite,
In the Cronique as it is write,
This noble king of whom I tolde
Of Spaine be tho daies olde
The kingdom hadde in governance,
And as the bok makth remembrance,
Alphonse was his propre name:
The knyht also, if I schal name,
Danz Petro hihte, and as men telle,
His dowhter wyse Peronelle
Was cleped, which was full of grace:
And that was sene in thilke place,
Wher sche hir fader out of teene
Hath broght and mad hirself a qweene,
Of that sche hath so wel desclosed
The pointz wherof sche was opposed.
|A king there once was smart and young,
Who to his own wit praises sung.
Odd esoteric mysteries
With curiously hidden keys,
That hard solutions did involve,
He with his wisdom sought to solve.
But first in many different ways,
He those considered wise surveys.
But none of them can answer back
And show that they the code can crack,
Except for one, who was a knight.
He always seemed to get it right;
As soon as he the puzzle heard
The right response to him occurred;
Whate’er the question that was posed
He instantly the truth disclosed.
The king grew envious of it,
And thought he would apply his wit
To come up with some crafty ruse
That surely would this Knight confuse,
So that the reputation of
His own great wisdom would above
The Knight’s again be seen to soar.
Thus his capacious innate store
Of knowledge did this king explore,
To find some clever, subtle sleight
With which he could confound this knight.
When he on something finally hit,
He for the knight did send, that it
Might unto him be told. It turned
Upon three points that are discerned
Each by a question, as you’ll see.
To start, the first point of these three
Was: “In this world what fills this bill:
The least in need of help, but still
To help it most of all, men will?”
Now two: “What has the highest worth,
But has the lowest price on earth?”
And third: "What is of highest cost,
Yet, valueless, away is tossed?”
This sovereign makes these three demands,
And gives unto the knight commands,
That he shall go and then return
The third week, so that he might learn
What on these points he will report.
And if this knight should come up short,
And wrongly any answer thing,
Then it is certain, said the king,
Without appeal he shall be dead,
For he shall lose his lands and head.
This thing did devastate the knight,
He begged his sovereign that he might
Not go ahead, but no respect
Was shown his wish, so to reflect
Upon his answers home he goes:
But after bringing all he knows
To bear, he can no answers find;
Great doubt arose within his mind.
Then knew he well the king’s intent,
That he upon his death was bent,
His sorrow was of such degree
That from him fled felicity.
On his own life at first he dwelt,
Then sorrow for his wife he felt,
And for his children he was blue,
For he had lovely daughters two;
The youngest was but fourteen years
In age. How fair her face appears!
Such was her stature and her grace
That it did match her heavenly face;
Her speech was with such favor fraught,
That though through all the land men sought,
The likes of her they would not find.
She saw her father’s state of mind,
But did not know what made him sigh;
And so she secretly came nigh
To where he did his fate bemoan
Within a garden all alone;
Where with humility complete
She did most earnestly entreat,
And said to him: “Dear father, O
How is it that you’re brooding so,
And I don’t know the reason why?
For, father, well you know that I
Am someone you can safely tell
About whatever you befell,
For I have often heard you say,
That you such trust upon me lay,
That neither to my sister nor
My brother nor another, your
Most confidential things would you,
Dare tell, but unto one as true
As I. And so to you I pray,
That you won’t throw that trust away,
For well you know that I would keep
Your honor.” And with that to weep
She can in no way stop her eye,
For she would almost rather die,
Than not be trusted by her dad
To tell her why he was so sad:
Over and over again she cried,
That he his feelings would not hide
From her that only good desired
To come to him who had her sired.
At last by her distress beguiled
He turned and looked upon his child,
And touched by her entreaties told
His tale to her: as teardrops rolled
He said: “The sorrow that is mine
Is not for my sake but for thine
And for thy sister and you all:
For I’ve a fate I can’t forestall,
That I, before three days do pass
Shall lose all that I have, alas,
My life and all my worldly things:
Tis this that sorrow to me brings.”
“Alas, what is the cause!” says she,
“My father dear, that you should be
Dead and destroyed in such a way?”
And so to her he did convey
That which the king of him did ask,
And plainly told her that this task
Was something that he could not do.
And she, now that his plight she knew,
Her counsel gave, and to him said:
“My father, since this thing you dread,
And you can see no other way,
Than with your precious life to pay,
There is this thing of you I’d pray:
Let me go with you to the king
And make him understand one thing
That trusting in my judgment you
Will let my answers stand in lieu
Of yours, and that you do agree
That by my own words you will be
Resigned to life or death. For yet
It may turn out that I can get
With some good words our sovereign’s grace,
That mercy kind he might embrace.
For often shall a woman gain
That which a man may not obtain.”
He heard her words and was relieved,
For merit in them he perceived;
He felt if it were up to him,
His chances would be pretty slim;
It could not hurt this risk to take,
With his own life and lands at stake;
If he his present course pursues
Then surely he his life will lose.
He starts to think he ought to choose
To listen to her counsel wise
And do just as she did advise.
The day arrived and to the court
They both set out, where they report,
The judgment of the king to face
In his appointed princely place.
All decked out in her finest guise
This maid whose words her age belies
Did lead her father by the hand
Into that place, where there did stand
Some other allies whom he sees,
And to the king he, on his knees,
Recounts the reasons they are here,
And prays the king might lend an ear
Unto his daughter’s words, and he
Would stand upon the words that she
Might choose in his behalf to say.
There was great wonder at the way
That he, who was a knight so great,
Would choose to place his life and fate
Into the hands of one so young;
It’s folly was on many a tongue:
But no one did the king resist
When he on silence did insist,
And when he looked upon this maid,
To tell her tale to him he bade
“Speak child,” he said, and she began:
“My lord, I’ll do the best I can,
As to the points I’ve heard,” said she,
"I shall with reason answer thee.
The first is, as I understand,
What does in all the world command
Men’s help the most but has least need.
My lord, I say it is indeed
The earth itself, on which men do
Work hard till in the face they’re blue;
As well in winter as in spring
A man’s hand does whatever thing
He can to help it richly grow;
To this end men will dig and hoe
And cultivate it with the plow,
When really it itself knows how
And does not need him in the least.
For every man and bird and beast,
And rose and grass and mighty elm,
And everything in nature’s realm
Shall die, and turn again to dust;
For taken out of earth it must
Unto the earth return one day:
And thus by reason I may say
That earth least need of help can boast,
And nonetheless men help it most.
And so, my lord, unto this quiz
I’ve answered plainly how it is.
The next point, as I understood,
What has most worth and is most good,
Yet is most easy to afford:
If one just thinks a bit, my lord,
It is humility whereby,
The Holy Trinity on high
Sent, for the merit of pure love
To virgin Mary from above,
A special son who was God’s own;
Because her humble ways were known,
Above all others her he chose,
For peace out of that virtue grows.
Thus reason says: in all the earth
Humility has greatest worth.
And to maintain it costs the least,
For it is seen from west to east;
Whoso humility displays,
Keeps strife at bay for all his days,
For he would see all discord cease
So that all men might live in peace.
Thus as all men do you revere
These facts suffice to make quite clear
This point, as I am sure you see.
Of your enigma number three
For which an answer you would call,
What has the highest cost of all,
But has least worth, I say it’s Pride;
Which may in heaven not abide,
For Lucifer with those who fell,
Bore Pride away down into hell.
Their Pride was of too great a cost,
For due to Pride was heaven lost;
And then in Eden angels cried
When Adam lost his prize for Pride:
And for those who on earth do dwell
Pride makes their lives a living hell,
And all the world cannot suffice
For Pride’s expense to pay the price:
Pride is the fountainhead of sin
It’s fruits are wastage and chagrin;
Of every wrong Pride is the sting,
Pride leads to every wicked thing;
It costs the most and has least worth
Wherever it is found on earth.
I’ve now said all I have to say
In answer to your points, and pray,
My sovereign lord, that from your place
You would such justice and such grace
Dispense unto my father here
That afterwards, when to man’s ear
This deed does come the world may cheer.”
The king, who was by reason swayed,
Heard all the words of this young maid,
And inwardly he was so pleased
That all his anger was appeased:
Then on this maiden’s face he gazed,
Her looks and bearing he appraised
And at her grace was so amazed
That all his praise was for her sake
For all to hear, and thus he spake:
“My fair maid, all be well with thee!
Both what I hear and what I see
I like, and so as you desire
Your father’s life I’ll not require.
And if you had a family line,
That made your rank the same as mine,
So that your father was my peer,
And not a commoner, my dear,
Then as I live and breathe, I would
Take you as wife for ill or good.
But nonetheless this I will say,
For your prosperity this day;
What you require I shall provide,
Just ask and you’ll not be denied.”
So she before the king did kneel,
And gave him thanks with this appeal:
“May heaven grant you your reward!
My father has not much, my lord,
Of property, which he had thought
Would all be lost; but you have brought
Hope, which your noble grace has wrought.”
With that this king, without delay
At once decided to convey
An earldom that, as forfeit land,
Did lately fall into his hand,
Both land and rent unto this knight,
A grant which gave him great delight.
And all the acrimony stopped.
Down on her knees this maiden dropped
Before the king, his kindness praised,
And furthermore these points she raised:
“My lord, just now you said to me,
And let the record witness be,
That if of high nobility
My father were, to thee a peer,
Then nothing else would interfere
Your marriage to me to oppose;
And every worthy person knows,
A king his word would never break.
And so, my lord, if you would make
So kind a gesture, God knows that
This place is where my heart is at.
My father, once a common knight,
Has now been made a peer; my plight,
Was once to be a common girl,
Now I’m the daughter of an earl.”
This young king, who her good looks weighed,
And too the wit that she displayed,
As one who was with love on fire,
Assented unto her desire.
Her yearning he could not resist,
That only she by him be kissed;
And so he took her for his wife,
To have and hold for all his life:
And he accorded to his knight.
That which was fair, and just, and right.
Beyond this it is good to know,
As ancient chronicles will show,
This noble king of whom I told
A kingdom ruled in days of old.
He governed in the land of Spain;
The book makes mention of his reign,
That it was Alphonse on the throne.
The knight was as Danz Petro known,
And it is thought, or so men tell,
His clever daughter Peronelle
Was christened, who was full of grace:
And it was in that very place
Where out of sorrow she did bring
Her father, and did wed a king,
Since to three questions her replies
Were to the point, and true, and wise.
Lo now, my Sone, as thou myht hiere,
Lo now, my son, as you can see,