Modern English version
Book 2 - The Sin of Envy
see also Prologue, Book 2, Book 4, Book 5, Book 6, Book 7, and Book 8
© Copyright 2008 Richard Brodie
(Middle English text from MacAulay)
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Polyphemos, Acis, and Galatea
Joy at another's Pain
Two Travelers and an Angel
The Saga of Constance
Demetrius and Perseus
Dissimulation and its Confederate, Hypocrisy
Nessus, Deianira, and Hercules
Geta and Amphitrion
The False Bachelor
Envy in Love
Charity, Envy's Remedy
Constantine & Sylvester
is used instead of margin indications to identify speakers in dialogue
Blue for Amans
Orange for Genius
|Pain at another's Joy|
Now after Pride the secounde
Ther is, which many a woful stounde
Towardes othre berth aboute
Withinne himself and noght withoute;
For in his thoght he brenneth evere,
Whan that he wot an other levere
Or more vertuous than he,
Which passeth him in his degre;
Therof he takth his maladie:
That vice is cleped hot Envie.
Forthi, my Sone, if it be so
Thou art or hast ben on of tho,
As forto speke in loves cas,
If evere yit thin herte was
Sek of an other mannes hele?
So god avance my querele,
Mi fader, ye, a thousend sithe:
Whanne I have sen an other blithe
Of love, and hadde a goodly chiere,
Ethna, which brenneth yer be yere,
Was thanne noght so hot as I
Of thilke Sor which prively
Min hertes thoght withinne brenneth.
The Schip which on the wawes renneth,
And is forstormed and forblowe,
Is noght more peined for a throwe
Than I am thanne, whanne I se
An other which that passeth me
In that fortune of loves yifte.
Bot, fader, this I telle in schrifte,
That is nowher bot in o place;
For who that lese or finde grace
In other stede, it mai noght grieve:
Bot this ye mai riht wel believe,
Toward mi ladi that I serve,
Thogh that I wiste forto sterve,
Min herte is full of such sotie,
That I myself mai noght chastie.
Whan I the Court se of Cupide
Aproche unto my ladi side
Of hem that lusti ben and freisshe,-
Thogh it availe hem noght a reisshe,
Bot only that thei ben in speche,-
My sorwe is thanne noght to seche:
Bot whan thei rounen in hire Ere,
Than groweth al my moste fere,
And namly whan thei talen longe;
My sorwes thanne be so stronge
Of that I se hem wel at ese,
I can noght telle my desese.
Bot, Sire, as of my ladi selve,
Thogh sche have wowers ten or twelve,
For no mistrust I have of hire
Me grieveth noght, for certes, Sire,
I trowe, in al this world to seche,
Nis womman that in dede and speche
Woll betre avise hire what sche doth,
Ne betre, forto seie a soth,
Kepe hire honour ate alle tide,
And yit get hire a thank beside.
Bot natheles I am beknowe,
That whanne I se at eny throwe,
Or elles if I mai it hiere,
That sche make eny man good chiere,
Thogh I therof have noght to done,
Mi thought wol entermette him sone.
For thogh I be miselve strange,
Envie makth myn herte change,
That I am sorghfully bestad
Of that I se an other glad
With hire; bot of other alle,
Of love what so mai befalle,
Or that he faile or that he spede,
Therof take I bot litel heede.
Now have I seid, my fader, al
As of this point in special,
Als ferforthli as I have wist.
Now axeth further what you list.
Mi Sone, er I axe eny more,
I thenke somdiel for thi lore
Telle an ensample of this matiere
Touchende Envie, as thou schalt hiere.
Write in Civile this I finde:
Thogh it be noght the houndes kinde
To ete chaf, yit wol he werne
An Oxe which comth to the berne,
Therof to taken eny fode.
And thus, who that it understode,
It stant of love in many place:
Who that is out of loves grace
And mai himselven noght availe,
He wolde an other scholde faile;
And if he may put eny lette,
He doth al that he mai to lette.
Wherof I finde, as thou schalt wite,
To this pourpos a tale write.
after Pride a second sin
There is, which makes a man within
Himself and not without to turn,
Ever with attitudes that burn
With bitterness, when he perceives
That someone else a love receives,
Or seems more virtuous than he,
Showing himself less pure to be;
This sore and grievous fault of his,
A malice known as Envy is.
So tell me if it’s true, my son,
That of this sort you have been one,
At least as it does love concern,
Whose heart will unto sickness turn
When of another’s health you learn.
May God my malady relieve,
My father, yea, I often grieve
When I see someone’s twinkly eye
Who’s had good luck in love, where I
Have failed; then Etna’s seething blaze
Is not as hot as that malaise
Of thought which secretly inside
Begins to burn from love denied.
That ship which floats upon the waves
And all the stormy weather braves,
Is not more pained from being tossed
Than I, to see what I have lost
To one who in love’s fortune’s gift
Is favored over my short shrift.
This, father, I in secret say;
It must in only one place stay,
That who might me replace, or not,
May not be grieved by what he’s got.
But of this you may rest assured,
Toward her to whom I’ve been allured,
Although I knew that I might die,
My foolishness of heart am I
Quite powerless to rectify.
When I the court of Cupid see,
Of those who young and lusty be,
Come and beside my lady sit
(Though it avail them not a whit,
When only to converse they stay),
My sadness is not far away.
But when they whisper in her ear,
Then I begin the worst to fear,
Particularly when at length
They talk, my sorrow gains in strength,
And when I see them well at ease
I can’t describe my heart’s disease.
But, sire, as to my lady, though
A dozen suitors to her show
Attentions, I’d not worry nor
Be anxious, sire, about her for
There is no woman who exceeds
That virtue, shown in words and deeds,
Her nonpareil soul's beauty breeds,
Nor any, if the truth be told,
Who better onto honor hold,
And still a “Thank you” get, to boot.
But nonetheless I can’t dispute,
That when at any time I see,
Or chance to hear that it might be,
That any man upon her dotes,
Though it’s not something she promotes,
My thoughts will make me hit the roof.
For though I try to stay aloof,
To Envy does my heart fall prey,
So that I’m filled with sore dismay
To see another man with her
Be happy; for what might occur
Regarding love, should he prevail
In his pursuit or should he fail,
Of that I take but little heed.
I’ve said, my father, all I need
To say upon this point, indeed
I’ve told you all I know, my sire,
Now you may more of me enquire.
My son, before I ask you more,
I’ll tell you an example for
Your guidance on the subject of
That evil, Envy, seen in love.
This written in the Law I find:
Although a hound is not inclined
To eat straw, still he will the ass
Which comes into the barn harass,
So that it may no food consume.
It is to love, we may presume,
That this propensity applies.
To him whom Venus love denies
And he himself cannot cavort,
He’ll wish another would fall short;
And if he can at all impede,
He’ll not let someone else succeed.
Of this I find, as you shall know,
A tale that is quite apropos.
|Polyphemos, Acis, and Galatea|
Ther ben of suche mo than twelve,
That ben noght able as of hemselve
To gete love, and for Envie
Upon alle othre thei aspie;
And for hem lacketh that thei wolde,
Thei kepte that non other scholde
Touchende of love his cause spede:
Wherof a gret ensample I rede,
Which unto this matiere acordeth,
As Ovide in his bok recordeth,
How Poliphemus whilom wroghte,
Whan that he Galathee besoghte
Of love, which he mai noght lacche.
That made him forto waite and wacche
Be alle weies how it ferde,
Til ate laste he knew and herde
How that an other hadde leve
To love there as he mot leve,
As forto speke of eny sped:
So that he knew non other red,
Bot forto wayten upon alle,
Til he may se the chance falle
That he hire love myhte grieve,
Which he himself mai noght achieve.
This Galathee, seith the Poete,
Above alle othre was unmete
Of beaute, that men thanne knewe,
And hadde a lusti love and trewe,
A Bacheler in his degree,
Riht such an other as was sche,
On whom sche hath hire herte set,
So that it myhte noght be let
For yifte ne for no beheste,
That sche ne was al at his heste.
This yonge knyht Acis was hote,
Which hire ayeinward als so hote
Al only loveth and nomo.
Hierof was Poliphemus wo
Thurgh pure Envie, and evere aspide,
And waiteth upon every side,
Whan he togedre myhte se
This yonge Acis with Galathe.
So longe he waiteth to and fro,
Til ate laste he fond hem tuo,
In prive place wher thei stode
To speke and have here wordes goode.
The place wher as he hem syh,
It was under a banke nyh
The grete See, and he above
Stod and behield the lusti love
Which ech of hem to other made
With goodly chiere and wordes glade,
That al his herte hath set afyre
Of pure Envie: and as a fyre
Which fleth out of a myhti bowe,
Aweie he fledde for a throwe,
As he that was for love wod,
Whan that he sih how that it stod.
This Polipheme a Geant was;
And whan he sih the sothe cas,
How Galathee him hath forsake
And Acis to hire love take,
His herte mai it noght forbere
That he ne roreth lich a Bere;
And as it were a wilde beste,
The whom no reson mihte areste,
He ran Ethna the hell aboute,
Wher nevere yit the fyr was oute,
Fulfild of sorghe and gret desese,
That he syh Acis wel at ese.
Til ate laste he him bethoghte,
As he which al Envie soghte,
And torneth to the banke ayein,
Wher he with Galathee hath seyn
Acis, whom that he thoghte grieve,
Thogh he himself mai noght relieve.
This Geant with his ruide myht
Part of the banke he schof doun riht,
The which evene upon Acis fell,
So that with fallinge of this hell
This Poliphemus Acis slowh,
Wherof sche made sorwe ynowh.
And as sche fledde fro the londe,
Neptunus tok hire into honde
And kept hire in so sauf a place
Fro Polipheme and his manace,
That he with al his false Envie
Ne mihte atteigne hir compaignie.
This Galathee of whom I speke,
That of hirself mai noght be wreke,
Withouten eny semblant feigned
Sche hath hire loves deth compleigned,
And with hire sorwe and with hire wo
Sche hath the goddes moeved so,
That thei of pite and of grace
Have Acis in the same place,
Ther he lai ded, into a welle
Transformed, as the bokes telle,
With freisshe stremes and with cliere,
As he whilom with lusti chiere
Was freissh his love forto qweme.
And with this ruide Polipheme
For his Envie and for his hate
Thei were wrothe. And thus algate,
Mi Sone, thou myht understonde,
That if thou wolt in grace stonde
With love, thou most leve Envie:
And as thou wolt for thi partie
Toward thi love stonde fre,
So most thou soffre an other be,
What so befalle upon the chaunce:
For it is an unwys vengance,
Which to non other man is lief,
And is unto himselve grief.
Mi fader, this ensample is good;
Bot how so evere that it stod
With Poliphemes love as tho,
It schal noght stonde with me so,
To worchen eny felonie
In love for no such Envie.
Forthi if ther oght elles be,
Now axeth forth, in what degre
It is, and I me schal confesse
With schrifte unto youre holinesse.
Of men more than a few we find
To whom love’s fortunes are unkind,
And out of Envy do they spy
Upon all other others; and they try,
Because they lose where others win,
To make sure that no others in
Romance are able to succeed.
A great example can we read,
Which of this sin is apropos,
Where Ovid in his book does go
Into what Polyphemos wrought,
When Galatea’s love he sought,
Which he could never have. That made
Him lie in wait where he surveyed
Just how things went, until he learned
That for which he in Envy yearned,
About how her attentions turned
To someone who, where he was spurned,
Was granted leave to love by her.
No counsel wise could him deter
From what to him did Envy spur
Until he sees the perfect chance
For him to ruin that romance,
Which he himself could not attain.
According to the poet’s strain,
That Galatea had no peer
In beauty, was to all men clear,
And had a true and lusty love.
There was a young man who was of
A heart and mind that matched her own,
Her heart was set on him alone;
None could her otherwise persuade
For any gift or promise made,
That she was not for him alone.
As Acis was this young knight known
Who felt that same romantic flame;
No other could his passion claim.
Hereof was Polyphemos pained,
Who ever on the watch remained
Through Envy, waiting day and night
To see when Acis took delight
In Galatea's company.
He stalked about till one time he
At last the two of them did find
Within a private place entwined,
A haunt to which they did repair
Where they could their sweet nothings share,
Which was neath an embankment nigh
Unto the sea, and he up high
Beheld that lusty love from there
That each did with the other share
With blithesome hearts and words of bliss.
His heart burned at the sight of this
From Envy pure, and as a flame
Which from a bow with fury came,
He fled from where he’d been upstaged,
As one who was for love enraged
When he how things were going gauged.
This giant, Polyphemos, knowing
How the tide of fate was flowing,
Galatea him forsaking
And the love of Acis taking,
His heart could not stand the pain.
He could from roaring not refrain;
No reasoning could him restrain.
Like some wild beast, not like a man,
He round the mountain Etna ran,
Where never does the fire subside.
All sick with woe and wounded pride,
To see that Acis him replaced,
With thoughts of how he'd been disgraced.
With Envy for revenge he yearned.
And so he to the beach returned,
Where Galatea arm in arm
He'd seen with Acis, whom he'd harm,
Though that would not prevent his plight.
This giant did, with his brute might
A portion of the bank dislodge
And Acis could this dirt not dodge,
So that beneath this hill of clay
Did Polyphemos Acis slay,
Whereon with great dismay she cried.
And when to run away she tried,
Great Neptune took her by the hand
And in a safe place had her stand
Where Polyphemos could not go
To menace with his Envy, so
That he to have her could not plot.
This Galatea who could not
Avenge herself, without one blot
Soever of appearance feigned
About her lover's death complained.
With mournful tears and woeful nods,
She did so greatly move the gods,
That they through pity and through grace
Did Acis in the selfsame place
Where he lay dead, into a well
Transformed, as all the legends tell,
With streams that ran all clear and fresh,
As once when he was in the flesh
He freshly sought to please his love.
And thus with Polyphemos of
Pure hate possessed and envy, they
Were wroth. And thus in every way,
My son, it's well to realize
That if in love you 'd rather Aye's
Than Nay's, you Envy must reject:
Just as you in romance expect
That you may your own love select,
So to another in romance,
You must allow what comes by chance:
For such revenge is most unwise,
Which does no good to other guys,
And gives unto oneself great grief.
My father, this example brief
Is well and good, but how it went
With Polyphemos' wicked bent,
So shall I not at any time
Be tempted to commit a crime
For love with Envy such as his.
So now if something else there is,
Do not hold back, for as you quiz,
I shall with penitence confess
My sins unto your holiness.
|Joy at another's Pain|
Mi goode Sone, yit ther is
A vice revers unto this,
Which envious takth his gladnesse
Of that he seth the hevinesse
Of othre men: for his welfare
Is whanne he wot an other care:
Of that an other hath a fall,
He thenkth himself arist withal.
Such is the gladschipe of Envie
In worldes thing, and in partie
Fulofte times ek also
In loves cause it stant riht so.
If thou, my Sone, hast joie had,
Whan thou an other sihe unglad,
Schrif the therof. Mi fader, yis:
I am beknowe unto you this.
Of these lovers that loven streyte,
And for that point which thei coveite
Ben poursuiantz fro yeer to yere
In loves Court, whan I may hiere
How that thei clymbe upon the whel,
And whan thei wene al schal be wel,
Thei ben doun throwen ate laste,
Thanne am I fedd of that thei faste,
And lawhe of that I se hem loure;
And thus of that thei brewe soure
I drinke swete, and am wel esed
Of that I wot thei ben desesed.
Bot this which I you telle hiere
Is only for my lady diere;
That for non other that I knowe
Me reccheth noght who overthrowe,
Ne who that stonde in love upriht:
Bot be he squier, be he knyht,
Which to my ladiward poursuieth,
The more he lest of that he suieth,
The mor me thenketh that I winne,
And am the more glad withinne
Of that I wot him sorwe endure.
For evere upon such aventure
It is a confort, as men sein,
To him the which is wo besein
To sen an other in his peine,
So that thei bothe mai compleigne.
Wher I miself mai noght availe
To sen an other man travaile,
I am riht glad if he be let;
And thogh I fare noght the bet,
His sorwe is to myn herte a game:
Whan that I knowe it is the same
Which to mi ladi stant enclined,
And hath his love noght termined,
I am riht joifull in my thoght.
If such Envie grieveth oght,
As I beknowe me coupable,
Ye that be wys and resonable,
Mi fader, telleth youre avis.
Mi Sone, Envie into no pris
Of such a forme, I understonde,
Ne mihte be no resoun stonde
For this Envie hath such a kinde,
That he wole sette himself behinde
To hindre with an othre wyht,
And gladly lese his oghne riht
To make an other lesen his.
And forto knowe how it so is,
A tale lich to this matiere
I thenke telle, if thou wolt hiere,
To schewe proprely the vice
Of this Envie and the malice.
My good son, there's another vice
That is the opposite precise,
One in which Envy takes delight
Whenever he perceives the plight
Of other men. For his welfare
Is when he sees another's care:
When someone from disaster reels
That's when he satisfaction feels.
Such is the pleasure Envy takes
In worldly things, and too the aches
He sees in love will Envy make
Him that same tainted pleasure take.
If you, my son have pleasure had,
When you have seen another sad,
Own up to it. My father, yes:
This I admit and do confess.
Those who do love with passion great,
And seek their love to consummate
In love's court, then when I may see
Them riding high on Fortune's wheel,
And when they most ecstatic feel,
Get thrown down suddenly at last,
Then I am fed because they fast,
And laugh because I see them frown;
Because a bitter brew they down
I'm happy, and sweet is my drink
To know that in distress they sink.
But what I am confessing here
Applies just to my lady dear;
With others of whom I'm aware,
Of their misfortunes I don't care
When they to score in love aspire.
But be he knight or be he squire,
Which seeks my lady to seduce
When he sees that's it is no use,
I see my chance to win; Inside
His loss makes me feel satisfied
To know the sorrow that he feels.
For in these love affair ordeals,
It's comforting, the saying goes,
For him who is beset with woes
To see another in his pain,
For then can both of them complain.
Though it may help me not at all
To see another take a fall,
Yet I like seeing him undone;
And though I know it helps me none,
I am at his heart's pain amused.
When I know that he's been refused
By her whom I am longing for,
And with her he has failed to score,
Unto rejoicing do I tend.
Should Envy of this sort offend
Of which I'm guilty, as I've said,
You, by whose reason I am led,
Let me by your advice be fed.
This kind of Envy can't, my son,
By any reasoning be spun
Into a thing if high esteem,
For Envy like this makes one scheme
To cause oneself to fall behind
So that another grief might find;
To lose one's own right one would choose,
To cause another his to lose.
To show you just how this can be,
I'll tell a tale to help you see
The nature of this vice severe;
If you will pay me heed and hear,
I'll make this Envy's malice clear.
|Two Travelers and an Angel|
Of Jupiter this finde I write,
How whilom that he wolde wite
Upon the pleigntes whiche he herde,
Among the men how that it ferde,
As of here wrong condicion
To do justificacion:
And for that cause doun he sente
An Angel, which about wente,
That he the sothe knowe mai.
So it befell upon a dai
This Angel, which him scholde enforme,
Was clothed in a mannes forme,
And overtok, I understonde,
Tuo men that wenten over londe,
Thurgh whiche he thoghte to aspie
His cause, and goth in compaignie.
This Angel with hise wordes wise
Opposeth hem in sondri wise,
Now lowde wordes and now softe,
That mad hem to desputen ofte,
And ech of hem his reson hadde.
And thus with tales he hem ladde
With good examinacioun,
Til he knew the condicioun,
What men thei were bothe tuo;
And sih wel ate laste tho,
That on of hem was coveitous,
And his fela was envious.
And thus, whan he hath knowlechinge,
Anon he feigneth departinge,
And seide he mot algate wende.
Bot herkne now what fell at ende:
For thanne he made hem understonde
That he was there of goddes sonde,
And seide hem, for the kindeschipe
That thei have don him felaschipe,
He wole hem do som grace ayein,
And bad that on of hem schal sein
What thing him is lievest to crave,
And he it schal of yifte have;
And over that ek forth withal
He seith that other have schal
The double of that his felaw axeth;
And thus to hem his grace he taxeth.
The coveitous was wonder glad,
And to that other man he bad
And seith that he ferst axe scholde:
For he supposeth that he wolde
Make his axinge of worldes good;
For thanne he knew wel how it stod,
That he himself be double weyhte
Schal after take, and thus be sleyhte,
Be cause that he wolde winne,
He bad his fela ferst beginne.
This Envious, thogh it be late,
Whan that he syh he mot algate
Make his axinge ferst, he thoghte,
If he worschipe or profit soghte,
It schal be doubled to his fiere:
That wolde he chese in no manere.
Bot thanne he scheweth what he was
Toward Envie, and in this cas
Unto this Angel thus he seide
And for his yifte this he preide,
To make him blind of his on yhe,
So that his fela nothing syhe.
This word was noght so sone spoke,
That his on yhe anon was loke,
And his felawh forthwith also
Was blind of bothe his yhen tuo.
Tho was that other glad ynowh,
That on wepte, and that other lowh,
He sette his on yhe at no cost,
Wherof that other two hath lost.
Of thilke ensample which fell tho,
Men tellen now fulofte so,
The world empeireth comunly:
And yit wot non the cause why;
For it acordeth noght to kinde
Min oghne harm to seche and finde
Of that I schal my brother grieve;
It myhte nevere wel achieve.
What seist thou, Sone, of this folie?
Mi fader, bot I scholde lie,
Upon the point which ye have seid
Yit was myn herte nevere leid,
Bot in the wise as I you tolde.
Bot overmore, if that ye wolde
Oght elles to my schrifte seie
Touchende Envie, I wolde preie.
I've read that Zeus once sought to know,
If he down on the earth would go
Amidst the murmuring of men,
Just how things went between them when
They ventured at their own expense
Perverted justice to dispense.
For this an angel he did send,
Some time upon the earth to spend
That he the truth might comprehend.
It happened, as around he ranged,
This angel, his informant, changed
So that he like a man did look,
Upon the highway overtook
Two travelers who did compel
His interest; it might serve him well
He thought, if he could walk a spell
With them. So with the well turned phrase
He questions them in sundry ways.
His emphasis their nerves did touch
Which caused these two to argue much,
Each justified in his own eyes.
On crafty questions he relies
Much information to obtain
Their characters to ascertain,
And know what sort of men they were;
At last he's able to infer,
That one for coveting was known,
The other unto envy prone.
And thus when all of this he'd learned,
As if to leave around he turned,
And said that soon he'd have to go.
But then so that they both would know
The truth which from them he'd concealed,
That God had sent him he revealed,
And said that since they had been kind
And had their friendship not declined,
He'd like that kindness to return,
And said that he would like to learn
From one, for what he most would yearn,
And his wish he will get for free.
But there is one more thing said he -
The other shall entitled be
To double that which he'd obtain;
In this way they his gift might gain.
The covetous one filled with greed,
Said to the other man, "Proceed;
I'll let you be the first to speak.",
For he supposed that he would seek
Some worldly treasure to obtain;
For he knew that he then would gain
A double portion of the same;
That he was clever he could claim,
For he was sure that he would win
If his companion would begin.
The envious one, though he missed
His chance to doubly win, would twist
The thing to his advantage, so
That his companion might not crow
About how he'd come out the best,
An outcome that he would detest.
And so he shows what species he
Of Envy has, for now we see
What from the Angel he would take.
That which would him most happy make
Was in one eye to be made blind
So that to sightlessness consigned
Would be the other. As he spoke
Out did the Angel one eye poke,
What did he to the other do?
You guessed it, he did poke out two.
His Envy was well satisfied,
For he laughed, while the other cried;
One lost eye he would sacrifice,
So that the other might lose twice.
The fruits of Envy of this sort
We oft hear men today report,
As daily does the world grow worse,
Not knowing what creates this curse.
For it's not natural to try
To cause harm to oneself, thereby
Some grief on someone else to bring;
Of this can come no worthy thing.
What say you of this folly, son?"
Of truth in me there would be none,
Upon the point which you have made
If I denied what I've conveyed
Already of the guilt I bear.
But if for my confession there
Remains on Envy more to say,
Please let me learn of it, I pray.
Mi Sone, that schal wel be do:
Now herkne and ley thin Ere to.
Touchende as of Envious brod
I wot noght on of alle good;
Bot natheles, suche as thei be,
Yit is ther on, and that is he
Which cleped in Detraccioun.
And to conferme his accioun,
He hath withholde Malebouche,
Whos tunge neither pyl ne crouche
Mai hyre, so that he pronounce
A plein good word withoute frounce
Awher behinde a mannes bak.
For thogh he preise, he fint som lak,
Which of his tale is ay the laste,
That al the pris schal overcaste:
And thogh ther be no cause why,
Yit wole he jangle noght forthi,
As he which hath the heraldie
Of hem that usen forto lye.
For as the Netle which up renneth
The freisshe rede Roses brenneth
And makth hem fade and pale of hewe,
Riht so this fals Envious hewe,
In every place wher he duelleth,
With false wordes whiche he telleth
He torneth preisinge into blame
And worschipe into worldes schame.
Of such lesinge as he compasseth,
Is non so good that he ne passeth
Betwen his teeth and is bacbited,
And thurgh his false tunge endited:
Lich to the Scharnebudes kinde,
Of whos nature this I finde,
That in the hoteste of the dai,
Whan comen is the merie Maii,
He sprat his wynge and up he fleth:
And under al aboute he seth
The faire lusti floures springe,
Bot therof hath he no likinge;
Bot where he seth of eny beste
The felthe, ther he makth his feste,
And therupon he wole alyhte,
Ther liketh him non other sihte.
Riht so this janglere Envious,
Thogh he a man se vertuous
And full of good condicioun,
Therof makth he no mencioun:
Bot elles, be it noght so lyte,
Wherof that he mai sette a wyte,
Ther renneth he with open mouth,
Behinde a man and makth it couth.
Bot al the vertu which he can,
That wole he hide of every man,
And openly the vice telle,
As he which of the Scole of helle
Is tawht, and fostred with Envie
Of houshold and of compaignie,
Wher that he hath his propre office
To sette on every man a vice.
How so his mouth be comely,
His word sit evermore awry
And seith the worste that he may.
And in this wise now a day
In loves Court a man mai hiere
Fulofte pleigne of this matiere,
That many envious tale is stered,
Wher that it mai noght ben ansuered;
Bot yit fulofte it is believed,
And many a worthi love is grieved
Thurgh bacbitinge of fals Envie.
If thou have mad such janglerie
In loves Court, mi Sone, er this,
Schrif thee therof. Mi fader, yis:
Bot wite ye how? noght openly,
Bot otherwhile prively,
Whan I my diere ladi mete,
And thenke how that I am noght mete
Unto hire hihe worthinesse,
And ek I se the besinesse
Of al this yonge lusty route,
Whiche alday pressen hire aboute,
And ech of hem his time awaiteth,
And ech of hem his tale affaiteth,
Al to deceive an innocent,
Which woll noght ben of here assent;
And for men sein unknowe unkest,
Hire thombe sche holt in hire fest
So clos withinne hire oghne hond,
That there winneth noman lond;
Sche lieveth noght al that sche hiereth,
And thus fulofte hirself sche skiereth
And is al war of "hadde I wist":-
Bot for al that myn herte arist,
Whanne I thes comun lovers se,
That woll noght holden hem to thre,
Bot welnyh loven overal,
Min herte is Envious withal,
And evere I am adrad of guile,
In aunter if with eny wyle
Thei mihte hire innocence enchaunte.
Forthi my wordes ofte I haunte
Behynden hem, so as I dar,
Wherof my ladi may be war:
I sai what evere comth to mowthe,
And worse I wolde, if that I cowthe;
For whanne I come unto hir speche,
Al that I may enquere and seche
Of such deceipte, I telle it al,
And ay the werste in special.
So fayn I wolde that sche wiste
How litel thei ben forto triste,
And what thei wolde and what thei mente,
So as thei be of double entente:
Thus toward hem that wicke mene
My wicked word was evere grene.
And natheles, the soth to telle,
In certain if it so befelle
That althertrewest man ybore,
To chese among a thousend score,
Which were alfulli forto triste,
Mi ladi lovede, and I it wiste,
Yit rathere thanne he scholde spede,
I wolde swiche tales sprede
To my ladi, if that I myhte,
That I scholde al his love unrihte,
And therto wolde I do mi peine.
For certes thogh I scholde feigne,
And telle that was nevere thoght,
For al this world I myhte noght
To soffre an othre fully winne,
Ther as I am yit to beginne.
For be thei goode, or be thei badde,
I wolde non my ladi hadde;
And that me makth fulofte aspie
And usen wordes of Envie,
Al forto make hem bere a blame.
And that is bot of thilke same,
The whiche unto my ladi drawe,
For evere on hem I rounge and gknawe
And hindre hem al that evere I mai;
And that is, sothly forto say,
Bot only to my lady selve:
I telle it noght to ten ne tuelve,
Therof I wol me wel avise,
To speke or jangle in eny wise
That toucheth to my ladi name,
The which in ernest and in game
I wolde save into my deth;
For me were levere lacke breth
Than speken of hire name amis.
Now have ye herd touchende of this,
Mi fader, in confessioun:
And therfor of Detraccioun
In love, of that I have mispoke,
Tel how ye wole it schal be wroke.
I am al redy forto bere
Mi peine, and also to forbere
What thing that ye wol noght allowe;
For who is bounden, he mot bowe.
So wol I bowe unto youre heste,
For I dar make this beheste,
That I to yow have nothing hid,
Bot told riht as it is betid;
And otherwise of no mispeche,
Mi conscience forto seche,
I can noght of Envie finde,
That I mispoke have oght behinde
Wherof love owhte be mispaid.
Now have ye herd and I have said;
What wol ye, fader, that I do?
Mi Sone, do nomore so,
Bot evere kep thi tunge stille,
Thou miht the more have of thi wille.
For as thou saist thiselven here,
Thi ladi is of such manere,
So wys, so war in alle thinge,
It nedeth of no bakbitinge
That thou thi ladi mis enforme:
For whan sche knoweth al the forme,
How that thiself art envious,
Thou schalt noght be so gracious
As thou peraunter scholdest elles.
Ther wol noman drinke of tho welles
Whiche as he wot is puyson inne;
And ofte swich as men beginne
Towardes othre, swich thei finde,
That set hem ofte fer behinde,
Whan that thei wene be before.
Mi goode Sone, and thou therfore
Bewar and lef thi wicke speche,
Wherof hath fallen ofte wreche
To many a man befor this time.
For who so wole his handes lime,
Thei mosten be the more unclene;
For many a mote schal be sene,
That wolde noght cleve elles there;
And that schold every wys man fere:
For who so wol an other blame,
He secheth ofte his oghne schame,
Which elles myhte be riht stille.
Forthi if that it be thi wille
To stonde upon amendement,
A tale of gret entendement
I thenke telle for thi sake,
Wherof thou miht ensample take.
My son, of Envy more you'll
If to my voice you'll lend an ear.
Of all of those in Envy's brood
Not one is worthy, I conclude;
No matter, be that as it may,
Detraction's evil, I would say,
No other variant exceeds.
To steer his ship of wicked deeds
There sits Badmouthing at the helm,
His tongue may no coin of the realm
Persuade to utter one good word
With no malicious facts inferred;
Behind one's back comes his assault.
So with his praise, he'll find some fault,
Saving till last this fatal blot,
So all his praise will be for naught:
Though there's no reason to assail,
Still he will tell his hurtful tale,
Appareled in a herald's guise
For those whose livelihood is lies.
Like nettles growing in the glade
Will cause the fresh red rose to fade
All pale of hew and limp to get,
Just so this sort of envy, set
On trying everywhere he goes
Some little scandal to expose,
Turns admiration into blame
And good repute to worldly shame.
With all his lies he's not beneath
Refining them as through his teeth
They pass, and thus a scand'lous scourge
Will from his caustic mouth emerge.
And in the scarab beetle's way
Whose nature, in the month of May
When it's the hottest time of day,
Impels him to unfurl his wings
And fly high up above all Spring's
New foliage, where beneath him he
Can all the fairest flowers see,
But in them he no interest takes;
But rather where a meal he makes
Is on a filthy pile of dung;
That's where he likes to stick his tongue,
No other place does he prefer.
Just so the envious who'd slur
A man of virtue who a lot
Of very good points has, he'll not
Of those the slightest mention make:
But rather in the muck he'd rake,
And having found a little fault
He'll with his open mouth assault
Behind the back and make it known.
All virtues in a man he's prone
To try and cover if he can,
But all the vices in a man
He'll tell, this guy who in hell's school
Is taught, where Envy is the rule
In all relationships, his vile
Distinction is that he will pile
On every man a load of dung.
However smooth his hurtful tongue,
His words are filled with slander slung
Around to cause the greatest woe.
And nowadays we see it's so
That in love's court there is much fear
About this thing; we often hear
That many a man will be dispraised
Where no objection can be raised;
Men oft believe such brazen lies
And many a worthy passion dies
Through Envy's ministrations base.
If you have ever shown this face
In love's court up till now, my son,
Confess it now. So I have done:
But how, you ask? Not publicly,
But only confidentially,
When I'm with my beloved who
I fear that I'm not equal to,
Considering her worthiness;
And I see those who love profess
Among the young and lusty lot,
Who all day long behind her trot,
Each one of them his time awaits
And each a story fabricates,
Deceitfully her to enchant,
To get what she'd not freely grant;
And since men say "unknown, unkissed,"
She holds her thumb inside her fist
So very tight for safety's sake;
No man can any headway make;
She won't believe all that they say,
So to their wiles she won't fall prey,
No "if I'd only known" for her.
For that does my heart's passion stir;
When lustful lovers her implore,
Who, not content with three or four,
Will seek to mate with many more,
That's when, for me, in Envy kicks,
And ever I'm afraid of tricks,
In case with their deceitful charms
She might perchance fall in their arms.
Behind their backs I do not spare
My words, as far as I may dare,
To make my lady be aware:
Whatever comes to mouth I say,
And worse, if I could have my way;
For when unto her I may talk,
What dirt I can dig up I stalk
Of such deceit, and not omit
A word about the worst of it.
I want for her to be disgusted
How they all cannot be trusted,
Knowing what they want and mean,
Their thoughts and purposes unseen.
And so towards those who sin intend
My wicked words will never end.
But also, if the truth be told,
As surely as I did behold
The very truest man among
Ten thousand, of whom every tongue
Declared they could be trusted well,
And that my lady for him fell,
Before I'd see him have success,
Such tales I'd tell, I must confess,
Unto my lady, If I could,
Till his love on its head I stood,
Of that I'm guilty, I admit.
If I should have to lie a bit,
Or stretch the truth as I see fit,
For all the world I'd not stand by
And see another score, when I
Remain still at the starting place;
Be they benign or be they base,
I'd see none have my lady's love;
To spy on them I'm guilty of,
Employing Envy's poison speech,
Their reputations to impeach.
But that is only for those who,
Attempt my lady to pursue,
To tear them down I always try
Hoping to hinder them thereby;
But with a straight face I can say
I speak thus not to others, nay
Unto her only I convey
Such things; I think it's well that I
Should try to tarnish any guy
Where it concerns my lady's name;
Against all cunning guile, the same
I would unto my death protect.
I'd rather die than not deflect
That which might tarnish her good name.
And so, since I've confessed my blame,
How often Envy would inflame
My passion, so that I misspoke
With words wrapped in Distraction's cloak,
What stripes pray will my sin relieve
For I am ready to receive
My pain, and cease from that which thou
Wouldst in thy wisdom disallow
For who is servant must obey.
Thus I'll be bound by what you say,
For I do swear to you this oath,
That I to hide things have been loath,
I've told exactly what I've done
And though I search my soul not one
Occasion of misspeach I find
Where I in Envy have behind
Another's back misspoken, where
I had no cause love to impair.
Your question I've now spoken to;
What would ye, father, have me do?
From talk like this, my son, refrain,
And your detracting tongue restrain;
You might have more chance of success.
As I've heard you yourself express,
Your lady is the type, so wise
No wool can be pulled o'er her eyes,
Backbiting is of little use
And will no benefit produce.
For when she sees what it conceals,
How your own envy it reveals,
Less noble will you seem, I fear,
Than you would otherwise appear,
Would you drink from a well if you
That it was poisoned water knew?
It's oft the case, as men compete
With others, whom they would defeat,
They try this, and their hope is fled,
When they before were far ahead.
My good son, keep these things in mind,
And leave your wicked speech behind,
For which to grief have been consigned
Too many men before their time.
If someone soaks their hands in lime,
Then they will seem to be less clean;
For specks of dirt will then be seen.
That otherwise would not adhere,
And that should every wise man fear.
For one who others tries to blame,
Casts doubt upon his own good name,
Which otherwise he might prevent.
And so if it is your intent
Upon a better course to go,
There is a tale that's apropos
I'd like to tell you for your sake,
From which you may instruction take.
|The Saga of Constance|
A worthi kniht in Cristes lawe
Of grete Rome, as is the sawe,
The Sceptre hadde forto rihte;
Tiberie Constantin he hihte,
Whos wif was cleped Ytalie:
Bot thei togedre of progenie
No children hadde bot a Maide;
And sche the god so wel apaide,
That al the wide worldes fame
Spak worschipe of hire goode name.
Constance, as the Cronique seith,
Sche hihte, and was so ful of feith,
That the greteste of Barbarie,
Of hem whiche usen marchandie,
Sche hath converted, as thei come
To hire upon a time in Rome,
To schewen such thing as thei broghte;
Whiche worthili of hem sche boghte,
And over that in such a wise
Sche hath hem with hire wordes wise
Of Cristes feith so full enformed,
That thei therto ben all conformed,
So that baptesme thei receiven
And alle here false goddes weyven.
Whan thei ben of the feith certein,
Thei gon to Barbarie ayein,
And ther the Souldan for hem sente
And axeth hem to what entente
Thei have here ferste feith forsake.
And thei, whiche hadden undertake
The rihte feith to kepe and holde,
The matiere of here tale tolde
With al the hole circumstance.
And whan the Souldan of Constance
Upon the point that thei ansuerde
The beaute and the grace herde,
As he which thanne was to wedde,
In alle haste his cause spedde
To sende for the mariage.
And furthermor with good corage
He seith, be so he mai hire have,
That Crist, which cam this world to save,
He woll believe: and this recorded,
Thei ben on either side acorded,
And therupon to make an ende
The Souldan hise hostages sende
To Rome, of Princes Sones tuelve:
Wherof the fader in himselve
Was glad, and with the Pope avised
Tuo Cardinals he hath assissed
With othre lordes many mo,
That with his doghter scholden go,
To se the Souldan be converted.
Bot that which nevere was wel herted,
Envie, tho began travaile
In destourbance of this spousaile
So prively that non was war.
The Moder which this Souldan bar
Was thanne alyve, and thoghte this
Unto hirself: "If it so is
Mi Sone him wedde in this manere,
Than have I lost my joies hiere,
For myn astat schal so be lassed."
Thenkende thus sche hath compassed
Be sleihte how that sche may beguile
Hire Sone; and fell withinne a while,
Betwen hem two whan that thei were,
Sche feigneth wordes in his Ere,
And in this wise gan to seie:
"Mi Sone, I am be double weie
With al myn herte glad and blithe,
For that miself have ofte sithe
Desired thou wolt, as men seith,
Receive and take a newe feith,
Which schal be forthringe of thi lif:
And ek so worschipful a wif,
The doughter of an Emperour,
To wedde it schal be gret honour.
Forthi, mi Sone, I you beseche
That I such grace mihte areche,
Whan that my doughter come schal,
That I mai thanne in special,
So as me thenkth it is honeste,
Be thilke which the ferste feste
Schal make unto hire welcominge."
The Souldan granteth hire axinge,
And sche therof was glad ynowh:
For under that anon sche drowh
With false wordes that sche spak
Covine of deth behinde his bak.
And therupon hire ordinance
She made so, that whan Constance
Was come forth with the Romeins,
Of clerkes and of Citezeins,
A riche feste sche hem made:
And most whan that thei weren glade,
With fals covine which sche hadde
Hire clos Envie tho sche spradde,
And alle tho that hadden be
Or in apert or in prive
Of conseil to the mariage,
Sche slowh hem in a sodein rage
Endlong the bord as thei be set,
So that it myhte noght be let;
Hire oghne Sone was noght quit,
Bot deide upon the same plit.
Bot what the hihe god wol spare
It mai for no peril misfare:
This worthi Maiden which was there
Stod thanne, as who seith, ded for feere,
To se the feste how that it stod,
Which al was torned into blod:
The Dissh forthwith the Coppe and al
Bebled thei weren overal;
Sche sih hem deie on every side;
No wonder thogh sche wepte and cride
Makende many a wofull mone.
Whan al was slain bot sche al one,
This olde fend, this Sarazine,
Let take anon this Constantine
With al the good sche thider broghte,
And hath ordeined, as sche thoghte,
A nakid Schip withoute stiere,
In which the good and hire in fiere,
Vitailed full for yeres fyve,
Wher that the wynd it wolde dryve,
Sche putte upon the wawes wilde.
Bot he which alle thing mai schilde,
Thre yer, til that sche cam to londe,
Hire Schip to stiere hath take in honde,
And in Northumberlond aryveth;
And happeth thanne that sche dryveth
Under a Castel with the flod,
Which upon Humber banke stod
And was the kynges oghne also,
The which Allee was cleped tho,
A Saxon and a worthi knyht,
Bot he believed noght ariht.
Of this Castell was Chastellein
Elda the kinges Chamberlein,
A knyhtly man after his lawe;
And whan he sih upon the wawe
The Schip drivende al one so,
He bad anon men scholden go
To se what it betokne mai.
This was upon a Somer dai,
The Schip was loked and sche founde;
Elda withinne a litel stounde
It wiste, and with his wif anon
Toward this yonge ladi gon,
Wher that thei founden gret richesse;
Bot sche hire wolde noght confesse,
Whan thei hire axen what sche was.
And natheles upon the cas
Out of the Schip with gret worschipe
Thei toke hire into felaschipe,
As thei that weren of hir glade:
Bot sche no maner joie made,
Bot sorweth sore of that sche fond
No cristendom in thilke lond;
Bot elles sche hath al hire wille,
And thus with hem sche duelleth stille.
Dame Hermyngheld, which was the wif
Of Elda, lich hire oghne lif
Constance loveth; and fell so,
Spekende alday betwen hem two,
Thurgh grace of goddes pourveance
This maiden tawhte the creance
Unto this wif so parfitly,
Upon a dai that faste by
In presence of hire housebonde,
Wher thei go walkende on the Stronde,
A blind man, which cam there lad,
Unto this wif criende he bad,
With bothe hise hondes up and preide
To hire, and in this wise he seide:
"O Hermyngeld, which Cristes feith,
Enformed as Constance seith,
Received hast, yif me my sihte."
Upon his word hire herte afflihte
Thenkende what was best to done,
Bot natheles sche herde his bone
And seide, "In trust of Cristes lawe,
Which don was on the crois and slawe,
Thou bysne man, behold and se."
With that to god upon his kne
Thonkende he tok his sihte anon,
Wherof thei merveile everychon,
Bot Elda wondreth most of alle:
This open thing which is befalle
Concludeth him be such a weie,
That he the feith mot nede obeie.
Now lest what fell upon this thing.
This Elda forth unto the king
A morwe tok his weie and rod,
And Hermyngeld at home abod
Forth with Constance wel at ese.
Elda, which thoghte his king to plese,
As he that thanne unwedded was,
Of Constance al the pleine cas
Als goodliche as he cowthe tolde.
The king was glad and seide he wolde
Come thider upon such a wise
That he him mihte of hire avise,
The time apointed forth withal.
This Elda triste in special
Upon a knyht, whom fro childhode
He hadde updrawe into manhode:
To him he tolde al that he thoghte,
Wherof that after him forthoghte;
And natheles at thilke tide
Unto his wif he bad him ride
To make redi alle thing
Ayein the cominge of the king,
And seith that he himself tofore
Thenkth forto come, and bad therfore
That he him kepe, and told him whanne.
This knyht rod forth his weie thanne;
And soth was that of time passed
He hadde in al his wit compassed
How he Constance myhte winne;
Bot he sih tho no sped therinne,
Wherof his lust began tabate,
And that was love is thanne hate;
Of hire honour he hadde Envie,
So that upon his tricherie
A lesinge in his herte he caste.
Til he cam home he hieth faste,
And doth his ladi tunderstonde
The Message of hire housebonde:
And therupon the longe dai
Thei setten thinges in arrai,
That al was as it scholde be
Of every thing in his degree;
And whan it cam into the nyht,
This wif hire hath to bedde dyht,
Wher that this Maiden with hire lay.
This false knyht upon delay
Hath taried til thei were aslepe,
As he that wolde his time kepe
His dedly werkes to fulfille;
And to the bed he stalketh stille,
Wher that he wiste was the wif,
And in his hond a rasour knif
He bar, with which hire throte he cutte,
And prively the knif he putte
Under that other beddes side,
Wher that Constance lai beside.
Elda cam hom the same nyht,
And stille with a prive lyht,
As he that wolde noght awake
His wif, he hath his weie take
Into the chambre, and ther liggende
He fond his dede wif bledende,
Wher that Constance faste by
Was falle aslepe; and sodeinly
He cride alowd, and sche awok,
And forth withal sche caste a lok
And sih this ladi blede there,
Wherof swoundende ded for fere
Sche was, and stille as eny Ston
She lay, and Elda therupon
Into the Castell clepeth oute,
And up sterte every man aboute,
Into the chambre and forth thei wente.
Bot he, which alle untrouthe mente,
This false knyht, among hem alle
Upon this thing which is befalle
Seith that Constance hath don this dede;
And to the bed with that he yede
After the falshed of his speche,
And made him there forto seche,
And fond the knif, wher he it leide,
And thanne he cride and thanne he seide,
"Lo, seth the knif al blody hiere!
What nedeth more in this matiere
To axe?" And thus hire innocence
He sclaundreth there in audience
With false wordes whiche he feigneth.
Bot yit for al that evere he pleigneth,
Elda no full credence tok:
And happeth that ther lay a bok,
Upon the which, whan he it sih,
This knyht hath swore and seid on hih,
That alle men it mihte wite,
"Now be this bok, which hier is write,
Constance is gultif, wel I wot."
With that the hond of hevene him smot
In tokne of that he was forswore,
That he hath bothe hise yhen lore,
Out of his hed the same stounde
Thei sterte, and so thei weren founde.
A vois was herd, whan that they felle,
Which seide, "O dampned man to helle,
Lo, thus hath god the sclaundre wroke
That thou ayein Constance hast spoke:
Beknow the sothe er that thou dye."
And he told out his felonie,
And starf forth with his tale anon.
Into the ground, wher alle gon,
This dede lady was begrave:
Elda, which thoghte his honour save,
Al that he mai restreigneth sorwe.
For the seconde day a morwe
The king cam, as thei were acorded;
And whan it was to him recorded
What god hath wroght upon this chaunce,
He tok it into remembrance
And thoghte more than he seide.
For al his hole herte he leide
Upon Constance, and seide he scholde
For love of hire, if that sche wolde,
Baptesme take and Cristes feith
Believe, and over that he seith
He wol hire wedde, and upon this
Asseured ech til other is.
And forto make schorte tales,
Ther cam a Bisschop out of Wales
Fro Bangor, and Lucie he hihte,
Which thurgh the grace of god almihte
The king with many an other mo
Hath cristned, and betwen hem tuo
He hath fulfild the mariage.
Bot for no lust ne for no rage
Sche tolde hem nevere what sche was;
And natheles upon the cas
The king was glad, how so it stod,
For wel he wiste and understod
Sche was a noble creature.
The hihe makere of nature
Hire hath visited in a throwe,
That it was openliche knowe
Sche was with childe be the king,
Wherof above al other thing
He thonketh god and was riht glad.
And fell that time he was bestad
Upon a werre and moste ride;
And whil he scholde there abide,
He lefte at hom to kepe his wif
Suche as he knew of holi lif,
Elda forth with the Bisschop eke;
And he with pouer goth to seke
Ayein the Scottes forto fonde
The werre which he tok on honde.
The time set of kinde is come,
This lady hath hire chambre nome,
And of a Sone bore full,
Wherof that sche was joiefull,
Sche was delivered sauf and sone.
The bisshop, as it was to done,
Yaf him baptesme and Moris calleth;
And therupon, as it befalleth,
With lettres writen of record
Thei sende unto here liege lord,
That kepers weren of the qweene:
And he that scholde go betwene,
The Messager, to Knaresburgh,
Which toun he scholde passe thurgh,
Ridende cam the ferste day.
The kinges Moder there lay,
Whos rihte name was Domilde,
Which after al the cause spilde:
For he, which thonk deserve wolde,
Unto this ladi goth and tolde
Of his Message al how it ferde.
And sche with feigned joie it herde
And yaf him yiftes largely,
Bot in the nyht al prively
Sche tok the lettres whiche he hadde,
Fro point to point and overradde,
As sche that was thurghout untrewe,
And let do wryten othre newe
In stede of hem, and thus thei spieke:
"Oure liege lord, we thee beseke
That thou with ous ne be noght wroth,
Though we such thing as is thee loth
Upon oure trowthe certefie.
Thi wif, which is of faierie,
Of such a child delivered is
Fro kinde which stant al amis:
Bot for it scholde noght be seie,
We have it kept out of the weie
For drede of pure worldes schame,
A povere child and in the name
Of thilke which is so misbore
We toke, and therto we be swore,
That non bot only thou and we
Schal knowen of this privete:
Moris it hatte, and thus men wene
That it was boren of the qweene
And of thin oghne bodi gete.
Bot this thing mai noght be foryete,
That thou ne sende ous word anon
What is thi wille therupon."
This lettre, as thou hast herd devise,
Was contrefet in such a wise
That noman scholde it aperceive:
And sche, which thoghte to deceive,
It leith wher sche that other tok.
This Messager, whan he awok,
And wiste nothing how it was,
Aros and rod the grete pas
And tok this lettre to the king.
And whan he sih this wonder thing,
He makth the Messager no chiere,
Bot natheles in wys manere
He wrote ayein, and yaf hem charge
That thei ne soffre noght at large
His wif to go, bot kepe hire stille,
Til thei have herd mor of his wille.
This Messager was yifteles,
Bot with this lettre natheles,
Or be him lief or be him loth,
In alle haste ayein he goth
Be Knaresburgh, and as he wente,
Unto the Moder his entente
Of that he fond toward the king
He tolde; and sche upon this thing
Seith that he scholde abide al nyht
And made him feste and chiere ariht,
Feignende as thogh sche cowthe him thonk.
Bot he with strong wyn which he dronk
Forth with the travail of the day
Was drunke, aslepe and while he lay,
Sche hath hise lettres overseie
And formed in an other weie.
Ther was a newe lettre write,
Which seith: "I do you forto wite,
That thurgh the conseil of you tuo
I stonde in point to ben undo,
As he which is a king deposed.
For every man it hath supposed,
How that my wif Constance is faie;
And if that I, thei sein, delaie
To put hire out of compaignie,
The worschipe of my Regalie
Is lore; and over this thei telle,
Hire child schal noght among hem duelle,
To cleymen eny heritage.
So can I se non avantage,
Bot al is lost, if sche abide:
Forthi to loke on every side
Toward the meschief as it is,
I charge you and bidde this,
That ye the same Schip vitaile,
In which that sche tok arivaile,
Therinne and putteth bothe tuo,
Hireself forthwith hire child also,
And so forth broght unto the depe
Betaketh hire the See to kepe.
Of foure daies time I sette,
That ye this thing no longer lette,
So that your lif be noght forsfet."
And thus this lettre contrefet
The Messager, which was unwar,
Upon the kingeshalve bar,
And where he scholde it hath betake.
Bot whan that thei have hiede take,
And rad that writen is withinne,
So gret a sorwe thei beginne,
As thei here oghne Moder sihen
Brent in a fyr before here yhen:
Ther was wepinge and ther was wo,
Bot finaly the thing is do.
Upon the See thei have hire broght,
Bot sche the cause wiste noght,
And thus upon the flod thei wone,
This ladi with hire yonge Sone:
And thanne hire handes to the hevene
Sche strawhte, and with a milde stevene
Knelende upon hire bare kne
Sche seide, "O hihe mageste,
Which sest the point of every trowthe,
Tak of thi wofull womman rowthe
And of this child that I schal kepe."
And with that word sche gan to wepe,
Swounende as ded, and ther sche lay;
Bot he which alle thinges may
Conforteth hire, and ate laste
Sche loketh and hire yhen caste
Upon hire child and seide this:
"Of me no maner charge it is
What sorwe I soffre, bot of thee
Me thenkth it is a gret pite,
For if I sterve thou schalt deie:
So mot I nedes be that weie
For Moderhed and for tendresse
With al myn hole besinesse
Ordeigne me for thilke office,
As sche which schal be thi Norrice."
Thus was sche strengthed forto stonde;
And tho sche tok hire child in honde
And yaf it sowke, and evere among
Sche wepte, and otherwhile song
To rocke with hire child aslepe:
And thus hire oghne child to kepe
Sche hath under the goddes cure.
And so fell upon aventure,
Whan thilke yer hath mad his ende,
Hire Schip, so as it moste wende
Thurgh strengthe of wynd which god hath yive,
Estward was into Spaigne drive
Riht faste under a Castell wall,
Wher that an hethen Amirall
Was lord, and he a Stieward hadde,
Oon Thelo s, which al was badde,
A fals knyht and a renegat.
He goth to loke in what astat
The Schip was come, and there he fond
Forth with a child upon hire hond
This lady, wher sche was al one.
He tok good hiede of the persone,
And sih sche was a worthi wiht,
And thoghte he wolde upon the nyht
Demene hire at his oghne wille,
And let hire be therinne stille,
That mo men sih sche noght that dai.
At goddes wille and thus sche lai,
Unknowe what hire schal betide;
And fell so that be nyhtes tide
This knyht withoute felaschipe
Hath take a bot and cam to Schipe,
And thoghte of hire his lust to take,
And swor, if sche him daunger make,
That certeinly sche scholde deie.
Sche sih ther was non other weie,
And seide he scholde hire wel conforte,
That he ferst loke out ate porte,
That noman were nyh the stede,
Which myhte knowe what thei dede,
And thanne he mai do what he wolde.
He was riht glad that sche so tolde,
And to the porte anon he ferde:
Sche preide god, and he hire herde,
And sodeinliche he was out throwe
And dreynt, and tho began to blowe
A wynd menable fro the lond,
And thus the myhti goddes hond
Hire hath conveied and defended.
And whan thre yer be full despended,
Hire Schip was drive upon a dai,
Wher that a gret Navye lay
Of Schipes, al the world at ones:
And as god wolde for the nones,
Hire Schip goth in among hem alle,
And stinte noght, er it be falle
And hath the vessell undergete,
Which Maister was of al the Flete,
Bot there it resteth and abod.
This grete Schip on Anker rod;
The Lord cam forth, and whan he sih
That other ligge abord so nyh,
He wondreth what it myhte be,
And bad men to gon in and se.
This ladi tho was crope aside,
As sche that wolde hireselven hide,
For sche ne wiste what thei were:
Thei soghte aboute and founde hir there
And broghten up hire child and hire;
And therupon this lord to spire
Began, fro whenne that sche cam,
And what sche was. Quod sche, "I am
A womman wofully bestad.
I hadde a lord, and thus he bad,
That I forth with my litel Sone
Upon the wawes scholden wone,
Bot why the cause was, I not:
Bot he which alle thinges wot
Yit hath, I thonke him, of his miht
Mi child and me so kept upriht,
That we be save bothe tuo."
This lord hire axeth overmo
How sche believeth, and sche seith,
"I lieve and triste in Cristes feith,
Which deide upon the Rode tree."
"What is thi name?" tho quod he.
"Mi name is Couste," sche him seide:
Bot forthermor for noght he preide
Of hire astat to knowe plein,
Sche wolde him nothing elles sein
Bot of hir name, which sche feigneth;
Alle othre thinges sche restreigneth,
That a word more sche ne tolde.
This lord thanne axeth if sche wolde
With him abide in compaignie,
And seide he cam fro Barbarie
To Romeward, and hom he wente.
Tho sche supposeth what it mente,
And seith sche wolde with him wende
And duelle unto hire lyves ende,
Be so it be to his plesance.
And thus upon here aqueintance
He tolde hire pleinly as it stod,
Of Rome how that the gentil blod
In Barbarie was betraied,
And therupon he hath assaied
Be werre, and taken such vengance,
That non of al thilke alliance,
Be whom the tresoun was compassed,
Is from the swerd alyve passed;
Bot of Constance hou it was,
That cowthe he knowe be no cas,
Wher sche becam, so as he seide.
Hire Ere unto his word sche leide,
Bot forther made sche no chiere.
And natheles in this matiere
It happeth thilke time so:
This Lord, with whom sche scholde go,
Of Rome was the Senatour,
And of hir fader themperour
His brother doughter hath to wyve,
Which hath hir fader ek alyve,
And was Salustes cleped tho;
This wif Heleine hihte also,
To whom Constance was Cousine.
Thus to the sike a medicine
Hath god ordeined of his grace,
That forthwith in the same place
This Senatour his trowthe plihte,
For evere, whil he live mihte,
To kepe in worschipe and in welthe,
Be so that god wol yive hire helthe,
This ladi, which fortune him sende.
And thus be Schipe forth sailende
Hire and hir child to Rome he broghte,
And to his wif tho he besoghte
To take hire into compaignie:
And sche, which cowthe of courtesie
Al that a good wif scholde konne,
Was inly glad that sche hath wonne
The felaschip of so good on.
Til tuelve yeres were agon,
This Emperoures dowhter Custe
Forth with the dowhter of Saluste
Was kept, bot noman redily
Knew what sche was, and noght forthi
Thei thoghten wel sche hadde be
In hire astat of hih degre,
And every lif hire loveth wel.
Now herke how thilke unstable whel,
Which evere torneth, wente aboute.
The king Allee, whil he was oute,
As thou tofore hast herd this cas,
Deceived thurgh his Moder was:
Bot whan that he cam hom ayein,
He axeth of his Chamberlein
And of the Bisschop ek also,
Wher thei the qweene hadden do.
And thei answerde, there he bad,
And have him thilke lettre rad,
Which he hem sende for warant,
And tolde him pleinli as it stant,
And sein, it thoghte hem gret pite
To se so worthi on as sche,
With such a child as ther was bore,
So sodeinly to be forlore.
He axeth hem what child that were;
And thei him seiden, that naghere,
In al the world thogh men it soghte,
Was nevere womman that forth broghte
A fairer child than it was on.
And thanne he axede hem anon,
Whi thei ne hadden write so:
Thei tolden, so thei hadden do.
He seide, "Nay." Thei seiden, "Yis."
The lettre schewed rad it is,
Which thei forsoken everidel.
Tho was it understonde wel
That ther is tresoun in the thing:
The Messager tofore the king
Was broght and sodeinliche opposed;
And he, which nothing hath supposed
Bot alle wel, began to seie
That he nagher upon the weie
Abod, bot only in a stede;
And cause why that he so dede
Was, as he wente to and fro,
At Knaresburgh be nyhtes tuo
The kinges Moder made him duelle.
And whan the king it herde telle,
Withinne his herte he wiste als faste
The treson which his Moder caste;
And thoghte he wolde noght abide,
Bot forth riht in the same tide
He tok his hors and rod anon.
With him ther riden manion,
To Knaresburgh and forth thei wente,
And lich the fyr which tunder hente,
In such a rage, as seith the bok,
His Moder sodeinliche he tok
And seide unto hir in this wise:
"O beste of helle, in what juise
Hast thou deserved forto deie,
That hast so falsly put aweie
With tresoun of thi bacbitinge
The treweste at my knowlechinge
Of wyves and the most honeste?
Bot I wol make this beheste,
I schal be venged er I go."
And let a fyr do make tho,
And bad men forto caste hire inne:
Bot ferst sche tolde out al the sinne,
And dede hem alle forto wite
How sche the lettres hadde write,
Fro point to point as it was wroght.
And tho sche was to dethe broght
And brent tofore hire Sones yhe:
Wherof these othre, whiche it sihe
And herden how the cause stod,
Sein that the juggement is good,
Of that hir Sone hire hath so served;
For sche it hadde wel deserved
Thurgh tresoun of hire false tunge,
Which thurgh the lond was after sunge,
Constance and every wiht compleigneth.
Bot he, whom alle wo distreigneth,
This sorghfull king, was so bestad,
That he schal nevermor be glad,
He seith, eftsone forto wedde,
Til that he wiste how that sche spedde,
Which hadde ben his ferste wif:
And thus his yonge unlusti lif
He dryveth forth so as he mai.
Til it befell upon a dai,
Whan he hise werres hadde achieved,
And thoghte he wolde be relieved
Of Soule hele upon the feith
Which he hath take, thanne he seith
That he to Rome in pelrinage
Wol go, wher Pope was Pelage,
To take his absolucioun.
And upon this condicioun
He made Edwyn his lieutenant,
Which heir to him was apparant,
That he the lond in his absence
Schal reule: and thus be providence
Of alle thinges wel begon
He tok his leve and forth is gon.
Elda, which tho was with him there,
Er thei fulliche at Rome were,
Was sent tofore to pourveie;
And he his guide upon the weie,
In help to ben his herbergour,
Hath axed who was Senatour,
That he his name myhte kenne.
Of Capadoce, he seide, Arcenne
He hihte, and was a worthi kniht.
To him goth Elda tho forth riht
And tolde him of his lord tidinge,
And preide that for his comynge
He wolde assigne him herbergage;
And he so dede of good corage.
Whan al is do that was to done,
The king himself cam after sone.
This Senatour, whan that he com,
To Couste and to his wif at hom
Hath told how such a king Allee
Of gret array to the Citee
Was come, and Couste upon his tale
With herte clos and colour pale
Aswoune fell, and he merveileth
So sodeinly what thing hire eyleth,
And cawhte hire up, and whan sche wok,
Sche syketh with a pitous lok
And feigneth seknesse of the See;
Bot it was for the king Allee,
For joie which fell in hire thoght
That god him hath to toune broght.
This king hath spoke with the Pope
And told al that he cowthe agrope,
What grieveth in his conscience;
And thanne he thoghte in reverence
Of his astat, er that he wente,
To make a feste, and thus he sente
Unto the Senatour to come
Upon the morwe and othre some,
To sitte with him at the mete.
This tale hath Couste noght foryete,
Bot to Moris hire Sone tolde
That he upon the morwe scholde
In al that evere he cowthe and mihte
Be present in the kinges sihte,
So that the king him ofte sihe.
Moris tofore the kinges yhe
Upon the morwe, wher he sat,
Fulofte stod, and upon that
The king his chiere upon him caste,
And in his face him thoghte als faste
He sih his oghne wif Constance;
For nature as in resemblance
Of face hem liketh so to clothe,
That thei were of a suite bothe.
The king was moeved in his thoght
Of that he seth, and knoweth it noght;
This child he loveth kindely,
And yit he wot no cause why.
Bot wel he sih and understod
That he toward Arcenne stod,
And axeth him anon riht there,
If that this child his Sone were.
He seide, "Yee, so I him calle,
And wolde it were so befalle,
Bot it is al in other wise."
And tho began he to devise
How he the childes Moder fond
Upon the See from every lond
Withinne a Schip was stiereles,
And how this ladi helpeles
Forth with hir child he hath forthdrawe.
The king hath understonde his sawe,
The childes name and axeth tho,
And what the Moder hihte also
That he him wolde telle he preide.
"Moris this child is hote," he seide,
"His Moder hatte Couste, and this
I not what maner name it is."
But Allee wiste wel ynowh,
Wherof somdiel smylende he lowh;
For Couste in Saxoun is to sein
Constance upon the word Romein.
Bot who that cowthe specefie
What tho fell in his fantasie,
And how his wit aboute renneth
Upon the love in which he brenneth,
It were a wonder forto hiere:
For he was nouther ther ne hiere,
Bot clene out of himself aweie,
That he not what to thenke or seie,
So fain he wolde it were sche.
Wherof his hertes privete
Began the werre of yee and nay,
The which in such balance lay,
That contenance for a throwe
He loste, til he mihte knowe
The sothe: bot in his memoire
The man which lith in purgatoire
Desireth noght the hevene more,
That he ne longeth al so sore
To wite what him schal betide.
And whan the bordes were aside
And every man was rise aboute,
The king hath weyved al the route,
And with the Senatour al one
He spak and preide him of a bone,
To se this Couste, wher sche duelleth
At hom with him, so as he telleth.
The Senatour was wel appaied,
This thing no lengere is delaied,
To se this Couste goth the king;
And sche was warned of the thing,
And with Heleine forth sche cam
Ayein the king, and he tho nam
Good hiede, and whan he sih his wif,
Anon with al his hertes lif
He cawhte hire in his arm and kiste.
Was nevere wiht that sih ne wiste
A man that more joie made,
Wherof thei weren alle glade
Whiche herde tellen of this chance.
This king tho with his wif Constance,
Which hadde a gret part of his wille,
In Rome for a time stille
Abod and made him wel at ese:
Bot so yit cowthe he nevere plese
His wif, that sche him wolde sein
Of hire astat the trowthe plein,
Of what contre that sche was bore,
Ne what sche was, and yit therfore
With al his wit he hath don sieke.
Thus as they lihe abedde and spieke,
Sche preide him and conseileth bothe,
That for the worschipe of hem bothe,
So as hire thoghte it were honeste,
He wolde an honourable feste
Make, er he wente, in the Cite,
Wher themperour himself schal be:
He graunteth al that sche him preide.
Bot as men in that time seide,
This Emperour fro thilke day
That ferst his dowhter wente away
He was thanne after nevere glad;
Bot what that eny man him bad
Of grace for his dowhter sake,
That grace wolde he noght forsake;
And thus ful gret almesse he dede,
Wherof sche hadde many a bede.
This Emperour out of the toun
Withinne a ten mile enviroun,
Where as it thoghte him for the beste,
Hath sondry places forto reste;
And as fortune wolde tho,
He was duellende at on of tho.
The king Allee forth with thassent
Of Couste his wif hath thider sent
Moris his Sone, as he was taght,
To themperour and he goth straght,
And in his fader half besoghte,
As he which his lordschipe soghte,
That of his hihe worthinesse
He wolde do so gret meknesse,
His oghne toun to come and se,
And yive a time in the cite,
So that his fader mihte him gete
That he wolde ones with him ete.
This lord hath granted his requeste;
And whan the dai was of the feste,
In worschipe of here Emperour
The king and ek the Senatour
Forth with here wyves bothe tuo,
With many a lord and lady mo,
On horse riden him ayein;
Til it befell, upon a plein
Thei sihen wher he was comende.
With that Constance anon preiende
Spak to hir lord that he abyde,
So that sche mai tofore ryde,
To ben upon his bienvenue
The ferste which schal him salue;
And thus after hire lordes graunt
Upon a Mule whyt amblaunt
Forth with a fewe rod this qweene.
Thei wondren what sche wolde mene,
And riden after softe pas;
Bot whan this ladi come was
To themperour, in his presence
Sche seide alowd in audience,
"Mi lord, mi fader, wel you be!
And of this time that I se
Youre honour and your goode hele,
Which is the helpe of my querele,
I thonke unto the goddes myht."
For joie his herte was affliht
Of that sche tolde in remembrance;
And whanne he wiste it was Constance,
Was nevere fader half so blithe.
Wepende he keste hire ofte sithe,
So was his herte al overcome;
For thogh his Moder were come
Fro deth to lyve out of the grave,
He mihte nomor wonder have
Than he hath whan that he hire sih.
With that hire oghne lord cam nyh
And is to themperour obeied;
Bot whan the fortune is bewreied,
How that Constance is come aboute,
So hard an herte was non oute,
That he for pite tho ne wepte.
Arcennus, which hire fond and kepte,
Was thanne glad of that is falle,
So that with joie among hem alle
Thei riden in at Rome gate.
This Emperour thoghte al to late,
Til that the Pope were come,
And of the lordes sende some
To preie him that he wolde haste:
And he cam forth in alle haste,
And whan that he the tale herde,
How wonderly this chance ferde,
He thonketh god of his miracle,
To whos miht mai be non obstacle:
The king a noble feste hem made,
And thus thei weren alle glade.
A parlement, er that thei wente,
Thei setten unto this entente,
To puten Rome in full espeir
That Moris was apparant heir
And scholde abide with hem stille,
For such was al the londes wille.
Whan every thing was fulli spoke,
Of sorwe and queint was al the smoke,
Tho tok his leve Allee the king,
And with full many a riche thing,
Which themperour him hadde yive,
He goth a glad lif forto live;
For he Constance hath in his hond,
Which was the confort of his lond.
For whan that he cam hom ayein,
Ther is no tunge it mihte sein
What joie was that ilke stounde
Of that he hath his qweene founde,
Which ferst was sent of goddes sonde,
Whan sche was drive upon the Stronde,
Be whom the misbelieve of Sinne
Was left, and Cristes feith cam inne
To hem that whilom were blinde.
Bot he which hindreth every kinde
And for no gold mai be forboght,
The deth comende er he be soght,
Tok with this king such aqueintance,
That he with al his retenance
Ne mihte noght defende his lif;
And thus he parteth from his wif,
Which thanne made sorwe ynowh.
And therupon hire herte drowh
To leven Engelond for evere
And go wher that sche hadde levere,
To Rome, whenne that sche cam:
And thus of al the lond sche nam
Hir leve, and goth to Rome ayein.
And after that the bokes sein,
She was noght there bot a throwe,
Whan deth of kinde hath overthrowe
Hir worthi fader, which men seide
That he betwen hire armes deide.
And afterward the yer suiende
The god hath mad of hire an ende,
And fro this worldes faierie
Hath take hire into compaignie.
Moris hir Sone was corouned,
Which so ferforth was abandouned
To Cristes feith, that men him calle
Moris the cristeneste of alle.
And thus the wel meninge of love
Was ate laste set above;
And so as thou hast herd tofore,
The false tunges weren lore,
Whiche upon love wolden lie.
Forthi touchende of this Envie
Which longeth unto bacbitinge,
Be war thou make no lesinge
In hindringe of an other wiht:
And if thou wolt be tawht ariht
What meschief bakbitinge doth
Be other weie, a tale soth
Now miht thou hiere next suiende,
Which to this vice is acordende.
A worthy Christian knight in Rome,
As told in many an ancient tome,
The ruling scepter’s right did claim;
Tiberius Constantine his name,
Whose wife was known as Italy.
They had no child for progeny
Except a single maid, and she
Did please the Lord so well that He
Did cause the world to know her fame
And worshipfully praise her name.
Constance, as history’s records state,
She’s called, and filled with faith so great,
That heathen Moslems of renown
Who brought their wares to trade in town,
She had converted, when to Rome
From time to time unto her home
They came to show all their supplies;
Which at fair price she from them buys,
But more than that, in such a way
Her wise words she to them did say
That of Christ’s faith they learned so well
That they from their Islamic hell
Did turn. For Christian truth they yearned,
And from their false god, Allah, turned.
When solid in the faith they grow,
Back home to Barbary they go,
And there the Sultan for them sent
And asked them why they did consent
Away from their first faith to turn.
And they, who did their false faith spurn
The true faith to accept and hold,
The substance of her message told
Unto the Sultan’s curious ear.
And when of Constance he did hear,
On asking of her form and face,
The beauty she possessed and grace,
Since he was in the mood to marry,
Fast he moves and does not tarry;
Marriage he proposes, and
He says to have her he has planned,
With true intentions in his heart,
From Islam’s ways he will depart
And follow Christ: this bargain signed,
Both sides were of a single mind,
And thereupon this deal to close
The Sultan’s emissary goes
With sons of princes twelve to Rome:
Whereof the father in his home
Rejoiced, and with the pope resolved
That on two cardinals devolved
The duty, with some lords to go
With Constance to the Sultan so
That they might see him find the light.
But that which malice does incite,
Envy, began to rear its head
Distress to bring to those who’d wed,
In stealth so none would be aware.
The one who did this Sultan bear
Was still alive, and thought: ‘If he
Who is my son would married be
Unto an infidel this way,
Then all my joy is gone this day,
For I shall surely live in shame.’
Thus thinking, it became her aim
Deceptively her son to bait;
And so she for a time did wait,
Till they to slumbering were near,
And then she whispered in his ear,
And in this way began to say:
‘My son, with all my heart today
In two ways I am pleased and glad,
For many times for you I’ve had
A wish that you would, as men say,
Receive a brand new way to pray,
That would bring profit to your life:
And gain so worshipful a wife,
The daughter of a ruling king;
To wed her will much honor bring.
Therefore, my son, I’d ask of you,
That when my daughter her debut
Does make, that by your leave I may,
In honor of that special day,
As is most fitting, be the one
Who makes the first feast for my son
To hail and welcome his new bride.’
To humor her he did decide,
And for that she was glad enough.
For under all the genial bluff
Of her false words she laid a black
Design of death behind his back.
And thereupon at her command,
When Constance with her Roman band
Their citizens and clergy came,
This treacherous deceitful dame
A lavish feast for them had spread;
And when they all were finely fed,
With false confederates concealed
Her hidden Envy was revealed,
And all of those who privately
Or in the open did agree
This evil marriage to permit,
She had slain in a sudden fit
Along the table, everyone,
The marriage to prevent; her son
The fate of death, at her behest,
Did suffer as did all the rest.
But what God with his holy arm
Will spare may never come to harm.
This worthy maiden which was here
Stood, as they say, near death from fear,
To see what festal was before,
Had now turned into blood and gore.
The cups and all the dishes there
With blood were covered everywhere.
She saw them die on every side;
No wonder that she wept and cried
Sobbing with many a woeful moan.
When all were slain but her alone,
Then this old pagan Saracen,
Did give command to all her men
To take this maiden born of kings,
Unto a ship, with all her things,
An empty vessel, rudderless,
For her and all she did possess,
Provisioned for five years, no less;
And at the mercy of the gales,
Upon the wild waves off she sails.
But He whose mercy never fails,
Three years, till she was blown to land,
Did steer the ship with His own hand
Which to Northumberland He’d guide.
Beneath a castle, with the tide,
It happened that she came to land,
Which on the Humber’s bank did stand,
And that was where the king, Allee,
As he was called, resided. He
A Saxon was, a worthy knight,
But He did not believe aright.
The chamberlain as Elda known
Attendant to the royal throne,
An honorable man and just,
When he saw where the waves had thrust
The solitary ship, he sends
His men to go, for he intends
The situation to assay.
This was upon a summer’s day,
They searched and found the lady there.
Of this, soon Elda was aware
And with his wife toward this lass
He goes anon, and they a mass
Of treasure and of riches see.
But wholly disinclined was she,
To tell them what she was. But when
They saw her plight decided then
Out of the ship with great regard
To take her in to be their ward,
For in her they took great delight.
But she had no joy at the sight
Of such a land, at which she frowned,
Where Christendom could not be found.
But as her needs were all supplied,
With them in peace she did reside.
Dame Hermyngeld, who was the wife
Of Elda, did as her own life
This Constance love; it happened that,
As they did oft together chat,
Through God’s grace which did them surround
The faith this maiden did expound
Unto this wife so perfectly,
That when, one day while fasting, she
Was with her husband as they each
Went walking down along the beach,
A blind man, which to her was led,
Did cry unto this wife and pled,
With both his hands up in the air
And uttered unto her this prayer:
"O Hermyngeld, who has believed
What Constance taught, and has received
The faith of Christ, my sight restore."
His words did pierce her to the core;
And thinking what was best to do,
Responding to what he did sue
She said, "With faith in Christ’s true way,
Whom they upon the cross did slay,
Thou sightless man, behold and see."
Then unto God upon his knee
He for his sight gave thanks in prayer,
At which all marveled who were there,
But Elda was the most impressed.
This thing that his own eyes attest
Which could in no way be denied,
Made him for Jesus Christ decide.
Now listen to what came to be.
Forth Elda went the king to see;
The next day he was underway,
While Hermyngeld at home did stay
With Constance and in peace did dwell.
Elda, who’d please his lord, would tell,
Since he remained a single king,
Of Constance plainly everything
As well and fully as he could.
The king was glad and said he would
Come on the strength of this report
To meet her and perhaps to court,
So on a time they did decide.
Elda did in a knight confide
Who from his childhood he had known
And with him into manhood grown.
Before him all his thoughts he sets,
Whereof he later had regrets;
For him to ride, he now did ask,
Unto his wife to give the task
Of making ready everything
In preparation for the king.
And said that it was his intent
To come himself to this event,
And bade him go and timely be.
And so this knight rode forth, but he
Already, when he heard that she
So lovely was, was thinking of
A way in which to win her love.
But when he knew it was no use,
He felt his lust for her reduce,
And what was love turned into hate;
And this great Envy did create,
So that a treacherous deceit
He planned with enmity replete.
He hurries home without delay.
To Elda's wife he does convey
The message which her husband sent:
And then a whole long day they spent
Attempting all things to prepare,
Arranging things with special care
To cause a king to take delight;
And when the day turned into night,
Down in her bed this lady laid,
Where she did sleep with this fair maid.
This false knight hung around; he stayed
Till they were both asleep, for he
Would take his time till he could see
His dastardly appointment kept;
And to the bed he softly crept,
Where he knew Elda’s woman slept,
And in his hand he had a knife,
And cut the throat of Elda’s wife,
Then quietly the knife he laid
Under the bed with bloody blade,
Neath Constance on the other side.
Elda came home that night and tried
To be as quiet as he could,
With covered light so that he would
Not wake his wife; his footsteps led
Into the room where he, in bed,
His bleeding wife discovered dead,
Right next to Constance, who was still
Asleep; and Elda feeling ill
Aloud did cry, and startled she
Arose and looked around to see
This lady lying bleeding here,
And fainted dead away from fear,
And she was still as any stone,
And thereupon in rending tone
Throughout the castle sound his cries,
And all abruptly did arise.
And all into the chamber went.
But he, who was on lies intent,
This false knight, wickedly did state
Of Hermyngeld's most ghastly fate
That Constance did the evil deed;
Then to the bed he did proceed
When his false speech was at an end,
And there he searching did pretend,
And found the knife beneath the bed
Where he had hidden it, and said,
"Lo, see this knife all bloody here!
No need to ask more. All is clear"
Thus he assails her innocence
Among this gathered audience
With false words which the truth disguise.
For all his skill in telling lies,
Still Elda thought he smelled a rat:
Upon which it so happened that
This knight a book did notice there;
And on it he to God did swear,
That to all men it might be shown,
‘Now by this book, let it be known
That Constance bears the guilt alone.’
With that the hand of God him smote,
Which did his perjury denote,
So hard that both his eyeballs fled
As in that instance from his head
They both popped out and hit the ground.
And as they fell a voice did sound,
‘O thou man damned to hell,’ it blared
For slandering you’ll not be spared,
For Constance, I avenge your lie:
Confess the truth before you die.’
And he admitted how he’d lied,
And with his tale at once he died.
Into the ground, where all men go
This lady buried was. Although
This Elda's was not stained,
His sorrow could not be contained.
Then two days later came the king,
As was agreed; whereon the thing
That had occurred they did relate,
How at the knight God was irate.
He thought about it hard except
His words unto himself he kept.
His whole affection he did lay
On Constance, and this he did say:
That for her love, if she agreed
He'd be baptized and in Christ's creed
Believe, and in addition he
Proclaimed that she his wife would be,
Whereon they both agreed to court.
And then, to make a long tale short,
There came a Bishop out of Wales,
Lucia who from Bangor hails,
Who by that which God's grace avails
The king had christened, and between
These two, a monarch and his queen,
The marriage he did solemnize.
But neither rage nor curious eyes
The truth about her from her pries.
But still the king was satisfied
With how things were with his new bride.
For he well knew and understood
That she was noble, pure, and good.
And He who nature did create
Did visit her; that she was great
With child by her new mate Allee
Was obvious for all to see,
About which did this happy king
His thanks to God in heaven bring.
And at that time intent was he
Upon a war and he must be
Away; But while engaged in strife,
He left at home to watch his wife
Two men whose holiness he knew,
Both and Elda and the Bishop too.
And with a force he goes to fight
Against the Scottish that he might
Pursue the war they did incite.
The time is come that nature set:
When Constance would a son beget,
Her chamber was this lady's choice,
Wherein she greatly did rejoice,
And gave birth without incident.
The Bishop, as the custom went,
Baptized him; Moris was his name:
And this event they would proclaim
With letters sent unto her lord,
Which they all duly did record,
Who were the keepers of the queen.
And he who'd be the go between,
The messenger, whose route would be
Through Knaresborough, there did he
Arrive the first day, where he found
The mother of Allee, the crowned;
And as Domilda she was known,
By whom destruction's seeds were sown.
For he, who'd thanks and wages rate,
Goes to this lady to relate
His message of the newborn boy.
She listened with pretended joy
And him rewarded handsomely.
But in the night all secretly
She took the letters he did bring,
And point by point changed everything,
As she was utterly untrue,
And in their place wrote something new,
And thus as follows went her speech:
'Our liege and lord, we thee beseech
That with us you'll not angry be,
Though what is loath to thee do we
Attest, on our good faith we stand.
Thy wife, who is from fairy land,
Has given birth unto a kid
At odds with nature, whom we hid
Away; So that no one would peer,
We've kept it under wraps for fear
That we would be the butt of shame.
A common child we gave the name
Of such as she did misconceive,
A ruse that all but us believe;
We've sworn that only we, our king,
Shall know about this secret thing.
Moris it's name, thus men assume
That it came from the queen's own womb
And was of thine own self begotten.
But this may not be forgotten,
So we all shall wait until
You send us word as to thy will.'
This letter, as you've heard was spun,
Was counterfeited such that none
Would realize that anything
Was wrong: And she who would the king
Deceive, did substitute it. When
This messenger awoke he then,
Not knowing what it had inside,
Arose and crossed the great divide
And took this letter to the king.
And when he saw this dreadful thing,
He made no outward show of pain,
But in a manner most humane
In turn he wrote, and gave them charge
That they not suffer her at large
To go about, but keep her still,
Till they have heard more of his will.
This messenger received no pay,
But with this letter anyway,
Whether or not it pleased him, back
He goes in haste along the track
To Knaresborough, where he went
Unto the mother, there he meant
To tell how he had found the king;
And she, when she had heard this thing,
Decided she would him invite
To feast and revel for the night,
Pretending like she him would thank.
But he from strong wine which he drank
And his exhaustion from the day
Fell sleeping drunk, and while he lay,
She took his letter from Allee
And formed another forgery.
Thus wrote Domilda's pen untrue:
'It's my desire you know that through
The secret kept by both of you
My own demise might well ensue,
My fate to be a king deposed.
If it is by all men supposed,
That my wife Constance is possessed,
And if I, so they say distressed,
To cast her off decline to choose,
My kingship I will surely lose;
But added unto this they say,
Her child shall not among them stay,
And no inheritance shall claim.
In this I nothing see but shame;
If she stays all will come to naught.
From every angle I have thought
On this unhappy mishap, and
Now sadly I must you command,
That you provision and equip,
For her and for her son, that ship
In which she first arrived, inside
Of which her and her child shall ride,
And bring it down unto the deep
Entrusting her the sea to keep.
To do this you're allowed four days,
Be certain there are no delays,
Or surely all your lives I'll take.'
And thus this letter, which was fake
The envoy, who was unaware,
Upon the king's behalf did bear,
And where he was directed went.
But when they saw what had been sent,
And they had read what it contained,
Their sorrow could not be restrained,
As if they'd heard their mother's cries
Burned in a fire before their eyes:
They wept in anguish everyone,
But finally the thing was done.
They cast her out upon the sea,
But she knew not the king's decree,
And thus they live upon the flood,
This mother and the king's own blood.
And then with hands stretched to the sky
As one who does on God rely,
She said while kneeling on bare knees,
In soft voice, 'Thou, O Lord, who sees,
All instances of loyalties,
Unto this woeful woman and
This child of mine extend thy hand
In mercy.' And with that she wept
Swooning as dead, and there she slept.
But He who anything can do
Gives comfort, and does her renew;
Whereon she looks and casts her eyes
Upon her child and in this wise
She speaks: 'It matters not what I
Must suffer, but it makes me cry
To think about how you would die
If I should starve. And so I must
If for no other reason, just
For motherhood's sweet providence
With every ounce of diligence
Ordain myself that I might be,
Thy nursemaid here upon this sea.'
Thus she was strengthened to endure;
And then her child to reassure
She nursed, and then from time to time
She wept, and then with voice sublime
She rocked her child to sleep with song.
And thus God's healing made her strong
To keep her own dear child alive.
And in this way they both survive,
Till nearly one whole year had passed.
Her ship, upon the ocean vast,
Was driven by the wind God sent,
So eastward unto Spain it went
Till neath a castle's wall it came,
A Saracen's of naval fame.
And he a Moorish steward had,
One Theloüs, who was all bad,
A renegade inclined to rape.
He goes to look and see what shape
The ship was in, and there did see
This woman with a child, and he
Could tell that all alone was she.
He looked her over well and saw
That she was fully without flaw,
And thought, with lust, when nighttime fell
He would her carnally compel,
But caused her therein to remain,
So other men no access gain
That day. At God's will thus she lay,
Not knowing what might come her way;
And so it was when night arrived
This knight all by himself contrived
Unto the ship to come by boat,
His lustful motives to promote,
And swore that if she trouble made
He'd see she was with death repaid.
Since she could not escape this guy,
She said : "I'll not your lust deny,
But first please o'er the portside peer,
To check that no one else was near,
Who might be witness to our deed,
And then you may fulfill your need."
He was delighted with her pledge,
And so he ventured to the edge.
She prayed, and God did hear her pray,
And he fell off into the bay
And drowned, and then a wind did start
To blow and caused her to depart,
And thus did God's almighty hand
Save her from this Islamic land.
And when three years had fully passed,
One day, where naval ships were massed,
Unto that mighty fleet did float
Her little ship, and to promote
His purpose for that time, Her ship
God made between them all to slip,
And to continue till it came
Unto the vessel all acclaim
To be the master of the fleet,
And there came to a rest complete.
This great ship did at anchor rest;
The lord came forth; at his behest,
When he this other ship did see
So near, and thought what it might be,
He bad his men to go and look.
This lady then herself betook
To go and hide inside; she shook
With fear not knowing who they were;
They looked around and finally her
They found. Her and her child they brought
Unto this lord, whereon he sought
To ask and learn from whence she came,
And who she was. 'I am,' she swore,
"A woman with afflictions sore.
I had a husband who required
That I forth with the child he sired
Should live upon the waves, but I
Know not the cause nor reason why.
But He who knows all things on high,
And whom I thank, has by his might
My child and I so kept upright
That both of us have been preserved."
This lord did ask what God she served,
And she responded, "I believe
In Christ; unto his faith I cleave,
Who on that bloody tree expired."
'What is your name?' he then required.
"My name is Cousta," she replied
But with no luck he further pried
To know the truth of her estate.
She would no other thing relate;
Her fabricated Saxon name
Is all she told him, She became
Completely tight-lipped otherwise.
This lord then looks into her eyes
And asks if she'd live at his home;
Which he informs her was in Rome
To which from Barbary he went.
Then realizing what that meant
For her, she said with him she'd go
And live while she dwelt here below,
If in this he delight would take.
And since they did acquaintance make
He plainly told her what took place,
When those of Rome's most noble race
Were by dark Saracens betrayed,
And how he a commitment made
By warfare such revenge to wreak,
That none in that deceitful clique,
Who this foul treason did contrive,
Would from the sword escape alive;
But as to Constance there's no way
He could have known that of that day
Of which he spoke, she knew too well.
For though the story he did tell,
No feeling did her face express.
But in this matter nonetheless
It happened that it was the case,
This lord, who did her cause embrace,
In Rome did hold a senate seat;
Her father's brother's daughter sweet
Was his dear wife, whose father still
Did live although he was quite ill,
And as Salustes known was he;
This wife Helene was called, and she
Thus unto Constance cousin was.
So for the sick God's grace does cause,
A medicine to be ordained,
That in this home that he maintained
This senator his promise gave
That till he went unto his grave,
He would supply her every need,
As long as God would intercede
To bless this lady fate had sent
To him, and thus by ship they went
To Rome; her and her child he brought,
Where to persuade his wife he sought
To welcome her and take her in.
And gracious, as she's always been
As long as she has been his wife,
That one so good into her life
Had come, gave her great joy in love.
Custance did with the daughter of
The emperor Salustes dwell
For twelve years, but she failed to tell
To any man precisely who
She was, but nonetheless it's true
They thought for sure that she must be
In status one of high degree.
For her all persons love did feel.
Now watch how Fate’s erratic wheel
That's always turning spun around.
The king, Allee, while battle bound,
As you have now already heard,
Deceived was by his mother's word.
When he returned, here's what transpired:
He from his chamberlain required,
And from the bishop too desired,
To know where they had sent his queen.
And they replied that they had seen
This letter which they bade him read,
In which he had her fate decreed,
And so they cast her out to sea,
And said, for one as good as she
There could no greater pity be,
With such child as to her was born,
To be so suddenly forlorn.
He asked to what child they referred;
The answer, in which all concurred,
Was that though men the world around
Might search, no woman would be found
Who had conceived a fairer son.
And then he asked them why not one
Had sent him word to let him know?
They told him that they had done so.
"Nay." said he; to which "Yes." they said.
He showed the letter, which they read;
That they did write it they denied.
Then well they knew that it belied
That there was treason in this thing.
The messenger before the king
Was brought to give some answers; he
Suspecting nothing wrong to be,
In innocence began to say
That he nowhere did on the way,
Except for one place, stop to stay;
The reason that he did was that,
Both going and returning, at
The town of Knaresborough he
The mother of the king did see,
And stayed the night as she desired.
The king then knew how she'd conspired
Her treason to commit. With haste
Since he no time did want to waste,
He in that instant took his horse
And did at once set on his course
With many another rider. They
To Knaresborough went their way,
And like a tinder kindled fire,
His flames of rage shot ever higher,
His mother suddenly he took
And said with a most woeful look:
"O beast from hell, what sort of end
Do you deserve for what you've penned,
You who so falsely caused to flee,
Through treason fed by envy, she
Who was endowed with virtue rife,
My truest and most honest wife?
This promise to you I will make
That ere I go I'll vengeance take."
And then he let a fire be made,
And bade her thereon to be laid.
But first about her sin she spoke,
In detail so that all these folk
Would know how she the letters wrote,
And what she altered in each note.
And then was she brought forth to die
And burned before her son's own eye.
Whereon those who did see this thing
And heard what she'd done to their king,
Saw that the penalty her son
Had chosen was the proper one.
She had it coming, from whose tongue
The falsest tones of treason sprung,
Which through the land was sadly sung;
For Constance everyone does mourn,
But he who is the most forlorn,
This plaintive king, was so distressed,
That he would not, so he confessed,
Again to marriage be disposed,
Until her fate should be disclosed,
She who of wives had been his first.
And with his young life thus accursed
He tried as best he could to fight.
Till one fine day to his delight
When he'd achieved his aim in war,
He thought his soul he might restore
And that the faith he had embraced
Might heal his heart. Since it was based
In Rome, he said he'd go with hope
Upon a pilgrimage, the pope
Pelagius to see, and gain
From him relief from sin and pain.
He Edwin his lieutenant made,
His heir who in his kingdom stayed,
While he was gone, to rule the land.
Thus when Allee with prudence planned
That all might be provided for,
He went forth to that foreign shore.
Elda, who went with him from home,
While they were still a ways from Rome,
To make arrangements forth was sent;
And to his guide, who with him went,
To find where there might lodging be,
Did ask what senator they'd see
That he might call him by his name.
In Capodice, he said, the same
Is called Arcenne, a worthy knight.
His master's travels to recite
He to this knight did go, and said:
'I by my lord was sent ahead
To try and locate board and bed';
Which he did offer them with grace.
When all was ready in this place,
Soon after would the king appear.
This senator, when he comes near
To Cousta and his wife relates:
"A king is at the city gates,
One whom they call Allee awaits."
And Cousta, when she hears this tale
With pounding heart and color pale
Did faint, and he did marvel much
At how she suddenly had such
A seizure. In his arms he took
Her up. She woke with piteous look
And sea sick she did seem to be;
But it was for the king Allee,
For thoughts of joy that God her king
And husband to her town did bring.
This king did with the pope confer
And all which did within him stir
To grieve his conscience, he confessed;
And then he thought it would be best,
For one in his position, ere
He went, a great feast to prepare.
The senator he did invite
Along with others, that all might
Together sit with him to eat.
So Cousta thought it would be mete,
For Moris to be there, and told
Her son to go and to be bold
That whensoe'er he could he should
Be in the king's sight, so he would
Be noticed by the king nearby.
And so before this monarch's eye
Did Moris on the morrow try
To place himself, which did permit
The king to see him quite a bit.
At once he thought that in that face
He could his wife's fair outlines trace.
For in their visage nature chose
To dress this duo in such clothes,
That they seemed from the same cloth cut.
This sight did feelings foster but
The king still does not understand;
He kindly loves this youngster, and
Still he knows not the cause, I fear.
One thing he noticed though, 'twas clear
That he did to Arcenne stand near.
Right on the spot he then inquired
If this young boy was by him sired.
He said, "Well, though I call him son,
And wish that he of mine were one,
Yet it is not at all that way."
And then did he begin to say
How floating on the sea's expanse
The mother of this child by chance
He found within a ship that had
No rudder; how her and this lad,
He from this drifting ship had drawn.
Upon the king began to dawn
The truth, and thus his urgent prayer
Was that Arcenne their names declare,
This mother and the heir she bred.
"Moris this child is called." he said,
"His mother goes by Cousta, though
That kind of name I do not know."
The clue was on Allee not lost,
A smile upon his visage crossed;
For Cousta is the Saxon word
For Constance, which in Rome's preferred.
Of his imaginings no one
Could know the fantasies he spun,
Nor how his mind in circles turned
About the love which in him burned.
To know! how wondrous it would be.
For neither here nor there was he,
But so beside himself that day,
He knew not what to think or say,
That it were she he so desired.
Whereon his inmost thoughts conspired
To wage a war of yea and nay,
Uncertainty did hold such sway,
That he composure no more has,
Until the truth he knows; just as
The state of mind of that man who
In purgatory lies, in lieu
Of wanting heaven is contented,
That he might no more be tormented
To know not what might be in store.
And when the feast was finally o'er
And all from eating did desist,
The king this company dismissed,
And with the senator alone
He spoke and prayed it might be known
To him just where this Cousta dwelled
For he to see her felt compelled.
The senator was gratified;
'So let's not linger,' he replied.
The King to see this Cousta goes;
To her his coming they disclose,
To greet the king Helene she took;
He paused and had a good long look,
And when he saw it was his wife,
Whom he loved more than his own life,
Into each others arms they fell.
No couple ever could excel
In joy that which by them was felt,
Whereof each person's heart did melt
Who heard the story of this pair.
Allee's heart did for Constance care
More than for any other thing;
So for a time abode this king
In Rome, where he in comfort stayed.
But still his wife could not be made
In him her secret to confide;
The truth she still from him did hide,
About the country of her birth,
And who she was, though to unearth
These hidden things he did essay.
They talked once as in bed they lay,
Him she did counsel and implore
That in their honor he, before
He went away, would make a feast,
Which she thought would not in the least
Improper be, within a place,
The emperor himself would grace.
He grants all for which she did pray.
Now as men in that time did say
This emperor from that same day
When first his daughter went away
He n'er again in gladness basked;
When for his daughter's sake men asked
If he to them would grace display,
Her memory he'd not betray.
His works of charity amazed,
For which her name was greatly praised.
This emperor who wears the crown
Within ten miles outside the town,
Had sundry places where he'd stay
When he desired to get away.
As fortune's deck of cards was dealt,
He at one of these places dwelt.
With Constance's consent Allee
Moris, his son, did send to see
The emperor; he was to be
A messenger, so straightaway
He for his father went to say:
'Allee does of your lordship pray
That one who merits honor so
Would to him such great kindness show,
As to your town him to invite,
A time arranging when he might
Unto your city come with wine
And meat, for he would with you dine.'
He indicated he was game.
And when the day for feasting came,
In honor of their emperor
The king and too the senator
Did with both of their wives proceed,
With other lords of noble breed,
To ride; their horses they did spur,
Till on a plain it did occur
That they the emperor did see.
Whereon at once was Cousta's plea
Unto her lord that he remain
Behind, that she across this plain
Might go and be the first to meet
The emperor, whom she would greet.
And thus she, with her lord's consent,
Upon a white mule ambling went;
To ride with her a few were sent,
Who wondered what was her intent.
These at a slower pace did ride;
But when this lady alongside
The emperor did come at last
She said, evoking times long past,
'My lord, my father, well you be!
And now that with my eyes I see
Your good health and your majesty,
Which is the cure for my distress,
My God I thank, my God I bless.'
With joy her father's heart beat fast
Recalling her from days long past;
When he was certain it was she,
No father ever had such glee.
Her he did kiss repeatedly,
Weeping, with joy all overcome;
For even though his mother from
Her grave came forth, from Hades free,
He could not more astonished be
Than when his Constance he did see.
About this time her husband came
And did his loyalty proclaim
Unto the emperor; and when
Men learned of Cousta's story then
No calloused heart could just stand by,
And filled with sympathy not cry.
Arcenne, who'd kept her at his place,
Was glad about this turn of grace,
So in the glow of smiling fate
They all rode through the Roman gate.
The emperor was anxious at
The lateness of the pope, so that
He did some lords dispatch to pray
That he might come without delay;
He hastened forth and when he came
And heard her story, did proclaim
That for the wonder of His ways,
Miraculous, he'd give God praise,
Whose sovereign might may not be blocked.
The king put on a feast that rocked,
A joyous, marvelous event.
Before they went a parliament
They did convene with this intent:
That Rome with hope might look ahead.
Moris, as heir apparent bred,
Would with them in their land remain,
And someday over them would reign.
When all was said, of parting's pain,
And all its sorrows did subside,
Then king Allee prepared to ride,
With presents from the emperor,
Abundant bounty which he bore,
To go and live a blissful life;
For in his hand he had his wife;
For this his land would be relieved.
And when back home he was received,
No tongue could find the words to tell
How every heart with joy did swell
Because Allee his queen had found,
Whom first God saved from being drowned,
Then her He drove up on the ground,
Her by whom unbelievers bound
In sin left misbelief behind,
And Christ's faith came to those once blind.
But he that strikes down all the old
And may not be deterred for gold,
Death, coming prematurely made
Acquaintance with this king; no aid
From all his armies trained in strife,
Were any use to save his life;
And so he parted from his wife,
Whose grief was great, and thereupon
As she grew old her heart was drawn
From England to depart for good
Returning where she thought she should,
The cradle of her life, her Rome.
And thus she left her English home,
And unto Rome returned again.
From here the story goes that when
She had but a short while been there
Death visited and did not spare
Her father; she was at his side
And in her arms the old man died.
And then in the ensuing year
She left this evanescent sphere.
Now God and angels her surround.
And when her noble son was crowned,
As he believed so did he act
According to his faith, in fact
Of all Rome's emperors, bar none,
Moris was the most Christian one.
And thus love's pure intent prevailed
While in the end Distraction failed;
And so as you have heard before,
False tongues fell silent, nevermore
To try with lies to cut love short.
So as to Envy of this sort
Which unto slander does pertain,
Be careful not to try and rain
Upon another man's parade.
But you I might perhaps persuade
Some other way the grief to know
Caused by backbiting tongues, and so
A tale I'll tell this truth to show,
Which of this vice is apropos.
|Demetrius and Perseus|
In a Cronique, as thou schalt wite,
A gret ensample I finde write,
Which I schal telle upon this thing.
Philippe of Macedoyne kyng
Two Sones hadde be his wif,
Whos fame is yit in Grece rif:
Demetrius the ferste brother
Was hote, and Perse s that other.
Demetrius men seiden tho
The betre knyht was of the tuo,
To whom the lond was entendant,
As he which heir was apparant
To regne after his fader dai:
Bot that thing which no water mai
Quenche in this world, bot evere brenneth,
Into his brother herte it renneth,
The proude Envie of that he sih
His brother scholde clymbe on hih,
And he to him mot thanne obeie:
That may he soffre be no weie.
With strengthe dorst he nothing fonde,
So tok he lesinge upon honde,
Whan he sih time and spak therto.
For it befell that time so,
His fader grete werres hadde
With Rome, whiche he streite ladde
Thurgh mihty hond of his manhode,
As he which hath ynowh knihthode,
And ofte hem hadde sore grieved.
Bot er the werre were achieved,
As he was upon ordinance
At hom in Grece, it fell per chance,
Demetrius, which ofte aboute
Ridende was, stod that time oute,
So that this Perse in his absence,
Which bar the tunge of pestilence,
With false wordes whiche he feigneth
Upon his oghne brother pleigneth
In privete behinde his bak,
And to his fader thus he spak:
"Mi diere fader, I am holde
Be weie of kinde, as resoun wolde,
That I fro yow schal nothing hide,
Which mihte torne in eny side
Of youre astat into grevance:
Forthi myn hertes obeissance
Towardes you I thenke kepe;
For it is good ye take kepe
Upon a thing which is me told.
Mi brother hath ous alle sold
To hem of Rome, and you also;
For thanne they behote him so,
That he with hem schal regne in pes.
Thus hath he cast for his encress
That youre astat schal go to noght;
And this to proeve schal be broght
So ferforth, that I undertake
It schal noght wel mow be forsake."
The king upon this tale ansuerde
And seide, "If this thing which he herde
Be soth and mai be broght to prove,
It schal noght be to his behove,
Which so hath schapen ous the werste,
For he himself schal be the ferste
That schal be ded, if that I mai."
Thus afterward upon a dai,
Whan that Demetrius was come,
Anon his fader hath him nome,
And bad unto his brother Perse
That he his tale schal reherse
Of thilke tresoun which he tolde.
And he, which al untrowthe wolde,
Conseileth that so hih a nede
Be treted wher as it mai spede,
In comun place of juggement.
The king therto yaf his assent,
Demetrius was put in hold,
Wherof that Perse s was bold.
Thus stod the trowthe under the charge,
And the falshede goth at large,
Which thurgh beheste hath overcome
The greteste of the lordes some,
That privelich of his acord
Thei stonde as witnesse of record:
The jugge was mad favorable:
Thus was the lawe deceivable
So ferforth that the trowthe fond
Rescousse non, and thus the lond
Forth with the king deceived were.
The gulteles was dampned there
And deide upon accusement:
Bot such a fals conspirement,
Thogh it be prive for a throwe,
Godd wolde noght it were unknowe;
And that was afterward wel proved
In him which hath the deth controved.
Of that his brother was so slain
This Perse s was wonder fain,
As he that tho was apparant,
Upon the Regne and expectant;
Wherof he wax so proud and vein,
That he his fader in desdeign
Hath take and set of non acompte,
As he which thoghte him to surmonte;
That wher he was ferst debonaire,
He was tho rebell and contraire,
And noght as heir bot as a king
He tok upon him alle thing
Of malice and of tirannie
In contempt of the Regalie,
Livende his fader, and so wroghte,
That whan the fader him bethoghte
And sih to whether side it drowh,
Anon he wiste well ynowh
How Perse after his false tunge
Hath so thenvious belle runge,
That he hath slain his oghne brother.
Wherof as thanne he knew non other,
Bot sodeinly the jugge he nom,
Which corrupt sat upon the dom,
In such a wise and hath him pressed,
That he the sothe him hath confessed
Of al that hath be spoke and do.
Mor sori than the king was tho
Was nevere man upon this Molde,
And thoghte in certain that he wolde
Vengance take upon this wrong.
Bot thother parti was so strong,
That for the lawe of no statut
Ther mai no riht ben execut;
And upon this division
The lond was torned up so doun:
Wherof his herte is so distraght,
That he for pure sorwe hath caght
The maladie of which nature
Is queint in every creature.
And whan this king was passed thus,
This false tunged Perse s
The regiment hath underfonge.
Bot ther mai nothing stonde longe
Which is noght upon trowthe grounded;
For god, which alle thing hath bounded
And sih the falshod of his guile,
Hath set him bot a litel while,
That he schal regne upon depos;
For sodeinliche as he aros
So sodeinliche doun he fell.
In thilke time it so befell,
This newe king of newe Pride
With strengthe schop him forto ride,
And seide he wolde Rome waste,
Wherof he made a besi haste,
And hath assembled him an host
In al that evere he mihte most:
What man that mihte wepne bere
Of alle he wolde non forbere;
So that it mihte noght be nombred,
The folk which after was encombred
Thurgh him, that god wolde overthrowe.
Anon it was at Rome knowe,
The pompe which that Perse ladde;
And the Romeins that time hadde
A Consul, which was cleped thus
Be name, Paul Emilius,
A noble, a worthi kniht withalle;
And he, which chief was of hem alle,
This werre on honde hath undertake.
And whanne he scholde his leve take
Of a yong dowhter which was his,
Sche wepte, and he what cause it is
Hire axeth, and sche him ansuerde
That Perse is ded; and he it herde,
And wondreth what sche meene wolde:
And sche upon childhode him tolde
That Perse hir litel hound is ded.
With that he pulleth up his hed
And made riht a glad visage,
And seide how that was a presage
Touchende unto that other Perse,
Of that fortune him scholde adverse,
He seith, for such a prenostik
Most of an hound was to him lik:
For as it is an houndes kinde
To berke upon a man behinde,
Riht so behinde his brother bak
With false wordes whiche he spak
He hath do slain, and that is rowthe.
"Bot he which hateth alle untrowthe,
The hihe god, it schal redresse;
For so my dowhter prophetesse
Forth with hir litel houndes deth
Betokneth." And thus forth he geth
Conforted of this evidence,
With the Romeins in his defence
Ayein the Greks that ben comende.
This Perse s, as noght seende
This meschief which that him abod,
With al his multitude rod,
And prided him upon the thing,
Of that he was become a king,
And how he hadde his regne gete;
Bot he hath al the riht foryete
Which longeth unto governance.
Wherof thurgh goddes ordinance
It fell, upon the wynter tide
That with his host he scholde ride
Over Danubie thilke flod,
Which al befrose thanne stod
So harde, that he wende wel
To passe: bot the blinde whiel,
Which torneth ofte er men be war,
Thilke ys which that the horsmen bar
Tobrak, so that a gret partie
Was dreint; of the chivalerie
The rerewarde it tok aweie,
Cam non of hem to londe dreie.
Paulus the worthi kniht Romein
Be his aspie it herde sein,
And hasteth him al that he may,
So that upon that other day
He cam wher he this host beheld,
And that was in a large feld,
Wher the Baneres ben desplaied.
He hath anon hise men arraied,
And whan that he was embatailled,
He goth and hath the feld assailed,
And slowh and tok al that he fond;
Wherof the Macedoyne lond,
Which thurgh king Alisandre honoured
Long time stod, was tho devoured.
To Perse and al that infortune
Thei wyte, so that the comune
Of al the lond his heir exile;
And he despeired for the while
Desguised in a povere wede
To Rome goth, and ther for nede
The craft which thilke time was,
To worche in latoun and in bras,
He lerneth for his sustienance.
Such was the Sones pourveance,
And of his fader it is seid,
In strong prisoun that he was leid
In Albe, wher that he was ded
For hunger and defalte of bred.
The hound was tokne and prophecie
That lich an hound he scholde die,
Which lich was of condicioun,
Whan he with his detraccioun
Bark on his brother so behinde.
Lo, what profit a man mai finde,
Which hindre wole an other wiht.
Forthi with al thin hole miht,
Mi Sone, eschuie thilke vice.
Mi fader, elles were I nyce:
For ye therof so wel have spoke,
That it is in myn herte loke
And evere schal: bot of Envie,
If ther be more in his baillie
Towardes love, sai me what.
A record, as you soon shall see,
There is which I shall tell to thee,
Which touches on this vice. The king
Of Macedonia did bring
Two sons into this world two brothers
Sired by him of different mothers,
Demetrius the first one's name,
Then Perseus of later fame.
Demetrius the land did toast,
He was the knight they noticed most
Acclaimed the better of the pair,
This first born, the apparent heir
Destined his father's throne to claim.
No water can put out that flame
That burns eternally, which came
Into his brother's heart when he
Did through a cloud of Envy see
His brother should exalted be,
Then he would have to him obey.
Would he submit to that? No way!
He dared not try to use armed might
So he would, when the time was right,
Defaming speech and lying use.
For in those days of wars and coups,
Great wars his father Phillip fought
With Rome, and much destruction wrought
Through his courageous mighty hand,
For he with valor did command,
And his opponents sorely grieved.
But ere the victory was achieved,
By chance, when he to Greece returned
To get fresh ordinance, he learned
Demetrius, who oft around
Did ride, was nowhere to be found;
So Perseus. with tainted tongue
Since he was gone, aspersions flung;
With words dissembling, which he feigned,
About his brother he complained;
Behind his back he did unto
His father speak these words untrue:
"My father, I feel duty bound
To tell of something I have found;
Since we are kin I'll nothing hide,
And in you everything confide.
What might bring grief to your estate
I feel my duty to relate,
Since loyalty to you I swear;
It's good that you should be aware
Of something shocking; I'm afraid
My brother has us all betrayed;
He sold us out to Rome, for they
Did promises to him convey
That he would reign with them in peace.
Thus he chose, for his own increase,
That your estate should come to naught;
The proof of this shall soon be brought
To light, I know it does exist
And must not lightly be dismissed."
The king on hearing this replied,
"If this thing which you have implied
Is true and can be proven so,
It shall not benefit my foe,
Who has this perfidy prepared;
He'll find his life will not be spared,
He'll die first, if I have my way."
Thus sometime later on the day
When they Demetrius behold,
His father had him seized, and told
His brother Perseus to say
What he had said about the way
Demetrius had treason planned
And he, who for untruth did stand,
Suggested that so grave a case
Be handled quickly, in the place
Of common judgment, and the king
Gave his approval for this thing.
Demetrius was thus detained,
While Perseus his honor stained.
And thus all of his charges stood,
His evil all regard as good,
For he had managed to persuade
The greatest of the lords, who made
A secret pact to testify
As witnesses to every lie:
The verdict was a guilty one,
And thus there was no justice done.
The truth was such a casualty
His innocence not one could see;
They and the king were all deceived.
The guiltless one arraigned received
A death which he did not deserve.
This false accuser, we'll observe,
Though he would hide his dark design,
God would let light upon it shine,
And soon enough expose the lies
Of him who did this scheme devise.
And that his brother did not live
Did Perseus much pleasure give,
For now his father's heir he'd be;
Filled with anticipation he,
Began to grow all proud and vain;
He for his father felt disdain,
And envied him his royal role,
Thinking that him he might control;
Where once he was submissive, now
He is rebellious seeking how
To act the king and not the heir
And so he now begins to dare,
With tyranny and malice, to
Show his contempt for what was due
His living father, and his acts
Were such his father saw the facts
And seeing where they tended, now
He realized quite clearly how
This Perseus's clanging tongue
So much the bell of Envy rung,
That he had his own brother slain.
So moved by his bereavement's pain,
He suddenly the judge did take
Down from his bench, the lying snake,
And had him tortured till he spake
And did a full confession make
Of all that had been said and done.
Of comfort this king's heart felt none,
No man had ever felt so glum.
Then he to this resolve did come.
That vengeance on this wrong he'd wreak.
But his side had become so weak,
The law had been subverted so,
The righteous could no justice know.
As this division was discerned
The whole land upside down was turned,
Which caused him to be so distraught,
That he from sheer distraction caught
A case of that malaise that makes
One languish, and one's spirit breaks.
And while the king was in these pains,
This false-tongued Perseus the reigns
Of rulership did grab in Greece.
But nothing may long stand in peace
Which is not based on truth, for God
All things hath bounded by His rod;
He sees the falsehood of his guile
And gives him but a little while,
That he shall hold on to his reign.
As fast as he the throne did gain
Just so he quickly down did fall.
No sooner did they him install,
Than this new king with new Conceit
Did raise an army and a fleet,
And vowed he would to Rome lay waste,
Whereon with vigor he made haste;
Determined was he that he would
Call up the largest host he could.
Of all those who could weapons use;
There was not one whom he'd excuse;
No army ever had surpassed
In number those who were amassed
By him, that down God soon would cast.
It didn't take Rome very long
To learn of Perseus' legions strong;
Among the Roman consuls none
At that time were as great as one
Emilius, his first name Paul,
A noble, worthy knight withal.
And he who all the rest commands
Did take this war in his own hands.
And when he was about to go
To war his little daughter so
Distraught was that he asked her why
She wept, and she replied: 'I cry
For Perseus is dead.' When he
Did wonder what she meant then she
Befitting childhood simply said
That Perse her little dog was dead.
With that he lifted up his head
And on his face appeared a grin;
He said there was an omen in
Her words prophetic which to Perse
The man pertain, whom fate should curse;
A hound would as a token be
Appropriate for him, as he
Just like a hound would be inclined
To bark approaching from behind,
Just as behind his brother's back
He did with lying words attack
Which caused him tragically to die.
But He which hateth every lie
The Most High God, shall sin redress:
For so this daughter prophetess
Betokened with her dog that died.
This evidence did him provide
Great confidence as forth he went
With Romans at his side, hell bent
To kill Greeks soldiers who advanced.
This Perseus, who proudly pranced
Not seeing all the grief in store,
Rode at the head of his huge corps,
With satisfaction smug that he
Could march in royal majesty,
Proud of how he had come to reign.
But he all virtues did disdain
Which unto governing pertain.
And so as Heaven did ordain
It happened, in the winter's cold
That with his host he would be bold
To ride across the Danube's ice
Whose hardness he thought would suffice
To make it possible to pass,
But blind to Fortune's wheel, alas,
Which turns when men are least aware,
This ice, which did the horsemen bear,
Broke up, and many men were drowned;
Those knights who never reached dry ground
Included all the rear guard who
Beneath ice faded all from view.
Paulus the worthy Roman heard
From his returning spies the word
Of what had happened to his foe;
So quickly he did haste to go
Until he saw spread out below
In a large field this remnant host,
Where they did many a banner boast.
His men he marshaled for the fray,
And when prepared for battle they
Went forth and every man did slay
Or take, who in the field they found;
Thus Macedonia, renowned
For Alexander, they invade
And all the land to waste was laid.
For all this Perse could not evade
The blame, so that the people all
For exile of his heir did call;
This heir bereft of hope did wear
A beggar's clothes, and in despair
To Rome did go, and out of need
Himself to house, and clothe, and feed,
To work in bronze and brass he learned,
By which his sustenance he earned.
Like this the son did earn his bread,
And of his father it is said,
That to a prison he was led
And in Albania, ill fed,
Away he wasted till he died.
His fate was aptly prophesied
When to a dog he was compared;
The token of a hound dog squared
For he, to envying inclined
Barked on his brother from behind.
No profit is there in the role
Of slandering another soul.
Therefore with all thy might, my son,
I would advise, this vice to shun."
My father, elsewise I'd be slow:
Your wise words have impressed me so,
That they are locked forever in
My heart. But if there's more this sin
Of Envy has to do with love,
Pray school me in the lore thereof.
|Dissimulation and its Confederate, Hypocrisy|
Mi Sone, as guile under the hat
With sleyhtes of a tregetour
Is hidd, Envie of such colour
Hath yit the ferthe deceivant,
The which is cleped Falssemblant,
Wherof the matiere and the forme
Now herkne and I thee schal enforme.
Of Falssemblant if I schal telle,
Above alle othre it is the welle
Out of the which deceipte floweth.
Ther is noman so wys that knoweth
Of thilke flod which is the tyde,
Ne how he scholde himselven guide
To take sauf passage there.
And yit the wynd to mannes Ere
Is softe, and as it semeth oute
It makth clier weder al aboute;
Bot thogh it seme, it is noght so.
For Falssemblant hath everemo
Of his conseil in compaignie
The derke untrewe Ypocrisie,
Whos word descordeth to his thoght:
Forthi thei ben togedre broght
Of o covine, of on houshold,
As it schal after this be told.
Of Falssemblant it nedeth noght
To telle of olde ensamples oght;
For al dai in experience
A man mai se thilke evidence
Of faire wordes whiche he hiereth;
Bot yit the barge Envie stiereth
And halt it evere fro the londe,
Wher Falssemblant with Ore on honde
It roweth, and wol noght arive,
Bot let it on the wawes dryve
In gret tempeste and gret debat,
Wherof that love and his astat
Empeireth. And therfore I rede,
Mi Sone, that thou fle and drede
This vice, and what that othre sein,
Let thi Semblant be trewe and plein.
For Falssemblant is thilke vice,
Which nevere was withoute office:
Wher that Envie thenkth to guile,
He schal be for that ilke while
Of prive conseil Messagier.
For whan his semblant is most clier,
Thanne is he most derk in his thoght,
Thogh men him se, thei knowe him noght;
Bot as it scheweth in the glas
Thing which therinne nevere was,
So scheweth it in his visage
That nevere was in his corage:
Thus doth he al his thing with sleyhte.
Now ley thi conscience in weyhte,
Mi goode Sone, and schrif the hier,
If thou were evere Custummer
To Falssemblant in eny wise.
For ought I can me yit avise,
Mi goode fader, certes no.
If I for love have oght do so,
Now asketh, I wol praie yow:
For elles I wot nevere how
Of Falssemblant that I have gilt.
Mi Sone, and sithen that thou wilt
That I schal axe, gabbe noght,
Bot tell if evere was thi thoght
With Falssemblant and coverture
To wite of eny creature
How that he was with love lad;
So were he sori, were he glad,
Whan that thou wistest how it were,
Al that he rounede in thin Ere
Thou toldest forth in other place,
To setten him fro loves grace
Of what womman that thee beste liste,
Ther as noman his conseil wiste
Bot thou, be whom he was deceived
Of love, and from his pourpos weyved;
And thoghtest that his destourbance
Thin oghne cause scholde avance,
As who saith, "I am so celee,
Ther mai no mannes privete
Be heled half so wel as myn."
Art thou, mi Sone, of such engin?
Tell on. Mi goode fader, nay
As for the more part I say;
Bot of somdiel I am beknowe,
That I mai stonde in thilke rowe
Amonges hem that Saundres use.
I wol me noght therof excuse,
That I with such colour ne steyne,
Whan I my beste Semblant feigne
To my felawh, til that I wot
Al his conseil bothe cold and hot:
For be that cause I make him chiere,
Til I his love knowe and hiere;
And if so be myn herte soucheth
That oght unto my ladi toucheth
Of love that he wol me telle,
Anon I renne unto the welle
And caste water in the fyr,
So that his carte amidd the Myr,
Be that I have his conseil knowe,
Fulofte sithe I overthrowe,
Whan that he weneth best to stonde.
Bot this I do you understonde,
If that a man love elles where,
So that my ladi be noght there,
And he me telle, I wole it hide,
Ther schal no word ascape aside,
For with deceipte of no semblant
To him breke I no covenant;
Me liketh noght in other place
To lette noman of his grace,
Ne forto ben inquisitif
To knowe an other mannes lif:
Wher that he love or love noght,
That toucheth nothing to my thoght,
Bot al it passeth thurgh myn Ere
Riht as a thing that nevere were,
And is foryete and leid beside.
Bot if it touche on eny side
Mi ladi, as I have er spoken,
Myn Eres ben noght thanne loken;
For certes, whanne that betitt,
My will, myn herte and al my witt
Ben fully set to herkne and spire
What eny man wol speke of hire.
Thus have I feigned compaignie
Fulofte, for I wolde aspie
What thing it is that eny man
Telle of mi worthi lady can:
And for tuo causes I do this,
The ferste cause wherof is,-
If that I myhte ofherkne and seke
That eny man of hire mispeke,
I wolde excuse hire so fully,
That whan sche wist in inderly,
Min hope scholde be the more
To have hir thank for everemore.
That other cause, I you assure,
Is, why that I be coverture
Have feigned semblant ofte time
To hem that passen alday byme
And ben lovers als wel as I,
For this I weene trewely,
That ther is of hem alle non,
That thei ne loven everich on
Mi ladi: for sothliche I lieve
And durste setten it in prieve,
Is non so wys that scholde asterte,
Bot he were lustles in his herte,
Forwhy and he my ladi sihe,
Hir visage and hir goodlych yhe,
Bot he hire lovede, er he wente.
And for that such is myn entente,
That is the cause of myn aspie,
Why that I feigne compaignie
And make felawe overal;
For gladly wolde I knowen al
And holde me covert alway,
That I fulofte ye or nay
Ne liste ansuere in eny wise,
Bot feigne semblant as the wise
And herkne tales, til I knowe
Mi ladi lovers al arowe.
And whanne I hiere how thei have wroght,
I fare as thogh I herde it noght
And as I no word understode;
Bot that is nothing for here goode:
For lieveth wel, the sothe is this,
That whanne I knowe al how it is,
I wol bot forthren hem a lite,
Bot al the worste I can endite
I telle it to my ladi plat
In forthringe of myn oghne astat,
And hindre hem al that evere I may.
Bot for al that yit dar I say,
I finde unto miself no bote,
Althogh myn herte nedes mote
Thurgh strengthe of love al that I hiere
Discovere unto my ladi diere:
For in good feith I have no miht
To hele fro that swete wiht,
If that it touche hire eny thing.
Bot this wot wel the hevene king,
That sithen ferst this world began,
Unto non other strange man
Ne feigned I semblant ne chiere,
To wite or axe of his matiere,
Thogh that he lovede ten or tuelve,
Whanne it was noght my ladi selve:
Bot if he wolde axe eny red
Al onlich of his oghne hed,
How he with other love ferde,
His tales with myn Ere I herde,
Bot to myn herte cam it noght
Ne sank no deppere in my thoght,
Bot hield conseil, as I was bede,
And tolde it nevere in other stede,
Bot let it passen as it com.
Now, fader, say what is thi dom,
And hou thou wolt that I be peined
For such Semblant as I have feigned.
Mi Sone, if reson be wel peised,
Ther mai no vertu ben unpreised
Ne vice non be set in pris.
Forthi, my Sone, if thou be wys,
Do no viser upon thi face,
Which as wol noght thin herte embrace:
For if thou do, withinne a throwe
To othre men it schal be knowe,
So miht thou lihtli falle in blame
And lese a gret part of thi name.
And natheles in this degree
Fulofte time thou myht se
Of suche men that now aday
This vice setten in a say:
I speke it for no mannes blame,
Bot forto warne thee the same.
Mi Sone, as I mai hiere talke
In every place where I walke,
I not if it be so or non,
Bot it is manye daies gon
That I ferst herde telle this,
How Falssemblant hath ben and is
Most comunly fro yer to yere
With hem that duelle among ous here,
Of suche as we Lombardes calle.
For thei ben the slyeste of alle,
So as men sein in toune aboute,
To feigne and schewe thing withoute
Which is revers to that withinne:
Wherof that thei fulofte winne,
Whan thei be reson scholden lese;
Thei ben the laste and yit thei chese,
And we the ferste, and yit behinde
We gon, there as we scholden finde
The profit of oure oghne lond:
Thus gon thei fre withoute bond
To don her profit al at large,
And othre men bere al the charge.
Of Lombardz unto this covine,
Whiche alle londes conne engine,
Mai Falssemblant in special
Be likned, for thei overal,
Wher as they thenken forto duelle,
Among hemself, so as thei telle,
Ferst ben enformed forto lere
A craft which cleped is Fa crere:
For if Fa crere come aboute,
Thanne afterward hem stant no doute
To voide with a soubtil hond
The beste goodes of the lond
And bringe chaf and take corn.
Where as Fa crere goth toforn,
In all his weie he fynt no lette;
That Dore can non huissher schette
In which him list to take entre:
And thus the conseil most secre
Of every thing Fa crere knoweth,
Which into strange place he bloweth,
Where as he wot it mai most grieve.
And thus Fa crere makth believe,
So that fulofte he hath deceived,
Er that he mai ben aperceived.
Thus is this vice forto drede;
For who these olde bokes rede
Of suche ensamples as were ar,
Him oghte be the more war
Of alle tho that feigne chiere,
Wherof thou schalt a tale hiere.
My son, as
a magician's hat
Deceit conceals, be cautioned that
Sly Envy comes to cause distress
In yet a fourth deceptive dress
We call Dissimulation. So
Now hearken and I'll let you know
The substance and the form thereof.
Dissimulation stands above
All others; it's the well, the source,
Determining deception's course.
Of this flood there's no man so wise
To know just when it's tide will rise,
Nor how to steer himself to gain
Safe passage through the raging main.
Although the wind may to man's ear
Seem soft, so that it may appear
The weather is all fair and clear;
It will not for much longer be.
The dark, untrue Hypocrisy,
Whose words do not his thoughts convey,
Is always near to show the way.
Confederated brethren, they
Are both unto the other bound,
As I shall soon to thee expound..
But of Dissimulation we
Don't old examples need to see;
For in our daily lives we may
See evidence of how men say
The fairest words for us to hear,
But Envy does the vessel steer
To keep it ever from the land.
Dissimulation, oar in hand,
Rows that it may no harbor find,
But on the waves remain consigned
To be by strife and tempest tossed
Wherein the weal of love is lost.
So let this sin not thee entice,
But rather flee, my son, this vice,
As others have advised, don't feign
Appearances, be true and plain.
Dissimulation’s always there
To play his role and do his share;
Whenever Envy thinks to cheat
He'll be there to promote deceit,
This secret messenger of guile.
For when he does most friendly smile,
That is when he most darkly schemes.
To men he is not what he seems;
As in a mirror we may stare
And see things that were never there,
So his false face will represent
Things that were never his intent.
Thus with deceit all things are done.
Now judge your conscience, my good son,
As it concerns this kind of sin;
Confess if you have ever in
Dissimulation’s business been.
My father, as I breathe and live,
I answer in the negative.
If I have done this for love's sake
Ask now I pray, that I may make
A case for being guilty of
Dissimulation for my love.
Since it's your wish, my son, that I
Should ask, then tell, and do not lie,
If ever you did lie in wait
Covertly to dissimulate
To learn of someone else's pain;
Of how love drove him half insane
With sorrow or with ecstasy,
And then when all this you did see,
All that he whispered in your ear
You told for other ears to hear,
And made him lose that woman's love
Whom you are most enamored of,
There was no other man who knew
His hidden secret thoughts but you.
Thinking by hind'ring his romance
That you might your own cause advance,
His quest for love did go awry,
When you did say "A secret I
Can keep, so that you can rely
On me to be discrete, I swear."
Would you, my son, lay such a snare,
Speak up. My father, I declare
My answer's for the most part: "Nay."
To some degree though I must say,
That I may stand amongst those Jews
Who cunningly false colors use.
I will not, though, myself excuse
That I do with such color paint
When I with my best face do feint
To an acquaintance, till I know
All of his secret joys and woe;
For in that way his trust I gain,
Until his love I ascertain;
And if suspicions in my mind
Arise that he's to love inclined
Toward my lady, then I'll find
The nearest well and water throw
Upon the coals of love that glow,
So that in mud his cart is mired
By all his secrets I've acquired,
And thus the dust I make him bite,
When he expects to stand upright.
But this I think you ought to know,
That if some other lady's beau
In me some secrets does confide,
Such confidence I'll surely hide,
By me they'll never be revealed.
With things like this my lips are sealed;
As though a covenant's in place;
I'd rather not in such a case
Deprive another man of grace,
Nor try to catch a man in snares
By knowing how his love life fares.
Whether he'll fail or true love find,
Such things don't enter in my mind,
They all into one ear just go,
And exit out the other, so
That I will soon forget it all.
But if in some way, great or small
It with my lady has to do,
My ears are not then locked. It's true,
Without a doubt, if that occurred
Then my whole being would be stirred
To listen keenly and to ask,
Men's feelings for her to unmask.
Thus to be friendly I have feigned,
And thus in ambush have obtained
Intelligence some man reveals
Of how he for my lady feels.
I do this for two reasons: first
To find dirt when I've thus conversed,
By watching like a hawk until
Of her I hear some man speak ill.
Then I'd defend her with such strength
That when she learns of it, at length
I might expect that she would be
Forever grateful unto me.
The second reason for my use
Of stealthy pretense to produce
By feigned appearance, knowledge of
How other men might fare in love
Who passing all day long I spot,
Is that I do believe there's not
A single one who hasn't got
A crush upon my lady dear:
Thus I believe, but what I fear,
I'd try to prove; no man, I'd guess,
Could her allure escape, unless
His loveless heart was passion free,
For he could not my lady see,
Her visage, winsome look, and all,
And then not fail in love to fall.
That should my actions clarify,
It is the cause of why I spy
By feigning friendship to ensnare
And make acquaintance everywhere;
My appetite for filth to feed
With guarded caution I proceed,
Avoiding to, in any way,
An answer give of "Yea" or "Nay".
The role of being wise I'll play,
And listening to tales, I learn
All those who for my lady yearn.
And when I hear how they have fared,
I'd say my hearing was impaired,
And that no word was understood;
But that for them will not be good.
For you can bank on this, that when
I've learned how all things stand I'll then
String them along a little more,
But to the lady I adore
I'll tell the worst of what I've found,
That with success I might be crowned,
And hinder them in every way.
In spite of that I yet dare say,
There is no benefit for me,
When it is through my heart's decree,
By love compelled, that all I hear
I tell unto my lady dear:
For I indeed the power lack
From that sweet creature to hold back,
If it concerns her, any thing.
But this knows well the heav'nly king,
Who's ruled since first this world began,
I do unto no other man
A false appearance ever show,
His personal affairs to know.
Though he had many women known,
As long as it was not my own,
If he should my opinion seek
About some thing that was unique
To his adventures in romance,
Though I might with my ear perchance
His stories hear, they would not sink
Down in my heart, nor would I think
About them, but his secrets keep
And elsewhere never make a peep,
But act as though I never knew.
Now father, tell me what you'd do,
And how you think I should be pained
For having false appearance feigned.
My son, if reason be your guide,
There may no virtue be decried
Nor may there any vice be praised.
Let reason's standard thus be raised,
And place no mask upon thy face,
That your heart would not fain embrace
For in no time, if this you do
Then other men will see right through
Your false facade, your little game,
And you will soon lose your good name.
But even so to some extent
You'll often see men who are bent
On choosing, in this day and age,
In this base practice to engage.
Without accusing any one,
I speak for your own good, my son.
The things that I here tell to you
I've heard elsewhere about the Jew;
I know not whether it is true,
But it's been many days ago
When I first heard that it is so,
How we Dissimulation find
Most commonly within mankind,
Amongst those whom we call the Jews,
Who have learned well the Lombards' ruse,
For they in slyness all excel;
And thus we see that as they sell
They feign and show an outward face
Which inwardly reflects no trace.
And thereby oft we see these Jews
Will win when really they should lose;
They get ahead, though last they came,
We who were first thus lose our claim;
We find that our own land is theirs,
The profit for ourselves and heirs
Thus gone, while they who laid their snares
Find profit in what we have lost
While other men bear all the cost.
Unto this Jewish fraud, depraved,
From which no asset may be saved,
Dissimulation surely may
Be likened, for wherever they,
Decide to take up residence,
Immediately they commence
To ply their vile factitious craft
And unsuspecting gentiles shaft.
For when they gain a foothold we
Can then predict with certainty
These Jews will, with a subtle hand,
Drain all the best goods of the land;
To take the corn with chaff they'll pay,
And since deception paves their way
They find no hindrance to their schemes;
That door cannot be shut, it seems,
Through which they might desire to pass:
For secretly they scheme, alas,
To figure out just how deceit
Might best be used to lie and cheat
In some strange place where they blow in.
Thus with dissembling they begin,
Pretending animus benign,
To mask an animus malign.
Thus is this race most to be feared.
Whoever reads old books revered.
Which moral principles imbue,
Should recognize the two-faced Jew
Who feigns a friendly face untrue;
Now such a tale I'll tell to you.
|Nessus, Deianire, and Hercules|
Of Falssemblant which is believed
Ful many a worthi wiht is grieved,
And was long time er we wer bore.
To thee, my Sone, I wol therfore
A tale telle of Falssemblant,
Which falseth many a covenant,
And many a fraude of fals conseil
Ther ben hangende upon his Seil:
And that aboghten gulteles
Bothe Deianire and Hercules,
The whiche in gret desese felle
Thurgh Falssemblant, as I schal telle.
Whan Hercules withinne a throwe
Al only hath his herte throwe
Upon this faire Deianire,
It fell him on a dai desire,
Upon a Rivere as he stod,
That passe he wolde over the flod
Withoute bot, and with him lede
His love, bot he was in drede
For tendresce of that swete wiht,
For he knew noght the forde ariht.
Ther was a Geant thanne nyh,
Which Nessus hihte, and whanne he sih
This Hercules and Deianyre,
Withinne his herte he gan conspire,
As he which thurgh his tricherie
Hath Hercules in gret envie,
Which he bar in his herte loke,
And thanne he thoghte it schal be wroke.
Bot he ne dorste natheles
Ayein this worthi Hercules
Falle in debat as forto feihte;
Bot feigneth Semblant al be sleihte
Of frendschipe and of alle goode,
And comth where as thei bothe stode,
And makth hem al the chiere he can,
And seith that as here oghne man
He is al redy forto do
What thing he mai; and it fell so
That thei upon his Semblant triste,
And axen him if that he wiste
What thing hem were best to done,
So that thei mihten sauf and sone
The water passe, he and sche.
And whan Nessus the privete
Knew of here herte what it mente,
As he that was of double entente,
He made hem riht a glad visage;
And whanne he herde of the passage
Of him and hire, he thoghte guile,
And feigneth Semblant for a while
To don hem plesance and servise,
Bot he thoghte al an other wise.
This Nessus with hise wordes slyhe
Yaf such conseil tofore here yhe
Which semeth outward profitable
And was withinne deceivable.
He bad hem of the Stremes depe
That thei be war and take kepe,
So as thei knowe noght the pas;
Bot forto helpe in such a cas,
He seith himself that for here ese
He wolde, if that it mihte hem plese,
The passage of the water take,
And for this ladi undertake
To bere unto that other stronde
And sauf to sette hire up alonde,
And Hercules may thanne also
The weie knowe how he schal go:
And herto thei acorden alle.
Bot what as after schal befalle,
Wel payd was Hercules of this,
And this Geant also glad is,
And tok this ladi up alofte
And set hire on his schuldre softe,
And in the flod began to wade,
As he which no grucchinge made,
And bar hire over sauf and sound.
Bot whanne he stod on dreie ground
And Hercules was fer behinde,
He sette his trowthe al out of mynde,
Who so therof be lief or loth,
With Deianyre and forth he goth,
As he that thoghte to dissevere
The compaignie of hem for evere.
Whan Hercules therof tok hiede,
Als faste as evere he mihte him spiede
He hyeth after in a throwe;
And hapneth that he hadde a bowe,
The which in alle haste he bende,
As he that wolde an Arwe sende,
Which he tofore hadde envenimed.
He hath so wel his schote timed,
That he him thurgh the bodi smette,
And thus the false wiht he lette.
Bot lest now such a felonie:
Whan Nessus wiste he scholde die,
He tok to Deianyre his scherte,
Which with the blod was of his herte
Thurghout desteigned overal,
And tolde how sche it kepe schal
Al prively to this entente,
That if hire lord his herte wente
To love in eny other place,
The scherte, he seith, hath such a grace,
That if sche mai so mochel make
That he the scherte upon him take,
He schal alle othre lete in vein
And torne unto hire love ayein.
Who was tho glad bot Deianyre?
Hire thoghte hire herte was afyre
Til it was in hire cofre loke,
So that no word therof was spoke.
The daies gon, the yeres passe,
The hertes waxen lasse and lasse
Of hem that ben to love untrewe:
This Hercules with herte newe
His love hath set on Eolen,
And therof spieken alle men.
This Eolen, this faire maide,
Was, as men thilke time saide,
The kinges dowhter of Eurice;
And sche made Hercules so nyce
Upon hir Love and so assote,
That he him clotheth in hire cote,
And sche in his was clothed ofte;
And thus fieblesce is set alofte,
And strengthe was put under fote,
Ther can noman therof do bote.
Whan Deianyre hath herd this speche,
Ther was no sorwe forto seche:
Of other helpe wot sche non,
Bot goth unto hire cofre anon;
With wepende yhe and woful herte
Sche tok out thilke unhappi scherte,
As sche that wende wel to do,
And broghte hire werk aboute so
That Hercules this scherte on dede,
To such entente as she was bede
Of Nessus, so as I seide er.
Bot therof was sche noght the ner,
As no fortune may be weyved;
With Falssemblant sche was deceived,
That whan sche wende best have wonne,
Sche lost al that sche hath begonne.
For thilke scherte unto the bon
His body sette afyre anon,
And cleveth so, it mai noght twinne,
For the venym that was therinne.
And he thanne as a wilde man
Unto the hihe wode he ran,
And as the Clerk Ovide telleth,
The grete tres to grounde he felleth
With strengthe al of his oghne myght,
And made an huge fyr upriht,
And lepte himself therinne at ones
And brende him bothe fleissh and bones.
Which thing cam al thurgh Falssemblant,
That false Nessus the Geant
Made unto him and to his wif;
Wherof that he hath lost his lif,
And sche sori for everemo.
Forthi, my Sone, er thee be wo,
I rede, be wel war therfore;
For whan so gret a man was lore,
It oghte yive a gret conceipte
To warne alle othre of such deceipte.
Grant mercy, fader, I am war
So fer that I nomore dar
Of Falssemblant take aqueintance;
Bot rathere I wol do penance
That I have feigned chiere er this.
Now axeth forth, what so ther is
Of that belongeth to my schrifte.
Dissimulation has brought pain
To many a worthy man, a bane
That has ere we were born been one
Huge plague. Therefore to thee, my son,
I'll tell a tale to make you shun
This vice which many a contract fakes,
And many an empty promise makes;
These tricks with which he plies his trade,
On innocents have anguish laid;
Both Hercules and Deianire
Have thereby with vexations dire
Been visited, as I shall tell
When Hercules with this fair belle,
This Deianire, was in his heart
Quite smitten from the very start.
It happened one day as he stood
Upon a river's bank, he would
Attempt without a boat to go
Across, his lady love in tow.
But he was hesitant to bring
That young and delicate sweet thing,
For where to ford he wasn't clear.
There was a giant somewhere near,
Named Nessus, and when them he sees
This Deianire and Hercules.
Within his heart he hatched a plan,
Since he did envy this great man,
To act with treachery to sate
The envy in his heart. His hate
Could now expression find, he thought,
But still the courage he could not
Collect to get into a fight
With Hercules, and win with might;
Instead a friendship he would feign,
A false good faith their trust to gain.
Thus he approached where they both stood,
Pretending cheer as best he could,
And said that as their bondsman he
Would ready at their bidding be
To do whatever thing they ask,
And so they trusted his false mask,
And asked him whether he would know
How they might best proceed to go,
So that they might pass safe and sound
Across the water to dry ground.
When Nessus knew the feelings of
Their hearts, how they were so in love,
This double dealer's face became
A gracious one. It was his game,
To think of guile. And in their need
For passage, he did then proceed
A helpful manner to pretend
And in this way to seem a friend,
While inwardly deceit he schemed.
The sly words of this Nessus seemed
Such very good advice to be
Which would a profit guarantee
But really was chicanery.
He of the river's currents talked,
That they be cautious when they walked,
For to it's dangers they were blind;
But he would, for their peace of mind,
Be there for them to help them find
Their way across, if they would like;
Like some dissimulating kike,
He said he'd give this girl a ride
To bear her to the other side,
And set her safely on the shore,
Then Hercules could follow, for
The way that he should go he'd see
And to this they did all agree.
Believing these false guarantees,
Content with this was Hercules;
The giant's also satisfied,
To take these lover's for a ride,
And so he lifted this fair maid
And in the flood began to wade,
And carried her without a frown,
Till on the shore he set her down.
But when upon dry ground they are
With Hercules behind him far,
His truth for falsehood was revealed;
This foe as friend had been concealed.
He now absconds with Deianire,
To satisfy his vile desire
To have her ever for his own,
When Hercules was thereby shown
What his true colors were, he ran
After this lying, cheating man.
A bow he had which he did bend,
As he did his strong arm extend
To let a poisoned arrow fly
And cause a phony fraud to die.
He so precisely aimed his dart
That he did pierce him through the heart,
Thinking to end his treachery.
But now one final felony:
When Nessus knew that he'd expire,
He gave his shirt to Deanire,
Ere he would unto hell depart,
Covered with blood stains from his heart,
And said if she would keep it, then
She'd find it would be handy when
Her boyfriend's heart would go astray
To love another dame some day.
The shirt, he said, had such a grace,
If she persuaded him to place
The shirt upon his back to guard
His life, he'd other loves discard
And once more to her love return.
At this whose heart began to burn
But Deanire's as if on fire?
She hid her present, from this liar,
And never spoke of this attire.
The years went by when true love burned,
Then burning hearts to cinders turned
For those who from true love depart:
This Hercules with straying heart
To Eolen did turn his love,
Which by all men was spoken of.
This Eolen, a maid most fair,
Was, as all men did witness bear,
The king Eurice's daughter, who
So wantonly her passion threw
At Hercules that he became
A fool, whose heart was all aflame
For her; wrapped in her passion's web
His energy began to ebb,
His strength abating, a disease
For which there are no remedies.
When Deianire of this heard tell,
Her sorrow knew no bounds; to quell
Her anguish she did go apace
Unto her secret hiding place.
There weeping, to assuage her hurt
She took out that malignant shirt,
As one intent on doing well,
And Hercules she did compel
This unpropitious shirt to don,
As Nessus, with his parting con,
Had bade her, as I said before.
But her will mattered nothing, for
No destiny may be denied;
Deception did her fate decide,
That on the verge of living well
Her fondest hopes all went to hell.
For this shirt clear down to the bone
His body kindled, as if sewn
Unto his skin he could not peel
It off, it's venom made him feel
Like he was going mad; he fled
Into the tallest woods, as said
The poet Ovid, where he found
Great trees which he felled to the ground
With all his strength, to make a pyre
Which he then caused to catch on fire,
And leapt therein unto his doom
For it did flesh and bones consume.
Dissimulation caused this harm,
When Nessus with his specious charm
Hoodwinked this hero and his wife,
Thus causing him to lose his life,
And bringing her eternal woe.
Therefore, my son, ere woe befall,
Be warned such folly to forestall;
For when so great a man was lost
It should give pause to count the cost
Of falling in deception's lair.
Grant mercy, father, I'm aware
Sufficiently that I'll not dare
To keep; But rather I will be
Repentant of the phony mask
That in the past I've worn. Now ask
What else unto my schrift pertains."
Mi Sone, yit ther is the fifte
Which is conceived of Envie,
And cleped is Supplantarie,
Thurgh whos compassement and guile
Ful many a man hath lost his while
In love als wel as otherwise,
Hierafter as I schal devise.
The vice of Supplantacioun
With many a fals collacioun,
Which he conspireth al unknowe,
Full ofte time hath overthrowe
The worschipe of an other man.
So wel no lif awayte can
Ayein his sleyhte forto caste,
That he his pourpos ate laste
Ne hath, er that it be withset.
Bot most of alle his herte is set
In court upon these grete Offices
Of dignitees and benefices:
Thus goth he with his sleyhte aboute
To hindre and schowve an other oute
And stonden with his slyh compas
In stede there an other was;
And so to sette himselven inne,
He reccheth noght, be so he winne,
Of that an other man schal lese,
And thus fulofte chalk for chese
He changeth with ful litel cost,
Wherof an other hath the lost
And he the profit schal receive.
For his fortune is to deceive
And forto change upon the whel
His wo with othre mennes wel:
Of that an other man avaleth,
His oghne astat thus up he haleth,
And takth the bridd to his beyete,
Wher othre men the buisshes bete.
Mi Sone, and in the same wise
Ther ben lovers of such emprise,
That schapen hem to be relieved
Where it is wrong to ben achieved:
For it is other mannes riht,
Which he hath taken dai and niht
To kepe for his oghne Stor
Toward himself for everemor,
And is his propre be the lawe,
Which thing that axeth no felawe,
If love holde his covenant.
Bot thei that worchen be supplaunt,
Yit wolden thei a man supplaunte,
And take a part of thilke plaunte
Which he hath for himselve set:
And so fulofte is al unknet,
That som man weneth be riht fast.
For Supplant with his slyhe cast
Fulofte happneth forto mowe
Thing which an other man hath sowe,
And makth comun of proprete
With sleihte and with soubtilite,
As men mai se fro yer to yere.
Thus cleymeth he the bot to stiere,
Of which an other maister is.
Forthi, my Sone, if thou er this
Hast ben of such professioun,
Discovere thi confessioun:
Hast thou supplanted eny man?
For oght that I you telle can,
Min holi fader, as of the dede
I am withouten eny drede
Al gulteles; bot of my thoght
Mi conscience excuse I noght.
For were it wrong or were it riht,
Me lakketh nothing bote myht,
That I ne wolde longe er this
Of other mannes love ywiss
Be weie of Supplantacioun
Have mad apropriacioun
And holde that I nevere boghte,
Thogh it an other man forthoghte.
And al this speke I bot of on,
For whom I lete alle othre gon;
Bot hire I mai noght overpasse,
That I ne mot alwey compasse,
Me roghte noght be what queintise,
So that I mihte in eny wise
Fro suche that mi ladi serve
Hire herte make forto swerve
Withouten eny part of love.
For be the goddes alle above
I wolde it mihte so befalle,
That I al one scholde hem alle
Supplante, and welde hire at mi wille.
And that thing mai I noght fulfille,
Bot if I scholde strengthe make;
And that I dar noght undertake,
Thogh I were as was Alisaundre,
For therof mihte arise sklaundre;
And certes that schal I do nevere,
For in good feith yit hadde I levere
In my simplesce forto die,
Than worche such Supplantarie.
Of otherwise I wol noght seie
That if I founde a seker weie,
I wolde as for conclusioun
Worche after Supplantacioun,
So hihe a love forto winne.
Now, fader, if that this be Sinne,
I am al redy to redresce
The gilt of which I me confesse.
Mi goode Sone, as of Supplant
Thee thar noght drede tant ne quant,
As for nothing that I have herd,
Bot only that thou hast misferd
Thenkende, and that me liketh noght,
For godd beholt a mannes thoght.
And if thou understode in soth
In loves cause what it doth,
A man to ben a Supplantour,
Thou woldest for thin oghne honour
Be double weie take kepe:
Ferst for thin oghne astat to kepe,
To be thiself so wel bethoght
That thou supplanted were noght,
And ek for worschipe of thi name
Towardes othre do the same,
And soffren every man have his.
Bot natheles it was and is,
That in a wayt at alle assaies
Supplant of love in oure daies
The lief fulofte for the levere
Forsakth, and so it hath don evere.
Ensample I finde therupon,
At Troie how that Agamenon
Supplantede the worthi knyht
Achilles of that swete wiht,
Which named was Brexeida;
And also of Criseida,
Whom Troilus to love ches,
Supplanted hath Diomedes.
My son, of Envy there remains
Yet one more offspring who is known
As Supplantation, which is prone
To plotting grievous evil schemes,
That take away men's hopes and dreams
In love as well as otherwise,
Of which I shall thee soon apprise."
"The vice of Supplantation seeks
As surreptitiously he sneaks
Around in shadows, to impeach,
This lying parasitic leach,
The honor of another man.
So cunning is he, none can plan
To counteract his crafty games,
So that his shrewd and arrant aims
Could have their foul fruition foiled.
But most of all his soul is soiled
By his corrupt ambition vain
High ranking office to obtain.
Thus with his wiles he goes about
To block and shove another out,
And with his cunning craftiness
Another man to dispossess;
As long as he can weasel in,
He cares not that his sneaky win
Will cause another man to lose.
Thus oft he'll bargain like the Jews:
For cheese he'll offer chalk, or worse,
To empty out another's purse
That he the profit might receive.
For he was born men to deceive,
And other men's good fortune switch
For his misfortune, to enrich,
Out of another man's increase,
His own estate. Thus he will fleece
A parson, and then pray in church
While leaving others in the lurch.
My son, there are in love's domain
Some who proceed in this same vein,
Seeking some lady's love to gain
Where it is an illicit aim.
For someone else has staked a claim,
Which he has worked both day and night
To keep, and realize his right
To have and hold for evermore,
With law the final the guarantor,
Where none would question whether he
True to love's covenant would be.
But he who usurpation works,
Would plunder someone else's perks,
And of that harvest, for his own,
Take what another man has sown.
And thus oft loosened is love's knot
That some man thinks securely taut.
For Supplantation with his tricks
Oft someone else's harvest picks,
Reaping what other people plant,
Thus giving to himself a grant
Of realms to which he has no right,
And this he does out in plain sight.
He at the helm the wheel will grip,
And claim to steer another's ship.
Please be advised, if ever you
Have in this manner played the Jew,
Come clean as you confess, my son:
Have you supplanted anyone?
For what it's worth, as to the deed,
My holy father, I can plead
That I am guiltless, guaranteed;
But if you ask about my thoughts,
My conscience must confess to blots.
For be it wrong or be it right.
It's only but for dearth of might
That long before now I have not
Of other men's love surely sought
Through Supplantation's artful gate
To for myself appropriate
And own that which I never bought,
Though it make someone else distraught.
All this to only one pertains,
From others all, my heart refrains;
But may I her ignore? No, never!
On her I am focused ever,
My concern I cannot hide,
And thus in many ways I've tried,
For those men who my lady serve
To cause her heart from them to swerve
And show them nothing of her love.
For I by all the gods above
Have wished that it might be the case,
That I might all of them replace,
Supplanting them her love to gain.
And that thing I may not attain,
Unless the effort I should make;
And that I dare not undertake,
Though I of Alexander's race
Did come, for that might cause disgrace;
From doing that I would refrain,
And in my innocence remain
Until I die, ere I'd resort
To Supplantation of this sort.
Yet still in truth I'd have to say
That if I found a risk free way,
I would not hesitate to use
A Supplantationary ruse,
So wonderful a love to win.
Now father, if that be a sin,
Then I am ready to redress
The guilt of mine that I confess.
As to this one of Envy's brood
From what I've heard I must conclude
There's nothing that you need to dread,
Except some thoughts inside your head
That I'm somewhat disturbed to hear.
For God can read men's thoughts, I fear.
And if you were more fully taught
What havoc in love's cause is wrought
By Supplantation you'd give thought
To being doubly careful of
Your honor and repute in love.
First to establish your good name,
And be so honored none would aim
By Supplantation to cause ache.
And for your reputation's sake
To others let respect be shown;
Let every man have what's his own.
By observation we've long known
In modern times it is the case
That Supplantation will erase
Affection from the lover's heart
Who will from a beloved part.
There are examples I can cite.
How that Achilles, worthy knight,
By Agamemnon was replaced
Who thus became the man embraced
By sweet Brexeida; Troilus too
To whom Criseida once was true,
And to him all her love did grant,
King Diomedes did supplant.
|Geta and Amphitrion|
Of Geta and Amphitrion,
That whilom weren bothe as on
Of frendschipe and of compaignie,
I rede how that Supplantarie
In love, as it betidde tho,
Beguiled hath on of hem tuo.
For this Geta that I of meene,
To whom the lusti faire Almeene
Assured was be weie of love,
Whan he best wende have ben above
And sikerest of that he hadde,
Cupido so the cause ladde,
That whil he was out of the weie,
Amphitrion hire love aweie
Hath take, and in this forme he wroghte.
Be nyhte unto the chambre he soghte,
Wher that sche lay, and with a wyle
He contrefeteth for the whyle
The vois of Gete in such a wise,
That made hire of hire bedd arise,
Wenende that it were he,
And let him in, and whan thei be
Togedre abedde in armes faste,
This Geta cam thanne ate laste
Unto the Dore and seide, "Undo."
And sche ansuerde and bad him go,
And seide how that abedde al warm
Hir lief lay naked in hir arm;
Sche wende that it were soth.
Lo, what Supplant of love doth:
This Geta forth bejaped wente,
And yit ne wiste he what it mente;
Amphitrion him hath supplanted
With sleyhte of love and hire enchaunted:
And thus put every man out other,
The Schip of love hath lost his Rother,
So that he can no reson stiere.
And forto speke of this matiere
Touchende love and his Supplant,
A tale which is acordant
Unto thin Ere I thenke enforme.
Now herkne, for this is the forme.
Of Geta and Amphitrion
Who both were, at their friendship's dawn,
In their companionship as one,
I read how Supplantation spun
A subtle web to serve the latter,
Caused by Envy in the matter
Of the lusty love between
The former and the fair Almeene;
But although certain she was true.
This Geta, whom she loved, and who
Was most assured of what he had,
Mischievous Cupid for this lad
Had other plans. When he was gone
Her love turned to Amphitrion,
And this was how he sprang his sleight,
He came unto her room one night
Where she was lying, and with guile
He counterfeited for a while
The voice of Geta with such art
She from her bed rose with a start;
Convinced that it was he, she chose
To let him in. When in the throes
Of love's sweet agonies they're locked,
Upon the door this Geta knocked
And said, "Please, dear, undo this lock."
She answered saying, "Take a walk!"
And said how she in bed all warm
Lay, her bare lover in her arm,
For she believed that it was so.
Deceitful Supplantation! Lo,
Observe how Geta's love was trashed,
Who knew not why his hopes were dashed;
Amphitrion supplanted him
And made her to his every whim
Submit, out were all others tossed.
The ship of love, it's rudder lost,
On stable course cannot be steered.
A tale, where Supplantation reared
It's ugly head as touching love,
Is told, illustrative thereof,
Which I'll now to your ears expose.
Hear now, for this is how it goes.
|The False Bachelor|
Of thilke Cite chief of alle
Which men the noble Rome calle,
Er it was set to Cristes feith,
Ther was, as the Cronique seith,
An Emperour, the which it ladde
In pes, that he no werres hadde:
Ther was nothing desobeissant
Which was to Rome appourtenant,
Bot al was torned into reste.
To some it thoghte for the beste,
To some it thoghte nothing so,
And that was only unto tho
Whos herte stod upon knyhthode:
Bot most of alle of his manhode
The worthi Sone of themperour,
Which wolde ben a werreiour,
As he that was chivalerous
Of worldes fame and desirous,
Began his fadre to beseche
That he the werres mihte seche,
In strange Marches forto ride.
His fader seide he scholde abide,
And wolde granten him no leve:
Bot he, which wolde noght beleve,
A kniht of his to whom he triste,
So that his fader nothing wiste,
He tok and tolde him his corage,
That he pourposeth a viage.
If that fortune with him stonde,
He seide how that he wolde fonde
The grete See to passe unknowe,
And there abyde for a throwe
Upon the werres to travaile.
And to this point withoute faile
This kniht, whan he hath herd his lord,
Is swore, and stant of his acord,
As thei that bothe yonge were;
So that in prive conseil there
Thei ben assented forto wende.
And therupon to make an ende,
Tresor ynowh with hem thei token,
And whan the time is best thei loken,
That sodeinliche in a Galeie
Fro Romelond thei wente here weie
And londe upon that other side.
The world fell so that ilke tide,
Which evere hise happes hath diverse,
The grete Soldan thanne of Perse
Ayein the Caliphe of Egipte
A werre, which that him beclipte,
Hath in a Marche costeiant.
And he, which was a poursuiant
Worschipe of armes to atteigne,
This Romein, let anon ordeigne,
That he was redi everydel:
And whan he was arraied wel
Of every thing which him belongeth,
Straght unto Kaire his weie he fongeth,
Wher he the Soldan thanne fond,
And axeth that withinne his lond
He mihte him for the werre serve,
As he which wolde his thonk deserve.
The Soldan was riht glad with al,
And wel the more in special
Whan that he wiste he was Romein;
Bot what was elles in certein,
That mihte he wite be no weie.
And thus the kniht of whom I seie
Toward the Soldan is beleft,
And in the Marches now and eft,
Wher that the dedli werres were,
He wroghte such knihthode there,
That every man spak of him good.
And thilke time so it stod,
This mihti Soldan be his wif
A Dowhter hath, that in this lif
Men seiden ther was non so fair.
Sche scholde ben hir fader hair,
And was of yeres ripe ynowh:
Hire beaute many an herte drowh
To bowe unto that ilke lawe
Fro which no lif mai be withdrawe,
And that is love, whos nature
Set lif and deth in aventure
Of hem that knyhthode undertake.
This lusti peine hath overtake
The herte of this Romein so sore,
That to knihthode more and more
Prouesce avanceth his corage.
Lich to the Leoun in his rage,
Fro whom that alle bestes fle,
Such was the knyht in his degre:
Wher he was armed in the feld,
Ther dorste non abide his scheld;
Gret pris upon the werre he hadde.
Bot sche which al the chance ladde,
Fortune, schop the Marches so,
That be thassent of bothe tuo,
The Soldan and the Caliphe eke,
Bataille upon a dai thei seke,
Which was in such a wise set
That lengere scholde it noght be let.
Thei made hem stronge on every side,
And whan it drowh toward the tide
That the bataille scholde be,
The Soldan in gret privete
A goldring of his dowhter tok,
And made hire swere upon a bok
And ek upon the goddes alle,
That if fortune so befalle
In the bataille that he deie,
That sche schal thilke man obeie
And take him to hire housebonde,
Which thilke same Ring to honde
Hire scholde bringe after his deth.
This hath sche swore, and forth he geth
With al the pouer of his lond
Unto the Marche, where he fond
His enemy full embatailled.
The Soldan hath the feld assailed:
Thei that ben hardy sone assemblen,
Wherof the dredfull hertes tremblen:
That on sleth, and that other sterveth,
Bot above all his pris deserveth
This knihtly Romein; where he rod,
His dedly swerd noman abod,
Ayein the which was no defence;
Egipte fledde in his presence,
And thei of Perse upon the chace
Poursuien: bot I not what grace
Befell, an Arwe out of a bowe
Al sodeinly that ilke throwe
The Soldan smot, and ther he lay:
The chace is left for thilke day,
And he was bore into a tente.
The Soldan sih how that it wente,
And that he scholde algate die;
And to this knyht of Romanie,
As unto him whom he most triste,
His Dowhter Ring, that non it wiste,
He tok, and tolde him al the cas,
Upon hire oth what tokne it was
Of that sche scholde ben his wif.
Whan this was seid, the hertes lif
Of this Soldan departeth sone;
And therupon, as was to done,
The dede body wel and faire
Thei carie til thei come at Kaire,
Wher he was worthily begrave.
The lordes, whiche as wolden save
The Regne which was desolat,
To bringe it into good astat
A parlement thei sette anon.
Now herkne what fell therupon:
This yonge lord, this worthi kniht
Of Rome, upon the same niht
That thei amorwe trete scholde,
Unto his Bacheler he tolde
His conseil, and the Ring with al
He scheweth, thurgh which that he schal,
He seith, the kinges Dowhter wedde,
For so the Ring was leid to wedde,
He tolde, into hir fader hond,
That with what man that sche it fond
Sche scholde him take to hire lord.
And this, he seith, stant of record,
Bot noman wot who hath this Ring.
This Bacheler upon this thing
His Ere and his entente leide,
And thoghte more thanne he seide,
And feigneth with a fals visage
That he was glad, bot his corage
Was al set in an other wise.
These olde Philosophres wise
Thei writen upon thilke while,
That he mai best a man beguile
In whom the man hath most credence;
And this befell in evidence
Toward this yonge lord of Rome.
His Bacheler, which hadde tome,
Whan that his lord be nihte slepte,
This Ring, the which his maister kepte,
Out of his Pours awey he dede,
And putte an other in the stede.
Amorwe, whan the Court is set,
The yonge ladi was forth fet,
To whom the lordes don homage,
And after that of Mariage
Thei trete and axen of hir wille.
Bot sche, which thoghte to fulfille
Hire fader heste in this matiere,
Seide openly, that men mai hiere,
The charge which hire fader bad.
Tho was this Lord of Rome glad
And drowh toward his Pours anon,
Bot al for noght, it was agon:
His Bacheler it hath forthdrawe,
And axeth ther upon the lawe
That sche him holde covenant.
The tokne was so sufficant
That it ne mihte be forsake,
And natheles his lord hath take
Querelle ayein his oghne man;
Bot for nothing that evere he can
He mihte as thanne noght ben herd,
So that his cleym is unansuerd,
And he hath of his pourpos failed.
This Bacheler was tho consailed
And wedded, and of thilke Empire
He was coroned Lord and Sire,
And al the lond him hath received;
Wherof his lord, which was deceived,
A seknesse er the thridde morwe
Conceived hath of dedly sorwe:
And as he lay upon his deth,
Therwhile him lasteth speche and breth,
He sende for the worthieste
Of al the lond and ek the beste,
And tolde hem al the sothe tho,
That he was Sone and Heir also
Of themperour of grete Rome,
And how that thei togedre come,
This kniht and he; riht as it was,
He tolde hem al the pleine cas,
And for that he his conseil tolde,
That other hath al that he wolde,
And he hath failed of his mede:
As for the good he takth non hiede,
He seith, bot only of the love,
Of which he wende have ben above.
And therupon be lettre write
He doth his fader forto wite
Of al this matiere as it stod;
And thanne with an hertly mod
Unto the lordes he besoghte
To telle his ladi how he boghte
Hire love, of which an other gladeth;
And with that word his hewe fadeth,
And seide, "A dieu, my ladi swete."
The lif hath lost his kindly hete,
And he lay ded as eny ston;
Wherof was sory manyon,
Bot non of alle so as sche.
This false knyht in his degree
Arested was and put in hold:
For openly whan it was told
Of the tresoun which is befalle,
Thurghout the lond thei seiden alle,
If it be soth that men suppose,
His oghne untrowthe him schal depose.
And forto seche an evidence,
With honour and gret reverence,
Wherof they mihten knowe an ende,
To themperour anon thei sende
The lettre which his Sone wrot.
And whan that he the sothe wot,
To telle his sorwe is endeles,
Bot yit in haste natheles
Upon the tale which he herde
His Stieward into Perse ferde
With many a worthi Romein eke,
His liege tretour forto seke;
And whan thei thider come were,
This kniht him hath confessed there
How falsly that he hath him bore,
Wherof his worthi lord was lore.
Tho seiden some he scholde deie,
Bot yit thei founden such a weie
That he schal noght be ded in Perse;
And thus the skiles ben diverse.
Be cause that he was coroned,
And that the lond was abandoned
To him, althogh it were unriht,
Ther is no peine for him diht;
Bot to this point and to this ende
Thei granten wel that he schal wende
With the Romeins to Rome ayein.
And thus acorded ful and plein,
The qwike body with the dede
With leve take forth thei lede,
Wher that Supplant hath his juise.
Wherof that thou thee miht avise
Upon this enformacioun
Touchende of Supplantacioun,
That thou, my Sone, do noght so:
And forto take hiede also
What Supplant doth in other halve,
Ther is noman can finde a salve
Pleinly to helen such a Sor;
It hath and schal ben everemor,
Whan Pride is with Envie joint,
He soffreth noman in good point,
Wher that he mai his honour lette.
And therupon if I schal sette
Ensample, in holy cherche I finde
How that Supplant is noght behinde;
God wot if that it now be so:
For in Cronique of time ago
I finde a tale concordable
Of Supplant, which that is no fable,
In the manere as I schal telle,
So as whilom the thinges felle.
In that town most renowned of all
Which men call noble Rome, ere Paul
Converted it to Christ the Lord,
There was, as history does record.
An emperor, who ruled in peace,
For under him all wars did cease.
Disturbances. unrest, and cares
Were absent in all Rome's affairs,
For harmony replaced all strife.
Some felt this was the perfect life,
But others had a different view
And that was only young men who
Had hearts that were on knighthood bent.
The chief of these on war intent
The emperor's most worthy son,
Who's love for chivalry would shun
The peaceful life, and have the fame
That gallant warriors can claim,
Began his father to implore
To let him go in search of war,
Enlisting in some foreign fray.
His father said he had to stay,
And would not grant him leave to go.
But he, who would not take a "No.",
Without his father's knowledge, just
Sought out a knight whom he did trust
And shared his heart's desire to go
Upon a voyage that would show
If fortune on his side would be.
He said that he would cross the sea
Without his father's knowledge, and
Remain a while within a land
Where he might in some wars take part.
And this knight from the very start
As soon as his lord's plan he heard
Agreed, and swore upon his word.
Now they, who both were young, did make
A private pact that they would take
Together this bold journey, and
To make sure they'd succeed they planned
To take along sufficient gold,
And when the time was right, behold
They straightway on a ship embarked
That on the shores of Rome was parked
And landed on the other side.
In world events, just like the tide,
Nations have fates that fall and rise;
Now that great Persian Sultan eyes
The Caliph who in Egypt reigns,
Surrounding all of his domains
By marching in along the coast.
And he, who would of prowess boast
For how he as a fighter fared,
This Roman, straight away prepared,
So that with every sort of arm
He'd be protected well from harm
In all his things, from head to toe;
Then straight to Cairo he did go,
Where he the Sultan there did see,
And asked that in his kingdom he
Might be of service in the war,
And earn deservèd thanks therefor.
This made the Sultan very glad,
And it to his delight did add
To know that he from Rome had come.
What else was certain was that from
All wrongful conduct he was clean.
And thus this youth of knightly mien
Did from the Sultan take his leave,
And on the front lines did achieve,
In deadly battles, constantly,
So many acts of gallantry
That all men his bold deeds admired.
Interestingly it had transpired,
This Sultan by his wife had sired
A daughter, of whom all men said
No fairer maid was ever bred.
She was to be her father's heir,
And ripe enough in years to where
Her beauty many hearts did draw
To reverence for that genteel law
Which no true man may disobey,
And that is love, which has a way
Of making knights who would be true,
Exploits of life or death pursue.
The agony of love so seized
This Roman's heart that he was pleased
To prove his knighthood all the more
With daring courage; like the roar
That makes a raging lion feared,
And by all other beasts revered
As king, so this brave knight appeared,
When he was on the battlefield.
There none did dare to face his shield,
In war he had great victories
But she who shapes all destinies,
Dame Fortune, drew the battle lines;
The Sultan to engage inclines,
To which the Caliph does assent,
Thus both kings are on battle bent,
So they agreed upon a day
That would involve the least delay.
On every side their troops amassed,
And when the time drew near at last
At which hostilities would start
The Sultan, from the throng apart,
His darling daughter's golden ring
Removed, and made her swear this thing
Upon a book, and all the gods,
If fortune was with him at odds
And in the battle he should die,
Then she her love would not deny,
And would the knot of marriage tie,
With him who did unto her bring
Upon his hand this selfsame ring.
This did she swear, as he went forth,
With his land's might down from the north
Where he the enemy did find
With battlements of every kind.
This host down on the field did swoop:
Those once audacious did regroup,
Their hearts atremble all with dread.
Some lacerated, others dead
But on this Roman were bestowed
The highest honors: where he rode,
The deadly weapon which he wields
Could not be blocked by any shields.
At his approach all Egypt fled,
While all the Persian army sped
In hot pursuit: but by God's grace
Some bowman's arrow flew apace
Toward the Persians, where it through
The Sultan pierced, whence to pursue
The enemy they ceased. To mourn,
Their leader to a tent was borne.
The Sultan knew his end was near,
And faced his death, defying fear:
And showed this Roman, brave and just,
In whom he placed implicit trust,
His daughter's ring, of which none knew,
He took it, and with him went through
It's purpose as a token of
The fact that he should be her love.
This being said, the Sultan's heart
Did fail, as his life did depart.
And thereupon with tender care
The lifeless body they prepare
And carry unto Cairo where
He worthily was there interred.
The lords to action were bestirred
To save this kingdom with no king,
Thus to restore its health they bring
A parliament together. Now
What happened thereupon hear thou:
This worthy knight, young lord of war
From Rome, did on the night before
They all would on the morning meet,
Himself did with his squire secrete,
And told him all about the ring
Entrusted to him by the king,
Through which he shall the princess wed,
For this ring unto marriage led,
At least that's what her father said,
In that the man who wore it scored,
For that's whom she'd choose as her lord.
"On good advise this I accept,
A secret from all men I've kept."
This squire did lean on every word
Intent on all that he had heard;
Not letting on to all this thoughts,
Beneath a visage false he plots,
A gladness feigning, while his heart
Was set to play a different part.
Wise old philosophers once wrote
Upon this kind of thing. I quote:
"He may another man best cheat
In whom that man has faith complete."
As proof of this we have the case
Of him who took this young lord's place.
His bachelor, who saw his chance,
That night when his lord in sleep's trance
Had fallen, from his master's purse
The ring removes, and with perverse
Intent, another places there.
Next morning at the court, the fair
Young lady forth was fetched, where all
The lords paid homage in the hall,
And after that, her hand did seek,
And asked if she her will would speak.
But she who would her father's will
And wishes in this thing fulfill,
Said openly, that all might hear,
The charge her father had made clear.
Then did this lord of Rome rejoice
But then he well nigh lost his voice
As he into his purse did grope.
His bachelor, this thief of hope,
The ring had. and thus in this wise
Demanded she him recognize:
"The token cannot not be denied.
Discredited, nor set aside."
And yet this lord did issue take
Against his own man, who did make
The better case, like someone who
Might just as well have been a Jew;
And thus he lost his rightful claim,
To someone who could feel no shame.
This bachelor then got his way
And was upon the wedding day
Crowned to be lord as was his aim.
And all the land did him acclaim:
Whereon his lord, who was deceived,
From mortal misery, conceived
A sickness ere three days had passed.
And while his speech and breath did last,
As on his deathbed he did rest,
He made one dying last request
To see the best men in the land,
Then on the truth he did expand,
That he was heir to him who reigned
As king in Rome, and then explained,
That he together with his squire
Had come. And all that did transpire
He told them plainly, how because
He did confide in him, it was
That someone else had robbed him of
The prize that he deserved in love,
Which was ordained by heav'n above,
For that is all he cared about,
Her dowry he could do without.
And thereupon by letter he
Made certain that his sire would see
How all these matters stood; and then
With heartfelt voice said to those men
That he'd be pleased if they conveyed
To her how for her love he paid
Which now to someone else accrues.
At those words fade his lifelike hues;
Saying 'Adieu, my lady sweet.'
The warmth departed from his feet,
And lifeless as a stone he lay.
Whereof were many grieved that day,
But none as much as she did moan.
This false knight was, despite his throne,
Arrested and in prison thrown,
For when the word was spread around
Of how by treason he was crowned,
All men on his betrayal frowned.
If it be true, what men suppose,
His own untruth would him depose.
And so to build a solid case,
So that their judgment they might base
On just exactly how things went,
Unto the emperor they sent
The letter which his son composed.
When to him was the truth disclosed,
By ceaseless sorrow was he seized.
But though his grief could not be eased,
He hearing of his son, assigned
His steward to go forth and find,
Along with many a Roman brave,
This vile and shameful traitor slave.
But he already had confessed
As off to Persia from the west
They went; "My falsity and lies
Did cause my worthy lord's demise."
He said. "He with his life should pay."
Some said, But then they found a way
That he in Persia should not die;
Opinions were in great supply,
Considering that on the throne
He sat, and did the kingdom own;
Although unjust, it was avowed
No punishment could be allowed;
But in this matter of concern
They all agreed he should return
To Rome with all those Romans who
Had come to see he'd get his due;
The living body with the dead
They took to where Supplanters dread
To get the justice they deserve.
My son, might you instruction take
From this, that you the same mistake
Might not, for Supplantation's sake,
Be tempted foolishly to make.
And let this also be your guide
To Supplantation's other side,
That there's no balm to give relief
Nor salve that can assuage the grief
From trust and probity purloined
When Pride and Envy are conjoined.
A person never is well served,
When faith and trust are not observed.
And thereunto if I may add
A Catholic example sad
Of sinful Supplantation's con;
God knows if it now stills goes on.
For in old chronicles is found
A story that revolves around
Supplanting, which as you shall see
Is grounded in reality.
Here's how things went down formerly:
At Rome, as it hath ofte falle,
The vicair general of alle
Of hem that lieven Cristes feith
His laste day, which non withseith,
Hath schet as to the worldes ije,
Whos name if I schal specefie,
He hihte Pope Nicolas.
And thus whan that he passed was,
The Cardinals, that wolden save
The forme of lawe, in the conclave
Gon forto chese a newe Pope,
And after that thei cowthe agrope
Hath ech of hem seid his entente:
Til ate laste thei assente
Upon an holy clerk reclus,
Which full was of gostli vertus;
His pacience and his simplesse
Hath set him into hih noblesse.
Thus was he Pope canonized,
With gret honour and intronized,
And upon chance as it is falle,
His name Celestin men calle;
Which notefied was be bulle
To holi cherche and to the fulle
In alle londes magnified.
Bot every worschipe is envied,
And that was thilke time sene:
For whan this Pope of whom I meene
Was chose, and othre set beside,
A Cardinal was thilke tide
Which the papat longe hath desired
And therupon gretli conspired;
Bot whan he sih fortune is failed,
For which long time he hath travailed,
That ilke fyr which Ethna brenneth
Thurghout his wofull herte renneth,
Which is resembled to Envie,
Wherof Supplant and tricherie
Engendred is; and natheles
He feigneth love, he feigneth pes,
Outward he doth the reverence,
Bot al withinne his conscience
Thurgh fals ymaginacioun
He thoghte Supplantacioun.
And therupon a wonder wyle
He wroghte: for at thilke whyle
It fell so that of his lignage
He hadde a clergoun of yong age,
Whom he hath in his chambre affaited.
This Cardinal his time hath waited,
And with his wordes slyhe and queinte,
The whiche he cowthe wysly peinte,
He schop this clerk of which I telle
Toward the Pope forto duelle,
So that withinne his chambre anyht
He lai, and was a prive wyht
Toward the Pope on nyhtes tide.
Mai noman fle that schal betide.
This Cardinal, which thoghte guile,
Upon a day whan he hath while
This yonge clerc unto him tok,
And made him swere upon a bok,
And told him what his wille was.
And forth withal a Trompe of bras
He hath him take, and bad him this:
"Thou schalt," he seide, "whan time is
Awaite, and take riht good kepe,
Whan that the Pope is fast aslepe
And that non other man by nyh;
And thanne that thou be so slyh
Thurghout the Trompe into his Ere,
Fro hevene as thogh a vois it were,
To soune of such prolacioun
That he his meditacioun
Therof mai take and understonde,
As thogh it were of goddes sonde.
And in this wise thou schalt seie,
That he do thilke astat aweie
Of Pope, in which he stant honoured,
So schal his Soule be socoured
Of thilke worschipe ate laste
In hevene which schal evere laste."
This clerc, whan he hath herd the forme
How he the Pope scholde enforme,
Tok of the Cardinal his leve,
And goth him hom, til it was Eve,
And prively the trompe he hedde,
Til that the Pope was abedde.
And at the Midnyht, whan he knewh
The Pope slepte, thanne he blewh
Withinne his trompe thurgh the wal,
And tolde in what manere he schal
His Papacie leve, and take
His ferste astat: and thus awake
This holi Pope he made thries,
Wherof diverse fantasies
Upon his grete holinesse
Withinne his herte he gan impresse.
The Pope ful of innocence
Conceiveth in his conscience
That it is goddes wille he cesse;
Bot in what wise he may relesse
His hihe astat, that wot he noght.
And thus withinne himself bethoght,
He bar it stille in his memoire,
Til he cam to the Consistoire;
And there in presence of hem alle
He axeth, if it so befalle
That eny Pope cesse wolde,
How that the lawe it soffre scholde.
Thei seten alle stille and herde,
Was non which to the point ansuerde,
For to what pourpos that it mente
Ther was noman knew his entente,
Bot only he which schop the guile.
This Cardinal the same while
Al openly with wordes pleine
Seith, if the Pope wolde ordeigne
That ther be such a lawe wroght,
Than mihte he cesse, and elles noght.
And as he seide, don it was;
The Pope anon upon the cas
Of his Papal Autorite
Hath mad and yove the decre:
And whan that lawe was confermed
In due forme and al affermed,
This innocent, which was deceived,
His Papacie anon hath weyved,
Renounced and resigned eke.
That other was nothing to seke,
Bot undernethe such a jape
He hath so for himselve schape,
That how as evere it him beseme,
The Mitre with the Diademe
He hath thurgh Supplantacion:
And in his confirmacion
Upon the fortune of his grace
His name is cleped Boneface.
Under the viser of Envie,
Lo, thus was hid the tricherie,
Which hath beguiled manyon.
Bot such conseil ther mai be non,
With treson whan it is conspired,
That it nys lich the Sparke fyred
Up in the Rof, which for a throwe
Lith hidd, til whan the wyndes blowe
It blaseth out on every side.
This Bonefas, which can noght hyde
The tricherie of his Supplant,
Hath openly mad his avant
How he the Papacie hath wonne.
Bot thing which is with wrong begonne
Mai nevere stonde wel at ende;
Wher Pride schal the bowe bende,
He schet fulofte out of the weie:
And thus the Pope of whom I seie,
Whan that he stod on hih the whiel,
He can noght soffre himself be wel.
Envie, which is loveles,
And Pride, which is laweles,
With such tempeste made him erre,
That charite goth out of herre:
So that upon misgovernance
Ayein Lowyz the king of France
He tok querelle of his oultrage,
And seide he scholde don hommage
Unto the cherche bodily.
Bot he, that wiste nothing why
He scholde do so gret servise
After the world in such a wise,
Withstod the wrong of that demande;
For noght the Pope mai comande
The king wol noght the Pope obeie.
This Pope tho be alle weie
That he mai worche of violence
Hath sent the bulle of his sentence
With cursinge and with enterdit.
The king upon this wrongful plyt,
To kepe his regne fro servage,
Conseiled was of his Barnage
That miht with miht schal be withstonde.
Thus was the cause take on honde,
And seiden that the Papacie
Thei wolde honoure and magnefie
In al that evere is spirital;
Bot thilke Pride temporal
Of Boneface in his persone,
Ayein that ilke wrong al one
Thei wolde stonden in debat:
And thus the man and noght the stat
The Frensche schopen be her miht
To grieve. And fell ther was a kniht,
Sire Guilliam de Langharet,
Which was upon this cause set;
And therupon he tok a route
Of men of Armes and rod oute,
So longe and in a wayt he lay,
That he aspide upon a day
The Pope was at Avinoun,
And scholde ryde out of the toun
Unto Pontsorge, the which is
A Castell in Provence of his.
Upon the weie and as he rod,
This kniht, which hoved and abod
Embuisshed upon horse bak,
Al sodeinliche upon him brak
And hath him be the bridel sesed,
And seide: "O thou, which hast desesed
The Court of France be thi wrong,
Now schalt thou singe an other song:
Thin enterdit and thi sentence
Ayein thin oghne conscience
Hierafter thou schalt fiele and grope.
We pleigne noght ayein the Pope,
For thilke name is honourable,
Bot thou, which hast be deceivable
And tricherous in al thi werk,
Thou Bonefas, thou proude clerk,
Misledere of the Papacie,
Thi false bodi schal abye
And soffre that it hath deserved."
Lo, thus the Supplantour was served;
For thei him ladden into France
And setten him to his penance
Withinne a tour in harde bondes,
Wher he for hunger bothe hise hondes
Eet of and deide, god wot how:
Of whom the wrytinge is yit now
Registred, as a man mai hiere,
Which spekth and seith in this manere:
Thin entre lich the fox was slyh,
Thi regne also with pride on hih
Was lich the Leon in his rage;
Bot ate laste of thi passage
Thi deth was to the houndes like.
Such is the lettre of his Cronique
Proclamed in the Court of Rome,
Wherof the wise ensample nome.
And yit, als ferforth as I dar,
I rede alle othre men be war,
And that thei loke wel algate
That non his oghne astat translate
Of holi cherche in no degree
Be fraude ne soubtilite:
For thilke honour which Aaron tok
Schal non receive, as seith the bok,
Bot he be cleped as he was.
The universal vicar of
All those who Christ's religion love,
As often in Rome came to pass,
When he had said his final mass,
Forever shut his mortal eye;
Nicholas was the name whereby
This Pope was known, and so when he
Departed from mortality,
The cardinals, who were compelled
By rule of law, a conclave held
So that a new pope they could choose.
They weigh all candidate's reviews
Then by each one a vote is cast,
Until they all agree at last
Upon a holy recluse who
Was filled with virtue through and through.
His patience and his simple ways
Had set him up for lavish praise.
Thus to the papacy he's called
And with humility installed,
As riding on an ass he's seen.
He picks the name of Celestine;
And to the church, how he was named
Was by a papal bull proclaimed,
And published all throughout the land.
But all renown is envied, and
On this occasion that's the case.
For when this pope assumed his place,
And others in the lurch were left,
A cardinal there was, bereft
Of his desire to be the pope,
For which thing he had held great hope;
But when he saw things turn out wrong,
For which he'd labored hard and long,
That fire which burns in Etna's bowels
Throughout HIS grieving entrails growls,
A burning Envy which gives rise
To Supplantation's little lies
And treacheries, but nonetheless
He love will feign, and peace profess;
A reverence outwardly he shows
While in his soul vain seeds he sows,
Imagining factitious fates
He Supplantation contemplates.
And thereupon a perfect plot
He hatched: so that he'd not be caught
It just so happened that he had
A kinsman who, as a young lad,
He did through all his training guide.
This cardinal his time did bide.
And with the wily words he used
By which his listeners were bemused,
He made sure that this boy would be
In quarters near the pope, so he
At evening time while in his room
Would be a private person whom
The pope could trust when it was night.
Against one's fate no man may fight.
This cardinal, who contemplates
Beguilement, his false ambush baits;
He takes this young man in his care,
And causes him an oath to swear,
Then tells him what he has in mind.
A trumpet out of brass refined
He has him take, and says to him:
'You shall, for when the day grows dim
Await, and then a vigil keep
And when the pope is fast asleep,
And when no other men are near
Then play the trumpet in his ear
So skillfully that it will sound
Like choirs celestial that resound
From heaven itself, in such a key
That pondering upon it he
Might take it as though it were by
The hand of God sent, from on high.
And then speak in this manner sly,
That he shall cast aside the role
Of pope, where him all men extol,
Which shall relief bring to his soul
And free him from such worship vain,
With God forever to remain.'
On hearing how, with this dark deed,
Against the pope he should proceed,
He leaves the cardinal to go.
To his new room, where he lays low,
And tucks the trump away till when
The pope is sound asleep. And then,
At midnight. when for sure he knew
The pope was sleeping, then he blew
His trumpet. Through the wall behold,
Unto this naive pope he told
How he his papal throne should trade
For his retreat. And thus he made
His holiness awake three times,
And thus this holy pope he primes
To conjure fantasies diverse
Which he within his heart did nurse.
The pope who innocence exudes,
His conscience counseling, concludes
That God's will is that he step down;
But just exactly how his crown
Should be abandoned, he knew not.
Upon this puzzle he much thought
Did give - to be from worship weaned -
Until the cardinals convened;
When they assembled he enquired
If any pope had been retired,
And if that ever had occurred
By what law was this right conferred.
They all sat listening, but none
Responded, not a single one,
For no one his intent could guess
In asking such a thing, unless
It were he who the guile contrived.
This cardinal, when he arrived,
Did state as plain as plain can be
That if the pope would so decree,
That such allowance should be made,
Then he could from the limelight fade.
And as he said, so would it be;
As ruler of the Holy See,
The pope who had authority
Composed and issued a decree.
And when that law was ratified
And to sustain it all decide,
This innocent who was deceived
Was of his papacy relieved,
For he renounced it and resigned.
All obstacles were now behind
That other one, for neath his fraud
He had arranged to hold the rod
Of rulership, and thus he reigned
When he the diadem obtained,
Which was through Supplantation gained.
So when he fortune's favor found
And was by all confirmed, and crowned,
The name of Boniface he chose.
Neath Envy's mask was hidden those
Foul acts of fraudulent deceit,
By which he many men did cheat.
With treason there may be no truck,
For when such malice runs amok,
It's like the fiery spark that flies
Up to the roof, and hidden lies
Till, when winds begin to blow
It turns into a blaze. Just so
This Boniface, who cannot hide
His treacherous deceit inside,
Did unashamedly explain
How he the papacy did gain.
But anything that starts out bad
You may be sure will end up sad.
When Pride take's aim, the arrow's arc
Will oft be seen to miss the mark.
And thus the pope of whom I speak,
Though he rides high, to fortune's peak,
He can't leave well enough alone.
Envy, not unto loving prone,
And Pride, which does all law forswear,
With ebullition made him err,
So that good will goes out the door;
Through his misgovernance, and more,
His style irascible and rash,
He with the King of France did clash,
Commanding him to make a vow
Unto the Vatican to bow.
But Louis, who no reason knew
Why such great homage should be due
From powers secular to those
In Rome, resisted. Thus he shows
That what the pope seeks to impose
The king would choose to disobey.
The pope, determined to display
His troublous fury, sent with haste
A papal edict that was laced
With interdict and disrespect.
The king did to this wrong object;
This threat against him to deflect,
His peers advise him in this plight
That might would best be fought with might.
To justify their cause they say
That to the papacy they'll pay
Respect for all things that pertain
Unto a spiritual plane;
But things like Boneface's Pride
Which are as temporal decried,
Against that wrong and that alone,
To fiercely fight they would be prone.
Thus to the man and not the state
The French did with their power great
Bring grief. It happened that one day
Sir William, knight of Langharet,
Who to this mission they assigned,
A group of fighting men did find,
And with their weapons out they rode.
With patience they, in ambush mode,
Proceed until they see anon
The pope had come to Avignon.
And unto Pontsorge they perceive
The pontiff is prepared to leave,
Which is a castle on the route
To Provence, and as he rode out,
This knight, who on his steed did stay,
And with his men in ambush lay,
Then sprang upon him suddenly.
Seizing him by the bridle, he
Declared: "O thou, who by thy wrong
The court of France defiled, the song
You sing a different one shall be:
Thine interdict and thy decree
Against you henceforth shall be steered
And thus your conscience shall be seared.
Against the pope we don't declaim.
For honorable is that name,
But thou, a most deceitful one,
And treacherous in all you've done,
Thou Bonface, whose Pride caused hurt,
And did the papacy pervert,
You shall with punishment be served
And taste what your deeds have deserved,"
Lo, this Supplanter got his due
As him to France they led, and threw
Him in a tower in shackles fast
To do his penance, where at last
From hunger both his hands he ate
Completely off - God sealed his fate -
And of him even now we find
Recorded writings which remind
Us of what people use to say:
Thine entry did the fox bewray,
Thy reign was marked by Pride immense
Much like the lion's rage intense:
But in the end thy death compared
To how some feral hound dog fared.
Such was the proclamation read
In Rome, declaring he was dead,
From which the wise instruction take
And so I shall with boldness make
This declaration: be forewarned,
Lest you might, like this pope, be mourned,
That none within the holy church
Should seek to soar from his own perch
And falsely someone else supplant:
For we know Aaron's honor can't
Be given to another who
Has not been called to service, too.
|Envy in Love|
What I schal thenken in this cas
Of that I hiere now aday,
I not: bot he which can and may,
Be reson bothe and be nature
The help of every mannes cure,
He kepe Simon fro the folde.
For Joachim thilke Abbot tolde
How suche daies scholden falle,
That comunliche in places alle
The Chapmen of such mercerie
With fraude and with Supplantarie
So manye scholden beie and selle,
That he ne may for schame telle
So foul a Senne in mannes Ere.
Bot god forbiede that it were
In oure daies that he seith:
For if the Clerc beware his feith
In chapmanhod at such a feire,
The remenant mot nede empeire
Of al that to the world belongeth;
For whan that holi cherche wrongeth,
I not what other thing schal rihte.
And natheles at mannes sihte
Envie forto be preferred
Hath conscience so differred,
That noman loketh to the vice
Which is the Moder of malice,
And that is thilke false Envie,
Which causeth many a tricherie;
For wher he may an other se
That is mor gracious than he,
It schal noght stonden in his miht
Bot if he hindre such a wiht:
And that is welnyh overal,
This vice is now so general.
Envie thilke unhapp indrowh,
Whan Joab be deceipte slowh
Abner, for drede he scholde be
With king David such as was he.
And thurgh Envie also it fell
Of thilke false Achitofell,
For his conseil was noght achieved,
Bot that he sih Cusy believed
With Absolon and him forsake,
He heng himself upon a stake.
Senec witnesseth openly
How that Envie proprely
Is of the Court the comun wenche,
And halt taverne forto schenche
That drink which makth the herte brenne,
And doth the wit aboute renne,
Be every weie to compasse
How that he mihte alle othre passe,
As he which thurgh unkindeschipe
Envieth every felaschipe;
So that thou miht wel knowe and se,
Ther is no vice such as he,
Ferst toward godd abhominable,
And to mankinde unprofitable:
And that be wordes bot a fewe
I schal be reson prove and schewe.
Envie if that I schal descrive,
He is noght schaply forto wyve
In Erthe among the wommen hiere;
For ther is in him no matiere
Wherof he mihte do plesance.
Ferst for his hevy continance
Of that he semeth evere unglad,
He is noght able to ben had;
And ek he brenneth so withinne,
That kinde mai no profit winne,
Wherof he scholde his love plese:
For thilke blod which scholde have ese
To regne among the moiste veines,
Is drye of thilke unkendeli peines
Thurgh whiche Envie is fyred ay.
And thus be reson prove I may
That toward love Envie is noght;
And otherwise if it be soght,
Upon what side as evere it falle,
It is the werste vice of alle,
Which of himself hath most malice.
For understond that every vice
Som cause hath, wherof it groweth,
Bot of Envie noman knoweth
Fro whenne he cam bot out of helle.
For thus the wise clerkes telle,
That no spirit bot of malice
Be weie of kinde upon a vice
Is tempted, and be such a weie
Envie hath kinde put aweie
And of malice hath his steringe,
Wherof he makth his bakbitinge,
And is himself therof desesed.
So mai ther be no kinde plesed;
For ay the mor that he envieth,
The more ayein himself he plieth.
Thus stant Envie in good espeir
To ben himself the develes heir,
As he which is his nexte liche
And forthest fro the heveneriche,
For there mai he nevere wone.
Forthi, my goode diere Sone,
If thou wolt finde a siker weie
To love, put Envie aweie.
Min holy fader, reson wolde
That I this vice eschuie scholde:
Bot yit to strengthe mi corage,
If that ye wolde in avantage
Therof sette a recoverir,
It were tome a gret desir,
That I this vice mihte flee.
So what are we to do when we
Such goings on in our time see,
But pray for those with reason blessed
And who of caring are possessed,
Two things that are the key, I'm told,
To keeping Simon from the fold.
For Joachim the abbot said
How, in the days that lie ahead,
It would be commonplace to see
The merchant suing for his fee
With supplantation and disguise,
Both he who sells and he who buys,
So that for shame he may not tell
The sins of those who buy and sell.
But God forbid what he did say
Prophetic was of our own day.
For if the priest his faith invokes
To deal at such a fair with folks,
His fold might be inclined to hope
In worldly things, not in the pope:
For if the holy church transgress,
Then who is going to fix this mess?
Yet when it comes to men's esteem
Envy to be acclaimed supreme
Their conscience dulls, thence it proceeds
Till men embrace that vice which breeds
A progeny of evil deeds,
The offspring of false Envy, that
Black seed which treachery begat;
For where he may another see
Who is more well endowed than he,
He can't resist the impulse to
A well deserved repute undo.
Almost all men display this trait,
So common is this vice of late.
From Envy did much grief ensue
When Joab by deception slew
His rival Abner, out of fear
King David might prefer this peer.
And likewise with Achitofell
Who did in falsity excel,
For when with Absalom he failed
In counsel, and Hushai prevailed,
Consumed with jealous Envy he
Did hang himself upon a tree.
In Seneca this thought we find
That Envy, speaking of the mind,
Is like a common barmaid who
Within a tavern serves to you
A drink that sets the soul on fire,
And makes the human mind conspire
By every stratagem to try
To run and pass all others by.
As one who lacking in good will
Is always wishing others ill.
So that you might know well and see,
That there is no vice such as he,
Which is by God the most abhorred
And does to men no gain afford:
I shall in several words or so
By force of reason prove and show.
Envy, should I describe, you'd know,
He's one whom women on this earth
Would shun as one who had a dearth
Of substance whereby he could make
A lady in him pleasure take.
First for his countenance austere
Which makes him seem devoid of cheer,
Quite unapproachable is he;
Within he's like a molten sea,
And that kind may no profit win,
Wherewith to bring his love a grin.
For that blood which, free from this sin,
Should freely flow within moist veins,
Is dry from those perverted pains
Through which do Envy's fires e'er burn.
And thus to reason now I turn
To prove that Envy is unfit
For love, and otherwise if it
Be sought, it always is accursed,
For of all vice it is the worst.
And is with malice most imbued.
We can for every vice conclude
What is the seed from which it grows,
But as to Envy no man knows
From whence he comes but out of hell.
For do not thus wise clerics tell,
That only a malicious mind
Is to this fitting vice inclined.
For Envy nature does reverse,
The vice inclined unto the curse
Of malice, motive of the sin,
Which is to calumny akin,
And is himself thereof diseased,
For which all nature is displeased;
For ever as his envy grows,
The more himself he does oppose.
For Envy's hopes are good indeed
To be the devil's favored seed,
As he who's closest to his breed,
Ne'er to emerge from hell's abyss,
Nor ever know celestial bliss.
Therefore, if you would win her kiss
And love, my dearest son, do this:
From Envy stay thou far away.
My father, reason's voice would say
That I should from this vice refrain.
That my resolve I might maintain,
Could you as well suggest to me,
For this great sin a remedy,
For it is my desire to know
How I might this foul vice forgo.
|Charity Envy's Remedy|
Nou understond, my Sone, and se,
Ther is phisique for the seke,
And vertus for the vices eke.
Who that the vices wolde eschuie,
He mot be resoun thanne suie
The vertus; for be thilke weie
He mai the vices don aweie,
For thei togedre mai noght duelle:
For as the water of a welle
Of fyr abateth the malice,
Riht so vertu fordoth the vice.
Ayein Envie is Charite,
Which is the Moder of Pite,
That makth a mannes herte tendre,
That it mai no malice engendre
In him that is enclin therto.
For his corage is tempred so,
That thogh he mihte himself relieve,
Yit wolde he noght an other grieve,
Bot rather forto do plesance
He berth himselven the grevance,
So fain he wolde an other ese.
Wherof, mi Sone, for thin ese
Now herkne a tale which I rede,
And understond it wel, I rede.
Know this, my son,
for those who ail,
|Constantine and Sylvester|
Among the bokes of latin
I finde write of Constantin
The worthi Emperour of Rome,
Suche infortunes to him come,
Whan he was in his lusti age,
The lepre cawhte in his visage
And so forth overal aboute,
That he ne mihte ryden oute:
So lefte he bothe Schield and spere,
As he that mihte him noght bestere,
And hield him in his chambre clos.
Thurgh al the world the fame aros,
The grete clerkes ben asent
And come at his comandement
To trete upon this lordes hele.
So longe thei togedre dele,
That thei upon this medicine
Apointen hem, and determine
That in the maner as it stod
Thei wolde him bathe in childes blod
Withinne sevene wynter age:
For, as thei sein, that scholde assuage
The lepre and al the violence,
Which that thei knewe of Accidence
And noght be weie of kinde is falle.
And therto thei acorden alle
As for final conclusioun,
And tolden here opinioun
To themperour: and he anon
His conseil tok, and therupon
With lettres and with seales oute
Thei sende in every lond aboute
The yonge children forto seche,
Whos blod, thei seiden, schal be leche
For themperoures maladie.
Ther was ynowh to wepe and crie
Among the Modres, whan thei herde
Hou wofully this cause ferde,
Bot natheles thei moten bowe;
And thus wommen ther come ynowhe
With children soukende on the Tete.
Tho was ther manye teres lete,
Bot were hem lieve or were hem lothe,
The wommen and the children bothe
Into the Paleis forth be broght
With many a sory hertes thoght
Of hem whiche of here bodi bore
The children hadde, and so forlore
Withinne a while scholden se.
The Modres wepe in here degre,
And manye of hem aswoune falle,
The yonge babes criden alle:
This noyse aros, the lord it herde,
And loked out, and how it ferde
He sih, and as who seith abreide
Out of his slep, and thus he seide:
"O thou divine pourveance,
Which every man in the balance
Of kinde hast formed to be liche,
The povere is bore as is the riche
And deieth in the same wise,
Upon the fol, upon the wise
Siknesse and hele entrecomune;
Mai non eschuie that fortune
Which kinde hath in hire lawe set;
Hire strengthe and beaute ben beset
To every man aliche fre,
That sche preferreth no degre
As in the disposicioun
Of bodili complexioun:
And ek of Soule resonable
The povere child is bore als able
To vertu as the kinges Sone;
For every man his oghne wone
After the lust of his assay
The vice or vertu chese may.
Thus stonden alle men franchised,
Bot in astat thei ben divised;
To some worschipe and richesse,
To some poverte and distresse,
On lordeth and an other serveth;
Bot yit as every man deserveth
The world yifth noght his yiftes hiere.
Bot certes he hath gret matiere
To ben of good condicioun,
Which hath in his subjeccioun
The men that ben of his semblance."
And ek he tok a remembrance
How he that made lawe of kinde
Wolde every man to lawe binde,
And bad a man, such as he wolde
Toward himself, riht such he scholde
Toward an other don also.
And thus this worthi lord as tho
Sette in balance his oghne astat
And with himself stod in debat,
And thoghte hou that it was noght good
To se so mochel mannes blod
Be spilt for cause of him alone.
He sih also the grete mone,
Of that the Modres were unglade,
And of the wo the children made,
Wherof that al his herte tendreth,
And such pite withinne engendreth,
That him was levere forto chese
His oghne bodi forto lese,
Than se so gret a moerdre wroght
Upon the blod which gulteth noght.
Thus for the pite which he tok
Alle othre leches he forsok,
And put him out of aventure
Al only into goddes cure;
And seith, "Who that woll maister be,
He mot be servant to pite."
So ferforth he was overcome
With charite, that he hath nome
His conseil and hise officers,
And bad unto hise tresorers
That thei his tresour al aboute
Departe among the povere route
Of wommen and of children bothe,
Wherof thei mihte hem fede and clothe
And saufli tornen hom ayein
Withoute lost of eny grein.
Thurgh charite thus he despendeth
His good, wherof that he amendeth
The povere poeple, and contrevaileth
The harm, that he hem so travaileth:
And thus the woful nyhtes sorwe
To joie is torned on the morwe;
Al was thonkinge, al was blessinge,
Which erst was wepinge and cursinge;
Thes wommen gon hom glade ynowh,
Echon for joie on other lowh,
And preiden for this lordes hele,
Which hath relessed the querele,
And hath his oghne will forsake
In charite for goddes sake.
Bot now hierafter thou schalt hiere
What god hath wroght in this matiere,
As he which doth al equite.
To him that wroghte charite
He was ayeinward charitous,
And to pite he was pitous:
For it was nevere knowe yit
That charite goth unaquit.
The nyht, whan he was leid to slepe,
The hihe god, which wolde him kepe,
Seint Peter and seint Poul him sende,
Be whom he wolde his lepre amende.
Thei tuo to him slepende appiere
Fro god, and seide in this manere:
"O Constantin, for thou hast served
Pite, thou hast pite deserved:
Forthi thou schalt such pite have
That god thurgh pite woll thee save.
So schalt thou double hele finde,
Ferst for thi bodiliche kinde,
And for thi wofull Soule also,
Thou schalt ben hol of bothe tuo.
And for thou schalt thee noght despeire,
Thi lepre schal nomore empeire
Til thou wolt sende therupon
Unto the Mont of Celion,
Wher that Silvestre and his clergie
Togedre duelle in compaignie
For drede of thee, which many day
Hast ben a fo to Cristes lay,
And hast destruid to mochel schame
The prechours of his holy name.
Bot now thou hast somdiel appesed
Thi god, and with good dede plesed,
That thou thi pite hast bewared
Upon the blod which thou hast spared.
Forthi to thi salvacion
Thou schalt have enformacioun,
Such as Silvestre schal the teche:
The nedeth of non other leche."
This Emperour, which al this herde,
"Grant merci lordes," he ansuerde,
"I wol do so as ye me seie.
Bot of o thing I wolde preie:
What schal I telle unto Silvestre
Or of youre name or of youre estre?"
And thei him tolden what thei hihte,
And forth withal out of his sihte
Thei passen up into the hevene.
And he awok out of his swevene,
And clepeth, and men come anon:
He tolde his drem, and therupon
In such a wise as he hem telleth
The Mont wher that Silvestre duelleth
Thei have in alle haste soght,
And founde he was and with hem broght
To themperour, which to him tolde
His swevene and elles what he wolde.
And whan Silvestre hath herd the king,
He was riht joiful of this thing,
And him began with al his wit
To techen upon holi writ
Ferst how mankinde was forlore,
And how the hihe god therfore
His Sone sende from above,
Which bore was for mannes love,
And after of his oghne chois
He tok his deth upon the crois;
And how in grave he was beloke,
And how that he hath helle broke,
And tok hem out that were him lieve;
And forto make ous full believe
That he was verrai goddes Sone,
Ayein the kinde of mannes wone
Fro dethe he ros the thridde day,
And whanne he wolde, as he wel may,
He styh up to his fader evene
With fleissh and blod into the hevene;
And riht so in the same forme
In fleissh and blod he schal reforme,
Whan time comth, the qwike and dede
At thilke woful dai of drede,
Where every man schal take his dom,
Als wel the Maister as the grom.
The mihti kinges retenue
That dai may stonde of no value
With worldes strengthe to defende;
For every man mot thanne entende
To stonde upon his oghne dedes
And leve alle othre mennes nedes.
That dai mai no consail availe,
The pledour and the plee schal faile,
The sentence of that ilke day
Mai non appell sette in delay;
Ther mai no gold the Jugge plie,
That he ne schal the sothe trie
And setten every man upriht,
Als wel the plowman as the kniht:
The lewed man, the grete clerk
Schal stonde upon his oghne werk,
And such as he is founde tho,
Such schal he be for everemo.
Ther mai no peine be relessed,
Ther mai no joie ben encressed,
Bot endeles, as thei have do,
He schal receive on of the tuo.
And thus Silvestre with his sawe
The ground of al the newe lawe
With gret devocion he precheth,
Fro point to point and pleinly techeth
Unto this hethen Emperour;
And seith, the hihe creatour
Hath underfonge his charite,
Of that he wroghte such pite,
Whan he the children hadde on honde.
Thus whan this lord hath understonde
Of al this thing how that it ferde,
Unto Silvestre he thanne ansuerde,
With al his hole herte and seith
That he is redi to the feith.
And so the vessel which for blod
Was mad, Silvestre, ther it stod,
With clene water of the welle
In alle haste he let do felle,
And sette Constantin therinne
Al naked up unto the chinne.
And in the while it was begunne,
A liht, as thogh it were a Sunne,
Fro hevene into the place com
Wher that he tok his cristendom;
And evere among the holi tales
Lich as thei weren fisshes skales
Ther fellen from him now and eft,
Til that ther was nothing beleft
Of al his grete maladie.
For he that wolde him purefie,
The hihe god hath mad him clene,
So that ther lefte nothing sene;
He hath him clensed bothe tuo,
The bodi and the Soule also.
Tho knew this Emperour in dede
That Cristes feith was forto drede,
And sende anon hise lettres oute
And let do crien al aboute,
Up peine of deth that noman weyve
That he baptesme ne receive:
After his Moder qweene Heleine
He sende, and so betwen hem tweine
Thei treten, that the Cite all
Was cristned, and sche forth withall.
This Emperour, which hele hath founde,
Withinne Rome anon let founde
Tuo cherches, which he dede make
For Peter and for Poules sake,
Of whom he hadde avisioun;
And yaf therto possessioun
Of lordschipe and of worldes good.
Bot how so that his will was good
Toward the Pope and his Franchise,
Yit hath it proved other wise,
To se the worchinge of the dede:
For in Cronique this I rede;
Anon as he hath mad the yifte,
A vois was herd on hih the lifte,
Of which al Rome was adrad,
And seith: "To day is venym schad
In holi cherche of temporal,
Which medleth with the spirital."
And hou it stant of that degree
Yit mai a man the sothe se:
God mai amende it, whan he wile,
I can ther to non other skile.
Bot forto go ther I began,
How charite mai helpe a man
To bothe worldes, I have seid:
And if thou have an Ere leid,
Mi Sone, thou miht understonde,
If charite be take on honde,
Ther folweth after mochel grace.
Forthi, if that thou wolt pourchace
How that thou miht Envie flee,
Aqueinte thee with charite,
Which is the vertu sovereine.
Mi fader, I schal do my peine:
For this ensample which ye tolde
With al myn herte I have withholde,
So that I schal for everemore
Eschuie Envie wel the more:
And that I have er this misdo,
Yif me my penance er I go.
And over that to mi matiere
Of schrifte, why we sitten hiere
In privete betwen ous tweie,
Now axeth what ther is, I preie.
Mi goode Sone, and for thi lore
I woll thee telle what is more,
So that thou schalt the vices knowe:
For whan thei be to thee full knowe,
Thou miht hem wel the betre eschuie.
And for this cause I thenke suie
The forme bothe and the matiere,
As now suiende thou schalt hiere
Which vice stant next after this:
And whan thou wost how that it is,
As thou schalt hiere me devise,
Thow miht thiself the betre avise.
In Latin books accounts I find