Ferst whan the hyhe God began
This world, and that the kinde of man
Was falle into no gret encress,
For worldes good tho was no press,
Bot al was set to the comune,
Thei spieken thanne of no fortune
Or for to lese or for to winne,
Til Avarice broghte it inne;
And that was whan the world was woxe
Of man, of hors, of schep, of oxe,
And that men knewen the moneie.
Tho wente pes out of the weie,
And werre cam on every side
Which alle love leide aside
And of comun his propre made,
So that instede of schovele and spade
The scharpe swerd was take on honde.
And in this wise it cam to londe,
Wherof men maden dyches depe
And hyhe walles for to kepe
The gold which Avarice encloseth.
Bot al to lytel him supposeth,
Thogh he mihte al the world pourchace;
For what thing that he may embrace
Of gold, of catel or of lond,
He let it nevere out of his hond,
Bot get him more and halt it faste,
As thogh the world scholde evere laste.
So is he lych unto the helle:
For as these olde bokes telle,
What comth therinne, lasse or more,
It schal departe neveremore.
Thus whanne he hath his cofre loken,
It schal noght after ben unstoken,
Bot whanne him list to have a syhte
Of gold, hou that it schyneth brihte,
That he ther on mai loke and muse.
For otherwise he dar noght use
To take his part, or lasse or more.
So is he povere, and everemore
Him lacketh that he hath ynowh:
An oxe draweth in the plowh,
Of that himself hath no profit;
A schep riht in the same plit
His wolle berth, bot on a day
Another takth the flees away.
Thus hath he that he noght ne hath,
For he therof his part ne tath.
To seie hou such a man hath good,
Who so that reson understod,
It is impropreliche seid,
For good hath him and halt him teid,
That he ne gladeth noght withal,
Bot is unto his good a thral;
And as soubgit thus serveth he,
Wher that he scholde maister be.
Such is the kinde of th'averous.
"Mi sone, as thou art amerous,
Tell if thou farst of love so."
"Mi fader, as it semeth, 'no.'
That averous yit nevere I was,
So as ye setten me the cas.
For as ye tolden here above,
In full possession of love
Yit was I nevere hiertofore,
So that me thenketh wel therfore,
I mai excuse wel my dede.
Bot of mi will withoute drede,
If I that tresor mihte gete,
It scholde nevere be forgete,
That I ne wolde it faste holde,
Til god of love himselve wolde
That deth ous scholde parte atuo.
For lieveth wel, I love hire so
That evene with min oghne lif,
If I that swete lusti wif
Mihte ones welden at my wille,
Forevere I wolde hire holde stille.
And in this wise, taketh kepe,
If I hire hadde, I wolde hire kepe;
And yit no Friday wolde I faste,
Thogh I hire kepte and hielde faste.
Fy on the bagges in the kiste!
I hadde ynogh, if I hire kiste.
For certes, if sche were myn,
I hadde hir levere than a myn
Of gold. For al this worldes riche
Ne mihte make me so riche
As sche, that is so inly good.
I sette noght of other good,
For mihte I gete such a thing,
I hadde a tresor for a king;
And thogh I wolde it faste holde,
I were thanne wel beholde.
Bot I mot pipe nou with lasse,
And suffre that it overpasse,
Noght with mi will, for thus I wolde
Ben averous, if that I scholde.
Bot, fader, I you herde seie
Hou th'averous hath yit som weie,
Wherof he mai be glad; for he
Mai whanne him list his tresor se
And grope and fiele it al aboute,
Bot I fulofte am schet theroute,
Ther as my worthi tresor is.
So is mi lif lich unto this,
That ye me tolden hier tofore,
Hou that an oxe his yock hath bore
For thing that scholde him noght availe.
And in this wise I me travaile;
For who that evere hath the welfare,
I wot wel that I have the care,
For I am hadd and noght ne have,
And am, as who seith, loves knave.
Nou demeth in youre oghne thoght,
If this be avarice or noght."
"Mi sone, I have of thee no wonder,
Thogh thou to serve be put under
With love which to kinde acordeth;
Bot so as every bok recordeth,
It is to kinde no plesance
That man above his sustienance
Unto the gold schal serve and bowe,
For that mai no reson avowe.
Bot Avarice natheles,
If he mai geten his encress
Of gold, that wole he serve and kepe,
For he takth of noght elles kepe
Bot for to fille hise bagges large;
And al is to him bot a charge,
For he ne parteth noght withal
Bot kepth it, as a servant schal.
And thus, thogh that he multeplie
His gold, withoute tresorie
He is, for man is noght amended
With gold bot if it be despended
To mannes us; wherof I rede
A tale, and tak therof good hiede,
Of that befell be olde tyde,
As telleth ous the clerk Ovide.
Bachus, which is the god of wyn,
Acordant unto his divin
A prest, the which Cillenus hihte,
He hadde, and fell so that be nyhte
This prest was drunke and goth astraied,
Wherof the men were evele apaied
In Frigelond, whereas he wente.
Bot ate laste a cherl him hente
With strengthe of other felaschipe,
So that upon his drunkeschipe
Thei bounden him with chenes faste,
And forth thei ladde him als so faste
Unto the king, which hihte Myde.
Bot he, that wolde his vice hyde,
This courteis king tok of him hiede,
And bad that men him scholde lede
Into a chambre for to kepe,
Til he of leisir hadde slepe.
And tho this prest was sone unbounde,
And up a couche fro the grounde
To slepe he was leid softe ynowh.
And whanne he wok, the king him drowh
To his presence and dede him chiere,
So that this prest in such manere,
Whil that him liketh, there he duelleth.
And al this he to Bachus telleth,
Whan that he cam to him agein.
And whan that Bachus herde sein
How Mide hath don his courtesie,
Him thenkth it were a vilenie,
Bot he rewarde him for his dede,
So as he mihte of his godhiede.
Unto this king this god appiereth
And clepeth, and that other hiereth.
This god to Mide thonketh faire
Of that he was so debonaire
Toward his prest, and bad him seie
What thing it were he wolde preie,
He scholde it have of worldes good.
This king was glad, and stille stod,
And was of his axinge in doute,
And al the world he caste aboute,
What thing was best for his astat,
And with himself stod in debat
Upon thre pointz, the whiche I finde
Ben lievest unto mannes kinde.
The ferste of hem it is delit,
The tuo ben worschipe and profit.
And thanne he thoghte, 'If that I crave
Delit, thogh I delit mai have,
Delit schal passen in myn age.
That is no siker avantage,
For every joie bodily
Schal ende in wo: delit forthi
Wol I noght chese. And if worschipe
I axe and of the world lordschipe,
That is an occupacion
Of proud ymaginacion,
Which makth an herte vein withinne;
Ther is no certein for to winne,
For lord and knave al is o weie,
Whan thei be bore and whan thei deie.
And if I profit axe wolde,
I not in what manere I scholde
Of worldes good have sikernesse;
For every thief upon richesse
Awaiteth for to robbe and stele:
Such good is cause of harmes fele.
And also, thogh a man at ones
Of al the world withinne his wones
The tresor myhte have everydel,
Yit hadde he bot o mannes del
Toward himself, so as I thinke,
Of clothinge and of mete and drinke,
For more, outake vanité,
Ther hath no lord in his degré.'
And thus upon the pointz diverse
Diverseliche he gan reherce
What point him thoghte for the beste;
Bot pleinly for to gete him reste
He can no siker weie caste.
And natheles yit ate laste
He fell upon the coveitise
Of gold; and thanne in sondri wise
He thoghte, as I have seid tofore,
Hou tresor mai be sone lore,
And hadde an inly gret desir
Touchende of such recoverir,
Hou that he mihte his cause availe
To gete him gold withoute faile.
Withinne his herte and thus he preiseth
The gold, and seith hou that it peiseth
Above al other metall most.
'The gold,' he seith, 'may lede an host
To make werre agein a king;
The gold put under alle thing,
And set it whan him list above;
The gold can make of hate love
And werre of pes and ryht of wrong,
And long to schort and schort to long;
Withoute gold mai be no feste,
Gold is the lord of man and beste,
And mai hem bothe beie and selle;
So that a man mai sothly telle
That al the world to gold obeieth.'
Forthi this king to Bachus preieth
To grante him gold, bot he excedeth
Mesure more than him nedeth.
Men tellen that the maladie
Which cleped is ydropesie
Resembled is unto this vice
Be weie of kinde of Avarice.
The more ydropesie drinketh,
The more him thursteth, for him thinketh
That he mai nevere drinke his fille,
So that ther mai nothing fulfille
The lustes of his appetit.
And riht in such a maner plit
Stant Avarice and evere stod.
The more he hath of worldes good,
The more he wolde it kepe streyte,
And evere mor and mor coveite.
And riht in such condicioun
Withoute good discrecioun
This king with Avarice is smite,
That al the world it myhte wite,
For he to Bachus thanne preide,
That wherupon his hond he leide,
It scholde thurgh his touche anon
Become gold, and therupon
This god him granteth as he bad.
Tho was this king of Frige glad,
And for to put it in assai
With al the haste that he mai,
He toucheth that, he toucheth this,
And in his hond al gold it is,
The ston, the tree, the lef, the gras,
The flour, the fruit, al gold it was.
Thus toucheth he, whil he mai laste
To go, bot hunger ate laste
Him tok, so that he moste nede
Be weie of kinde his hunger fede.
The cloth was leid, the bord was set,
And al was forth tofore him fet,
His disch, his coppe, his drinke, his mete;
Bot whanne he wolde or drinke or ete,
Anon as it his mouth cam nyh,
It was al gold, and thanne he syh
Of Avarice the folie.
And he with that began to crie,
And preide Bachus to forgive
His gilt, and soffre him for to live,
And be such as he was tofore,
So that he were noght forlore.
This god, which herde of his grevance,
Tok rowthe upon his repentance,
And bad him go forth redily
Unto a flod was faste by,
Which Paceole thanne hyhte,
In which as clene as evere he myhte
He scholde him waisshen overal,
And seide him thanne that he schal
Recovere his ferste astat agein.
This king, riht as he herde sein,
Into the flod goth fro the lond,
And wisshe him bothe fot and hond
And so forth al the remenant,
As him was set in covenant.
And thanne he syh merveilles strange:
The flod his colour gan to change,
The gravel with the smale stones
To gold thei torne bothe at ones,
And he was quit of that he hadde,
And thus fortune his chance ladde.
And whan he sih his touche aweie,
He goth him hom the rihte weie
And liveth forth as he dede er,
And putte al Avarice afer,
And the richesse of gold despiseth,
And seith that mete and cloth sufficeth.
Thus hath this king experience
Hou foles don the reverence
To gold, which of his oghne kinde
Is lasse worth than is the rinde
To sustienance of mannes fode.
And thanne he made lawes goode
And al his thing sette upon skile.
He bad his poeple for to tile
Here lond, and live under the lawe,
And that thei scholde also forthdrawe
Bestaile, and seche non encress
Of gold which is the breche of pes.
For this a man mai finde write,
Tofor the time, er gold was smite
In coign, that men the florin knewe,
Ther was welnyh no man untrewe.
Tho was ther nouther schield ne spere
Ne dedly wepne for to bere;
Tho was the toun withoute wal,
Which nou is closed overal;
Tho was ther no brocage in londe,
Which nou takth every cause on honde.
So mai men knowe, hou the florin
Was moder ferst of malengin
And bringere inne of alle werre,
Wherof this world stant out of herre
Thurgh the conseil of Avarice,
Which of his oghne propre vice
Is as the helle wonderfull.
For it mai neveremor be full,
That what as evere comth therinne,
Awey ne may it nevere winne.
Bot, sone myn, do thou noght so.
Let al such Avarice go
And tak thi part of that thou hast.
I bidde noght that thou do wast,
Bot hold largesce in his mesure;
And if thou se a creature,
Which thurgh poverte is falle in nede,
Gif him som good, for this I rede
To him that wol noght given here,
What peine he schal have elleswhere.
Ther is a peine amonges alle
Benethe in helle, which men calle
The wofull peine of Tantaly,
Of which I schal thee redely
Devise hou men therinne stonde.
In helle, thou schalt understonde,
Ther is a flod of thilke office,
Which serveth al for Avarice:
What man that stonde schal therinne,
He stant up evene unto the chinne;
Above his hed also ther hongeth
A fruyt which to that peine longeth
And that fruit toucheth evere in on
His overlippe. And therupon
Swich thurst and hunger him assaileth,
That nevere his appetit ne faileth.
Bot whanne he wolde his hunger fede,
The fruit withdrawth him ate nede,
And thogh he heve his hed on hyh,
The fruit is evere aliche nyh,
So is the hunger wel the more;
And also, thogh him thurste sore
And to the water bowe a doun,
The flod in such condicioun
Avaleth, that his drinke areche
He mai noght. Lo nou, which a wreche,
That mete and drinke is him so couth,
And yit ther comth non in his mouth!
Lich to the peines of this flod
Stant Avarice in worldes good.
He hath ynowh and yit him nedeth,
For his skarsnesse it him forbiedeth,
And evere his hunger after more
Travaileth him aliche sore,
So is he peined overal.
Forthi thi goodes forth withal,
Mi sone, loke thou despende,
Wherof thou myht thiself amende
Bothe hier and ek in other place.
And also if thou wolt pourchace
To be beloved, thou most use
Largesce, for if thou refuse
To give for thi loves sake,
It is no reson that thou take
Of love that thou woldest crave.
Forthi, if thou wolt grace have,
Be gracious and do largesse,
Of Avarice and the seknesse
Eschuie above alle other thing,
And take ensample of Mide king
And of the flod of helle also,
Where is ynowh of alle wo.
And thogh ther were no matiere
Bot only that we finden hiere,
Men oghten Avarice eschuie;
For what man thilke vice suie,
He get himself bot litel reste.
For hou so that the body reste,
The herte upon the gold travaileth,
Whom many a nyhtes drede assaileth;
For thogh he ligge abedde naked,
His herte is everemore awaked,
And dremeth, as he lith to slepe,
How besi that he is to kepe
His tresor, that no thief it stele.
Thus hath he bot a woful wele.
Jealousy of Lovers
And riht so in the same wise,
If thou thiself wolt wel avise,
Ther be lovers of suche ynowe,
That wole unto no reson bowe.
If so be that thei come above,
Whan thei ben maistres of here love,
And that thei scholden be most glad,
With love thei ben most bestad,
So fain thei wolde it holden al.
Here herte, here yhe is overal,
And wenen every man be thief,
To stele awey that hem is lief;
Thus thurgh here oghne fantasie
Thei fallen into Jelousie.
Thanne hath the schip tobroke his cable,
With every wynd and is muable."
"Mi fader, for that ye nou telle,
I have herd ofte time telle
Of Jelousie, bot what it is
Yit understode I nevere er this.
Wherfore I wolde you beseche,
That ye me wolde enforme and teche
What maner thing it mihte be."
"Mi sone, that is hard to me.
Bot natheles, as I have herd,
Now herkne and thou schalt ben ansuerd.
Among the men lacke of manhode
In mariage upon wifhode
Makth that a man himself deceiveth,
Wherof it is that he conceiveth
That ilke unsely maladie,
The which is cleped Jelousie;
Of which if I the propreté
Schal telle after the nyceté,
So as it worcheth on a man,
A fievere it is cotidian,
Which every day wol come aboute,
Wher so a man be inne or oute.
At hom if that a man wol wone,
This fievere is thanne of comun wone
Most grevous in a mannes yhe,
For thanne he makth him tote and pryhe,
Wher so as evere his love go;
Sche schal noght with hir litel too
Misteppe, bot he se it al.
His yhe is walkende overal;
Wher that sche singe or that sche daunce,
He seth the leste contienance;
If sche loke on a man aside
Or with him roune at eny tyde,
Or that sche lawghe, or that sche loure,
His yhe is ther at every houre.
And whanne it draweth to the nyht,
If sche thanne is withoute lyht,
Anon is al the game schent;
For thanne he set his parlement
To speke it whan he comth to bedde,
And seith, 'If I were now to wedde,
I wolde neveremore have wif.'
And so he torneth into strif
The lust of loves dueté,
And al upon diverseté.
If sche be freissh and wel araied,
He seith hir baner is displaied
To clepe in gestes fro the weie:
And if sche be noght wel beseie,
And that hir list noght to be gladd,
He berth an hond that sche is madd
And loveth noght hire housebonde;
He seith he mai wel understonde,
That if sche wolde his compaignie,
Sche scholde thanne afore his ye
Schewe al the plesir that sche mihte.
So that be daie ne be nyhte
Sche not what thing is for the beste,
Bot liveth out of alle reste;
For what as evere him liste sein,
Sche dar noght speke a word agein,
Bot wepth and holt hire lippes clos.
Sche mai wel wryte, 'Sanz repos,'
The wif which is to such on maried.
Of alle wommen be he waried,
For with this fievere of Jalousie
His echedaies fantasie
Of sorghe is evere aliche grene,
So that ther is no love sene,
Whil that him list at hom abyde.
And whan so is he wol out ryde,
Thanne hath he redi his aspie
Abidinge in hir compaignie,
A janglere, an evel-mouthed oon,
That sche ne mai nowhider gon,
Ne speke a word, ne ones loke,
That he ne wol it wende and croke
And torne after his oghne entente,
Thogh sche nothing bot honour mente.
Whan that the lord comth hom agein,
The janglere moste somwhat sein;
So what withoute and what withinne,
This fievere is evere to beginne,
For where he comth he can noght ende,
Til deth of him have mad an ende.
For thogh so be that he ne hiere,
Ne se, ne wite in no manere
Bot al honour and wommanhiede,
Therof the Jelous takth non hiede,
Bot as a man to love unkinde,
He cast his staf, as doth the blinde,
And fint defaulte where is non;
As who so dremeth on a ston
Hou he is leid, and groneth ofte,
Whan he lith on his pilwes softe.
So is ther noght bot strif and cheste,
Whan love scholde make his feste;
It is gret thing if he hir kisse.
Thus hath sche lost the nyhtes blisse,
For at such time he gruccheth evere
And berth on hond ther is a levere,
And that sche wolde another were
In stede of him abedde there;
And with tho wordes and with mo
Of Jelousie, he torneth fro
And lith upon his other side,
And sche with that drawth hire aside,
And ther sche wepeth al the nyht.
Ha, to what peine sche is dyht,
That in hire youthe hath so beset
The bond which mai noght ben unknet!
I wot the time is ofte cursed,
That evere was the gold unpursed,
The which was leid upon the bok,
Whan that alle othre sche forsok
For love of him. Bot al to late
Sche pleigneth, for as thanne algate
Sche mot forbere and to him bowe,
Thogh he ne wole it noght allowe.
For man is lord of thilke feire,
So mai the womman bot empeire,
If sche speke oght agein his wille;
And thus sche berth hir peine stille.
Bot if this fievere a womman take,
Sche schal be wel mor harde schake;
For thogh sche bothe se and hiere,
And finde that ther is matiere,
Sche dar bot to hirselve pleine,
And thus sche suffreth double peine.
Lo thus, mi sone, as I have write,
Thou miht of Jelousie wite
His fievere and his condicion,
Which is full of suspecion.
Bot wherof that this fievere groweth,
Who so these olde bokes troweth,
Ther mai he finden hou it is:
For thei ous teche and telle this,
Hou that this fievere of Jelousie
Somdel it groweth of sotie
Of love, and somdiel of untrust.
For as a sek man lest his lust,
And whan he may no savour gete,
He hateth thanne his oughne mete,
Riht so this fieverous maladie,
Which caused is of fantasie,
Makth the Jelous in fieble plit
To lese of love his appetit
Thurgh feigned enformacion
Of his ymaginacion.
Bot finali to taken hiede,
Men mai wel make a liklihiede
Betwen him which is averous
Of gold and him that is jelous
Of love, for in on degré
Thei stonde bothe, as semeth me.
That oon wolde have his bagges stille,
And noght departen with his wille,
And dar noght for the thieves slepe,
So fain he wolde his tresor kepe;
That other mai noght wel be glad,
For he is evere more adrad
Of these lovers that gon aboute,
In aunter if thei putte him oute.
So have thei bothe litel joye
As wel of love as of monoie.
Now hast thou, sone, at my techinge
Of Jelousie a knowlechinge,
That thou myht understonde this,
For whenne he comth and what he is,
And ek to whom that he is lik.
Be war forthi thou be noght sik
Of thilke fievere as I have spoke,
For it wol in himself be wroke.
For love hateth nothing more,
As men mai finde be the lore
Of hem that whilom were wise,
Hou that thei spieke in many wise."
"Mi fader, soth is that ye sein.
Bot for to loke ther agein,
Befor this time hou it is falle,
Wherof ther mihte ensample falle
To suche men as be jelous
In what manere it is grevous,
Riht fain I wolde ensample hiere."
"Mi goode sone, at thi preiere
Of suche ensamples as I finde,
So as thei comen nou to mynde
Upon this point, of time gon
I thenke for to tellen on.
[Tale of Vulcan, Mars, and Venus]
Ovide wrot of manye thinges,
Among the whiche in his wrytinges
He tolde a tale in poesie,
Which toucheth unto Jelousie,
Upon a certein cas of love.
Among the goddes alle above
It fell at thilke time thus:
The god of fyr, which Vulcanus
Is hote, and hath a craft forthwith
Assigned, for to be the smith
Of Jupiter, and his figure
Bothe of visage and of stature
Is lothly and malgracious,
Bot yit he hath withinne his hous
As for the likynge of his lif
The faire Venus to his wif.
Bot Mars, which of batailles is
The god, an yhe hadde unto this.
As he which was chivalerous,
It fell him to ben amerous,
And thoghte it was a gret pité
To se so lusti on as sche
Be coupled with so lourde a wiht.
So that his peine day and nyht
He dede, if he hire winne myhte;
And sche, which hadde a good insihte
Toward so noble a knyhtli lord,
In love fell of his acord.
Ther lacketh noght bot time and place,
That he nys siker of hire grace:
Bot whan tuo hertes falle in on,
So wys await was nevere non,
That at som time thei ne mete;
And thus this faire lusti swete
With Mars hath ofte compaignie.
Bot thilke unkynde Jelousie,
Which everemor the herte opposeth,
Makth Vulcanus that he supposeth
That it is noght wel overal,
And to himself he seide, he schal
Aspie betre, if that he may.
And so it fell upon a day,
That he this thing so slyhli ledde,
He fond hem bothe tuo abedde
Al warm, ech on with other naked.
And he with craft al redy maked
Of stronge chenes hath hem bounde,
As he togedre hem hadde founde,
And lefte hem bothe ligge so,
And gan to clepe and crie tho
Unto the goddes al aboute;
And thei assembled in a route
Come alle at ones for to se.
Bot none amendes hadde he,
Bot was rebuked hiere and there
Of hem that loves frendes were,
And seiden that he was to blame,
For if ther fell him eny schame,
It was thurgh his misgovernance:
And thus he loste contienance,
This god, and let his cause falle;
And thei to skorne him lowhen alle,
And losen Mars out of hise bondes.
Wherof these erthli housebondes
Forevere myhte ensample take,
If such a chaunce hem overtake.
For Vulcanus his wif bewreide,
The blame upon himself he leide,
Wherof his schame was the more;
Which oghte for to ben a lore
For every man that liveth hiere,
To reulen him in this matiere.
Thogh such an happ of love asterte,
Yit scholde he noght apointe his herte
With Jelousie of that is wroght,
Bot feigne, as thogh he wiste it noght;
For if he lete it overpasse,
The sclaundre schal be wel the lasse,
And he the more in ese stonde.
For this thou myht wel understonde,
That where a man schal nedes lese,
The leste harm is for to chese.
Bot Jelousie of his untrist
Makth that full many an harm arist,
Which elles scholde noght arise;
And if a man him wolde avise
Of that befell to Vulcanus,
Him oghte of reson thenke thus,
That sithe a god therof was schamed,
Wel scholde an erthli man be blamed
To take upon him such a vice.
Forthi, my sone, in thin office
Be war that thou be noght jelous,
Which ofte time hath schent the hous."
"Mi fader, this ensample is hard,
Hou such thing to the heveneward
Among the goddes myhte falle.
For ther is bot o God of alle,
Which is the Lord of hevene and helle.
Bot if it like you to telle
Hou suche goddes come aplace,
Ye mihten mochel thonk pourchace,
For I schal be wel tawht withal."
"Mi sone, it is thus overal
With hem that stonden misbelieved,
That suche goddes ben believed:
In sondri place sondri wise
Amonges hem whiche are unwise
Ther is betaken of credence;
Wherof that I the difference
In the manere as it is write
Schal do thee pleinly for to wite."
"Er Crist was bore among ous hiere,
Of the believes that tho were
In foure formes thus it was.
Thei of Caldee as in this cas
Hadde a believe be hemselve,
Which stod upon the signes tuelve,
Forth ek with the planetes sevene,
Whiche as thei sihe upon the hevene
Of sondri constellacion
In here ymaginacion
With sondri kerf and pourtreture
Thei made of goddes the figure.
In th'elementz and ek also
Thei hadden a believe tho;
And al was that unresonable:
For th'elementz ben servicable
To man, and ofte of accidence,
As men mai se th'experience,
Thei ben corrupt be sondri weie;
So mai no mannes reson seie
That thei ben god in eny wise.
And ek, if men hem wel avise,
The sonne and mone eclipse bothe,
That be hem lieve or be hem lothe,
Thei soffre; and what thing is passible
To ben a god is impossible.
These elementz ben creatures,
So ben these hevenly figures,
Wherof mai wel be justefied
That thei mai noght be deified.
And who that takth awey th'onour
Which due is to the Creatour,
And gifth it to the creature,
He doth to gret a forsfaiture.
Bot of Caldee natheles
Upon this feith, thogh it be les,
Thei holde affermed the creance;
So that of helle the penance,
As folk which stant out of believe,
Thei schull receive, as we believe.
Of the Chaldeus, lo, in this wise
Stant the believe out of assisse.
Bot in Egipte worst of alle
The feith is fals, hou so it falle;
For thei diverse bestes there
Honoure, as thogh thei goddes were:
And natheles yit forth withal
Thre goddes most in special
Thei have, forth with a goddesse,
In whom is al here sikernesse.
Tho goddes be yit cleped thus,
Orus, Typhon, and Isirus.
Thei were brethren alle thre,
And the goddesse in hir degré
Here soster was and Ysis hyhte,
Whom Isirus forlai be nyhte
And hield hire after as his wif.
So it befell that upon strif
Typhon hath Isre his brother slain,
Which hadde a child to sone Orayn,
And he his fader deth to herte
So tok, that it mai noght asterte
That he Typhon after ne slowh,
Whan he was ripe of age ynowh.
Bot yit th'Egipciens trowe
For al this errour, which thei knowe,
That these brethren ben of myht
To sette and kepe Egipte upriht,
And overthrowe, if that hem like.
Bot Ysis, as seith the cronique,
Fro Grece into Egipte cam,
And sche thanne upon honde nam
To teche hem for to sowe and eere,
Which no man knew tofore there.
And whan th'Egipciens syhe
The fieldes fulle afore here yhe,
And that the lond began to greine,
Which whilom hadde be bareigne,
For th'erthe bar after the kinde
His due charge - this I finde -
That sche of berthe the goddesse
Is cleped, so that in destresse
The wommen there upon childinge
To hire clepe, and here offringe
Thei beren, whan that thei ben lyhte.
Lo, hou Egipte al out of syhte
Fro resoun stant in misbelieve
For lacke of lore, as I believe.
Among the Greks, out of the weie
As thei that reson putte aweie,
Ther was, as the cronique seith,
Of misbelieve another feith,
That thei here goddes and goddesses,
As who seith, token al to gesses
Of suche as weren full of vice,
To whom thei made here sacrifice.
The hihe god, so as thei seide,
To whom thei most worschipe leide,
Saturnus hihte, and king of Crete
He hadde be; bot of his sete
He was put doun, as he which stod
In frenesie, and was so wod,
That fro his wif, which Rea hihte,
Hise oghne children he to plihte,
And eet hem of his comun wone.
Bot Jupiter, which was his sone
And of full age, his fader bond
And kutte of with his oghne hond
Hise genitals, whiche als so faste
Into the depe see he caste;
Wherof the Greks afferme and seie,
Thus whan thei were caste aweie,
Cam Venus forth be weie of kinde.
And of Saturne also I finde
How afterward into an yle
This Jupiter him dede exile,
Wher that he stod in gret meschief.
Lo, which a god thei maden chief!
And sithen that such on was he,
Which stod most hihe in his degré
Among the goddes, thou miht knowe,
These othre, that ben more lowe,
Ben litel worth, as it is founde.
For Jupiter was the secounde,
Which Juno hadde unto his wif;
And yit a lechour al his lif
He was, and in avouterie
He wroghte many a tricherie;
And for he was so full of vices,
Thei cleped him god of delices,
Of whom, if thou wolt more wite,
Ovide the poete hath write.
Bot yit here sterres bothe tuo,
Saturne and Jupiter also,
Thei have, althogh thei be to blame,
Attitled to here oghne name.
Mars was another in that lawe,
The which in Dace was forthdrawe,
Of whom the clerk Vegecius
Wrot in his bok, and tolde thus,
Hou he into Ytaile cam,
And such fortune ther he nam,
That he a maiden hath oppressed,
Which in hire ordre was professed,
As sche which was the prioresse
In Vestes temple the goddesse,
So was sche wel the mor to blame.
Dame Ylia this ladi name
Men clepe, and ek sche was also
The kinges dowhter that was tho,
Which Mynitor be name hihte.
So that agein the lawes ryhte
Mars thilke time upon hire that
Remus and Romulus begat,
Which after, whan thei come in age,
Of knihthode and of vassellage
Ytaile al hol thei overcome
And foundeden the grete Rome;
In armes and of such emprise
Thei weren, that in thilke wise
Here fader Mars for the mervaile
The god was cleped of bataille.
Thei were his children bothe tuo;
Thurgh hem he tok his name so,
Ther was non other cause why.
And yit a sterre upon the sky
He hath unto his name applied,
In which that he is signified.
Another god thei hadden eke,
To whom for conseil thei beseke,
The which was brother to Venus,
Appollo men him clepe thus.
He was an hunte upon the helles,
Ther was with him no vertu elles,
Wherof that enye bokes karpe,
Bot only that he couthe harpe;
Which whanne he walked over londe,
Fulofte time he tok on honde,
To gete him with his sustienance,
For lacke of other pourveance.
And otherwhile of his falshede
He feignede him to conne arede
Of thing which after scholde falle;
Wherof among hise sleyhtes alle
He hath the lewed folk deceived,
So that the betre he was received.
Lo now, thurgh what creacion
He hath deificacion,
And cleped is the god of wit
To suche as be the foles yit.
And other god, to whom thei soghte,
Mercurie hihte, and him ne roghte
What thing he stal, ne whom he slowh.
Of sorcerie he couthe ynowh,
That whanne he wolde himself transforme,
Fulofte time he tok the forme
Of womman and his oghne lefte;
So dede he wel the more thefte.
A gret spekere in alle thinges
He was also, and of lesinges
An auctour, that men wiste non
Another such as he was on.
And yit thei maden of this thief
A god, which was unto hem lief,
And clepede him in tho believes
The god of marchantz and of thieves.
Bot yit a sterre upon the hevene
He hath of the planetes sevene.
Bot Vulcanus, of whom I spak,
He hadde a courbe upon the bak,
And therto he was hepehalt,
Of whom thou understonde schalt,
He was a schrewe in al his youthe,
And he non other vertu couthe
Of craft to helpe himselve with,
Bot only that he was a smith
With Jupiter, which in his forge
Diverse thinges made him forge;
So wot I noght for what desir
Thei clepen him the god of fyr.
King of Cizile Ypolitus
A sone hadde, and Eolus
He hihte, and of his fader grant
He hield be weie of covenant
The governance of every yle
Which was longende unto Cizile,
Of hem that fro the lond forein
Leie open to the wynd al plein.
And fro thilke iles to the londe
Fulofte cam the wynd to honde:
After the name of him forthi
The wyndes cleped Eoli
Tho were, and he the god of wynd.
Lo nou, hou this believe is blynd!
The king of Crete Jupiter,
The same which I spak of er,
Unto his brother, which Neptune
Was hote, it list him to comune
Part of his good, so that be schipe
He mad him strong of the lordschipe
Of al the see in tho parties;
Wher that he wroghte hise tyrannyes,
And the strange yles al aboute
He wan, that every man hath doute
Upon his marche for to saile;
For he anon hem wolde assaile
And robbe what thing that thei ladden,
His sauf conduit bot if thei hadden.
Wherof the comun vois aros
In every lond, that such a los
He cawhte, al nere it worth a stre,
That he was cleped of the see
The god be name, and yit he is
With hem that so believe amis.
This Neptune ek was thilke also,
Which was the ferste foundour tho
Of noble Troie, and he forthi
Was wel the more lete by.
The loresman of the schepherdes,
And ek of hem that ben netherdes,
Was of Archade and hihte Pan:
Of whom hath spoke many a man,
For in the wode of Nonarcigne,
Enclosed with the tres of Pigne,
And on the Mont of Parasie
He hadde of bestes the baillie,
And ek benethe in the valleie,
Wher thilke rivere, as men seie,
Which Ladon hihte, made his cours,
He was the chief of governours
Of hem that kepten tame bestes,
Wherof thei maken yit the festes
In the cité Stinfalides.
And forth withal yit natheles
He tawhte men the forthdrawinge
Of bestaile, and ek the makinge
Of oxen, and of hors the same,
Hou men hem scholde ryde and tame.
Of foules ek, so as we finde,
Ful many a soubtiel craft of kinde
He fond, which no man knew tofore.
Men dede him worschipe ek therfore,
That he the ferste in thilke lond
Was which the melodie fond
Of riedes, whan thei weren ripe,
With double pipes for to pipe;
Therof he gaf the ferste lore,
Til afterward men couthe more.
To every craft for mannes helpe
He hadde a redi wit to helpe
Thurgh naturel experience.
And thus the nyce reverence
Of foles, whan that he was ded,
The fot hath torned to the hed,
And clepen him god of nature,
For so thei maden his figure.
Another god, so as thei fiele,
Which Jupiter upon Samele
Begat in his avouterie,
Whom, for to hide his lecherie,
That non therof schal take kepe,
In a montaigne for to kepe,
Which Dyon hihte and was in Ynde,
He sende, in bokes as I finde:
And he be name Bachus hihte,
Which afterward, whan that he mihte,
A wastour was, and al his rente
In wyn and bordel he despente.
Bot yit, al were he wonder badde,
Among the Greks a name he hadde;
Thei cleped him the god of wyn,
And thus a glotoun was dyvyn.
Ther was yit Esculapius
A godd in thilke time as thus.
His craft stod upon surgerie;
Bot for the lust of lecherie,
That he to Daires dowhter drowh,
It fell that Jupiter him slowh:
And yit thei made him noght forthi
A god, and was no cause why.
In Rome he was long time also
A god among the Romeins tho;
For, as he seide, of his presence
Ther was destruid a pestilence,
Whan thei to th'yle of Delphos wente,
And that Appollo with hem sente
This Esculapius his sone,
Among the Romeins for to wone.
And there he duelte for a while,
Til afterward into that yle,
Fro whenne he cam, agein he torneth,
Where al his lyf that he sojorneth
Among the Greks, til that he deide.
And thei upon him thanne leide
His name, and god of medicine
He hatte after that ilke line.
Another god of Hercules
Thei made, which was natheles
A man, bot that he was so strong,
In al this world that brod and long
So myhti was no man as he.
Merveiles tuelve in his degré,
As it was couth in sondri londes,
He dede with hise oghne hondes
Agein geantz and monstres bothe,
The whiche horrible were and lothe,
Bot he with strengthe hem overcam:
Wherof so gret a pris he nam,
That thei him clepe amonges alle
The god of strengthe, and to him calle.
And yit ther is no reson inne,
For he a man was full of sinne,
Which proved was upon his ende,
For in a rage himself he brende;
And such a cruel mannes dede
Acordeth nothing with godhede.
Thei hadde of goddes yit another,
Which Pluto hihte, and was the brother
Of Jupiter, and he fro youthe
With every word which cam to mouthe,
Of eny thing whan he was wroth,
He wolde swere his commun oth,
Be Lethen and be Flegeton,
Be Cochitum and Acheron,
The whiche, after the bokes telle,
Ben the chief flodes of the helle:
Be Segne and Stige he swor also,
That ben the depe pettes tuo
Of helle the most principal.
Pluto these othes overal
Swor of his commun custummance,
Til it befell upon a chance,
That he for Jupiteres sake
Unto the goddes let do make
A sacrifice, and for that dede
On of the pettes for his mede
In helle, of which I spak of er,
Was granted him; and thus he ther
Upon the fortune of this thing
The name tok of helle king.
Lo, these goddes and wel mo
Among the Greks thei hadden tho,
And of goddesses manyon,
Whos names thou schalt hiere anon,
And in what wise thei deceiven
The foles whiche here feith receiven.
So as Saturne is soverein
Of false goddes, as thei sein,
So is Sibeles of goddesses
The moder, whom withoute gesses
The folk payene honoure and serve,
As thei the whiche hire lawe observe.
Bot for to knowen upon this
Fro when sche cam and what sche is,
Bethincia the contré hihte,
Wher sche cam ferst to mannes sihte;
And after was Saturnes wif,
Be whom thre children in hire lif
Sche bar, and thei were cleped tho
Juno, Neptunus, and Pluto,
The whiche of nyce fantasie
The poeple wolde deifie.
And for hire children were so,
Sibeles thanne was also
Mad a goddesse, and thei hire calle
The moder of the goddes alle.
So was that name bore forth,
And yit the cause is litel worth.
A vois unto Saturne tolde
Hou that his oghne sone him scholde
Out of his regne putte aweie;
And he because of thilke weie,
That him was schape such a fate,
Sibele his wif began to hate
And ek hire progenie bothe.
And thus, whil that thei were wrothe,
Be Philerem upon a dai
In his avouterie he lai,
On whom he Jupiter begat;
And thilke child was after that
Which wroghte al that was prophecied,
As it tofore is specefied:
So that whan Jupiter of Crete
Was king, a wif unto him mete
The dowhter of Sibele he tok,
And that was Juno, seith the bok.
Of his deificacion
After the false oppinion,
That have I told, so as thei meene.
And for this Juno was the queene
Of Jupiter and soster eke,
The foles unto hire sieke,
And sein that sche is the goddesse
Of regnes bothe and of richesse:
And ek sche, as thei understonde,
The water nimphes hath in honde
To leden at hire oghne heste;
And whan hir list the sky tempeste,
The reinbowe is hir messager.
Lo, which a misbelieve is hier!
That sche goddesse is of the sky
I wot non other cause why.
Another goddesse is Minerve,
To whom the Greks obeie and serve:
And sche was nyh the grete lay
Of Triton founde, wher she lay
A child forcast, bot what sche was
Ther knew no man the sothe cas.
Bot in Aufrique sche was leid
In the manere as I have seid,
And caried fro that ilke place
Into an yle fer in Trace,
The which Palene thanne hihte,
Wher a norrice hir kepte and dihte.
And after, for sche was so wys
That sche fond ferst in hire avis
The cloth makinge of wolle and lyn,
Men seiden that sche was divin,
And the goddesse of sapience
Thei clepen hire in that credence.
Of the goddesse which Pallas
Is cleped sondri speche was.
On seith hire fader was Pallant,
Which in his time was geant,
A cruel man, a bataillous.
Another seith hou in his hous
Sche was the cause why he deide.
And of this Pallas some ek seide
That sche was Martes wif; and so
Among the men that weren tho
Of misbelieve in the riote
The goddesse of batailles hote
She was, and yit sche berth the name.
Now loke, hou thei be for to blame.
Saturnus after his exil
Fro Crete cam in gret peril
Into the londes of Ytaile,
And ther he dede gret mervaile,
Wherof his name duelleth yit.
For he fond of his oghne wit
The ferste craft of plowh tilinge,
Of eringe and of corn sowinge,
And how men scholden sette vines
And of the grapes make wynes;
Al this he tawhte. And it fell so,
His wif, the which cam with him tho,
Was cleped Cereres be name,
And for sche tawhte also the same,
And was his wif that ilke throwe,
As it was to the poeple knowe,
Thei made of Ceres a goddesse,
In whom here tilthe yit thei blesse,
And sein that Tricolonius
Hire sone goth amonges ous
And makth the corn good chep or dere,
Riht as hire list fro yer to yeere;
So that this wif because of this
Goddesse of cornes cleped is.
King Jupiter, which his likinge
Whilom fulfelde in alle thinge,
So priveliche aboute he ladde
His lust, that he his wille hadde
Of Latona, and on hire that
Diane his dowhter he begat
Unknowen of his wif Juno.
And afterward sche knew it so,
That Latona for drede fledde
Into an ile, wher sche hedde
Hire wombe, which of childe aros.
Thilke yle cleped was Delos;
In which Diana was forthbroght,
And kept so that hire lacketh noght.
And after, whan sche was of age,
Sche tok non hiede of mariage,
Bot out of mannes compaignie
Sche tok hire al to venerie
In forest and in wildernesse
For ther was al hire besinesse
Be daie and ek be nyhtes tyde
With arwes brode under the side
And bowe in honde, of which sche slowh
And tok al that hir liste ynowh
Of bestes whiche ben chacable.
Wherof the cronique of this fable
Seith that the gentils most of alle
Worschipen hire and to hire calle,
And the goddesse of hihe helles,
Of grene trees, of freisshe welles,
Thei clepen hire in that believe,
Which that no reson mai achieve.
Proserpina, which dowhter was
Of Cereres, befell this cas:
Whil sche was duellinge in Cizile,
Hire moder in that ilke while
Upon hire blessinge and hire heste
Bad that sche scholde ben honeste,
And lerne for to weve and spinne,
And duelle at hom and kepe hire inne.
Bot sche caste al that lore aweie,
And as sche wente hir out to pleie,
To gadre floures in a pleine,
And that was under the monteine
Of Ethna, fell the same tyde
That Pluto cam that weie ryde,
And sodeinly, er sche was war,
He tok hire up into his char.
And as thei riden in the field,
Hire grete beauté he behield,
Which was so plesant in his ye,
That for to holde in compainie
He weddeth hire and hield hire so
To ben his wif foreveremo.
And as thou hast tofore herd telle
Hou he was cleped god of helle,
So is sche cleped the goddesse
Because of him, ne mor ne lesse.
Lo, thus, mi sone, as I thee tolde,
The Greks whilom be daies olde
Here goddes hadde in sondri wise,
And thurgh the lore of here aprise
The Romeins hielden ek the same.
And in the worschipe of here name
To every godd in special
Thei made a temple forth withal,
And ech of hem his yeeres dai
Attitled hadde; and of arai
The temples weren thanne ordeigned,
And ek the poeple was constreigned
To come and don here sacrifice;
The priestes ek in here office
Solempne maden thilke festes.
And thus the Greks lich to the bestes
The men in stede of God honoure,
Whiche mihten noght hemself socoure,
Whil that thei were alyve hiere.
And over this, as thou schalt hiere,
The Greks fulfild of fantasie
Sein ek that of the helles hihe
The goddes ben in special,
Bot of here name in general
Thei hoten alle Satiri.
Ther ben of Nimphes proprely
In the believe of hem also:
Oreades thei seiden tho
Attitled ben to the monteines;
And for the wodes in demeynes
To kepe, tho ben Driades;
Of freisshe welles Naiades;
And of the Nimphes of the see
I finde a tale in propreté,
Hou Dorus whilom king of Grece,
Which hadde of infortune a piece,
His wif forth with hire dowhtres alle,
So as the happes scholden falle,
With many a gentil womman there
Dreint in the salte see thei were:
Wherof the Greks that time seiden,
And such a name upon hem leiden,
Nereides that thei ben hote,
The Nimphes whiche that thei note
To regne upon the stremes salte.
Lo now, if this believe halte!
Bot of the Nimphes as thei telle,
In every place wher thei duelle
Thei ben al redi obeissant
As damoiselles entendant
To the goddesses, whos servise
Thei mote obeie in alle wise;
Wherof the Greks to hem beseke
With tho that ben goddesses eke,
And have in hem a gret credence.
And yit withoute experience
Salve only of illusion,
Which was to hem dampnacion,
For men also that were dede
Thei hadden goddes, as I rede,
And tho be name Manes hihten,
To whom ful gret honour thei dihten,
So as the Grekes lawe seith,
Which was agein the rihte feith.
Thus have I told a gret partie;
Bot al the hole progenie
Of goddes in that ilke time
To long it were for to rime.
Bot yit of that which thou hast herd,
Of misbelieve hou it hath ferd,
Ther is a gret diversité."
"Mi fader, riht so thenketh me.
Bot yit o thing I you beseche,
Which stant in alle mennes speche,
The godd and the goddesse of love,
Of whom ye nothing hier above
Have told, ne spoken of her fare,
That ye me wolden now declare
Hou thei ferst comen to that name."
"Mi sone, I have it left for schame,
Because I am here oghne prest;
Bot for thei stonden nyh thi brest
Upon the schrifte of thi matiere,
Thou schalt of hem the sothe hiere.
And understond nou wel the cas.
Venus Saturnes dowhter was,
Which alle danger putte aweie
Of love, and fond to lust a weie;
So that of hire in sondri place
Diverse men felle into grace,
And such a lusti lif sche ladde,
That sche diverse children hadde,
Nou on be this, nou on be that.
Of hire it was that Mars begat
A child, which cleped was Armene;
Of hire also cam Andragene,
To whom Mercurie fader was.
Anchises begat Eneas
Of hire also, and Ericon
Biten begat, and therupon,
Whan that sche sih ther was non other,
Be Jupiter hire oghne brother
Sche lay, and he begat Cupide.
And thilke sone upon a tyde,
Whan he was come unto his age,
He hadde a wonder fair visage,
And fond his moder amourous,
And he was also lecherous:
So whan thei weren bothe alone,
As he which yhen hadde none
To se reson, his moder kiste;
And sche also, that nothing wiste
Bot that which unto lust belongeth,
To ben hire love him underfongeth.
Thus was he blind, and sche unwys.
Bot natheles this cause it is,
Why Cupide is the god of love,
For he his moder dorste love.
And sche, which thoghte hire lustes fonde,
Diverse loves tok in honde,
Wel mo thanne I thee tolde hiere;
And for sche wolde hirselve skiere,
Sche made comun that desport,
And sette a lawe of such a port,
That every womman mihte take
What man hire liste, and noght forsake
To ben als comun as sche wolde.
Sche was the ferste also which tolde
That wommen scholde here bodi selle.
Semiramis, so as men telle,
Of Venus kepte thilke aprise,
And so dede in the same wise
Of Rome faire Neabole,
Which liste hire bodi to rigole;
Sche was to every man felawe,
And hild the lust of thilke lawe,
Which Venus of hirself began;
Wherof that sche the name wan,
Why men hire clepen the goddesse
Of love and ek of gentilesse,
Of worldes lust and of plesance.
Se nou the foule mescreance
Of Greks in thilke time tho,
Whan Venus tok hire name so.
Ther was no cause under the mone
Of which thei hadden tho to done,
Of wel or wo wher so it was,
That thei ne token in that cas
A god to helpe or a goddesse.
Wherof, to take mi witnesse,
The king of Bragmans Dindimus
Wrot unto Alisandre thus:
In blaminge of the Grekes feith
And of the misbelieve, he seith
How thei for every membre hadden
A sondri god, to whom thei spradden
Here armes and of help besoghten.
Minerve for the hed thei soghten,
For sche was wys, and of a man
The wit and reson which he can
Is in the celles of the brayn,
Wherof thei made hire soverain.
Mercurie, which was in his dawes
A gret spekere of false lawes,
On him the kepinge of the tunge
Thei leide, whan thei spieke or sunge.
For Bachus was a glotoun eke,
Him for the throte thei beseke,
That he it wolde waisshen ofte
With swote drinkes and with softe.
The god of schuldres and of armes
Was Hercules; for he in armes
The myhtieste was to fihte,
To him tho limes thei behihte.
The god whom that thei clepen Mart
The brest to kepe hath for his part,
Forth with the herte, in his ymage
That he adresce the corage.
And of the galle the goddesse,
For sche was full of hastifesse
Of wraththe and liht to grieve also,
Thei made and seide it was Juno.
Cupide, which the brond afyre
Bar in his hond, he was the sire
Of the stomak, which builleth evere,
Wherof the lustes ben the levere.
To the goddesse Cereres,
Which of the corn gaf hire encress
Upon the feith that tho was take,
The wombes cure was betake;
And Venus thurgh the lecherie,
For which that thei hire deifie,
Sche kept al doun the remenant
To thilke office appourtenant.
Thus was dispers in sondri wise
The misbelieve, as I devise,
With many an ymage of entaile,
Of suche as myhte hem noght availe;
For thei withoute lyves chiere
Unmyhti ben to se or hiere
Or speke or do or elles fiele;
And yit the foles to hem knele,
Which is here oghne handes werk.
Ha lord, hou this believe is derk,
And fer fro resonable wit!
And natheles thei don it yit:
That was today a ragged tre,
Tomorwe upon his majesté
Stant in the temple wel besein.
How myhte a mannes resoun sein
That such a stock mai helpe or grieve?
Bot thei that ben of such believe
And unto suche goddes calle,
It schal to hem riht so befalle,
And failen ate moste nede.
Bot if thee list to taken hiede
And of the ferste ymage wite,
Petornius therof hath write
And ek Nigargorus also;
And thei afferme and write so,
That Promotheus was tofore
And fond the ferste craft therfore,
And Cirophanes, as thei telle,
Thurgh conseil which was take in helle,
In remembrance of his lignage
Let setten up the ferste ymage.
Of Cirophanes seith the bok,
That he for sorwe, which he tok
Of that he sih his sone ded,
Of confort knew non other red,
Bot let do make in remembrance
A faire ymage of his semblance
And set it in the market place,
Which openly tofore his face
Stod every dai to don him ese.
And thei that thanne wolden plese
The fader, scholden it obeie,
Whan that thei comen thilke weie.
And of Ninus king of Assire
I rede hou that in his empire
He was next after the secounde
Of hem that ferst ymages founde.
For he riht in semblable cas
Of Belus, which his fader was
Fro Nembroth in the rihte line,
Let make of gold and stones fine
A precious ymage riche
After his fader evene liche;
And therupon a lawe he sette,
That every man of pure dette
With sacrifice and with truage
Honoure scholde thilke ymage:
So that withinne time it fell,
Of Belus cam the name of Bel,
Of Bel cam Belzebub, and so
The misbelieve wente tho.
The thridde ymage next to this
Was, whan the king of Grece Apis
Was ded, thei maden a figure
In resemblance of his stature.
Of this king Apis seith the bok
That Serapis his name tok,
In whom thurgh long continuance
Of misbelieve a gret creance
Thei hadden, and the reverence
Of sacrifice and of encence
To him thei made: and as thei telle,
Among the wondres that befelle,
Whan Alisandre fro Candace
Cam ridende, in a wilde place
Undur an hull a cave he fond;
And Candalus, which in that lond
Was bore, and was Candaces sone,
Him tolde hou that of commun wone
The goddes were in thilke cave.
And he, that wolde assaie and have
A knowlechinge if it be soth,
Liht of his hors and in he goth,
And fond therinne that he soghte.
For thurgh the fendes sleihte him thoghte,
Amonges othre goddes mo
That Serapis spak to him tho,
Whom he sih there in gret arrai.
And thus the fend fro dai to dai
The worschipe of ydolatrie
Drowh forth upon the fantasie
Of hem that weren thanne blinde
And couthen noght the trouthe finde.
Thus hast thou herd in what degré
Of Grece, Egipte, and of Caldee
The misbelieves whilom stode;
And hou so that thei be noght goode
Ne trewe, yit thei sprungen oute,
Wherof the wyde world aboute
His part of misbelieve tok.
Til so befell, as seith the bok,
That god a poeple for himselve
Hath chose of the lignages tuelve,
Wherof the sothe redely,
As it is write in Genesi,
I thenke telle in such a wise
That it schal be to thin apprise.
After the flod, fro which Noé
Was sauf, the world in his degré
Was mad, as who seith, newe agein,
Of flour, of fruit, of gras, of grein,
Of beste, of bridd and of mankinde,
Which evere hath be to God unkinde.
For noght withstondende al the fare,
Of that this world was mad so bare
And afterward it was restored,
Among the men was nothing mored
Towardes God of good lyvynge,
Bot al was torned to likinge
After the fleissh, so that forgete
Was He which gaf hem lif and mete,
Of hevene and erthe creatour.
And thus cam forth the grete errour,
That thei the hihe God ne knewe,
Bot maden othre goddes newe,
As thou hast herd me seid tofore.
Ther was no man that time bore,
That he ne hadde after his chois
A god, to whom he gaf his vois.
Wherof the misbelieve cam
Into the time of Habraham.
Bot he fond out the rihte weie,
Hou only that men scholde obeie
The hihe God, which weldeth al,
And evere hath don and evere schal,
In hevene, in erthe and ek in helle.
Ther is no tunge His miht mai telle.
This patriarch to his lignage
Forbad, that thei to non ymage
Encline scholde in none wise,
Bot here offrende and sacrifise
With al the hole hertes love
Unto the mihti God above
Thei scholden give and to no mo.
And thus in thilke time tho
Began the secte upon this erthe,
Which of believes was the ferthe.
Of rihtwisnesse it was conceived,
So moste it nedes be received
Of Him that alle riht is inne,
The hihe God, which wolde winne
A poeple unto His oghne feith.
On Habraham the ground He leith,
And made him for to multeplie
Into so gret a progenie,
That thei Egipte al overspradde.
Bot Pharao with wrong hem ladde
In servitute agein the pes,
Til God let sende Moises
To make the deliverance;
And for his poeple gret vengance
He tok, which is to hiere a wonder.
The king was slain, the lond put under,
God bad the Rede See divide,
Which stod upriht on either side
And gaf unto his poeple a weie,
That thei on fote it passe dreie
And gon so forth into desert.
Wher for to kepe hem in covert,
The daies, whan the sonne brente,
A large cloude hem overwente,
And for to wissen hem be nyhte,
A firy piler hem alyhte.
And whan that thei for hunger pleigne,
The myhti God began to reyne
Manna fro hevene doun to grounde,
Wherof that ech of hem hath founde
His fode, such riht as him liste;
And for thei scholde upon Him triste,
Riht as who sette a tonne abroche,
He percede the harde roche,
And sprong out water al at wille,
That man and beste hath drunke his fille.
And afterward He gaf the Lawe
To Moises, that hem withdrawe
Thei scholden noght fro that he bad.
And in this wise thei be lad,
Til thei tok in possession
The londes of promission,
Wher that Caleph and Josué
The marches upon such degré
Departen, after the lignage
That ech of hem as heritage
His porpartie hath underfonge.
And thus stod this believe longe,
Which of prophetes was governed;
And thei hadde ek the poeple lerned
Of gret honour that scholde hem falle;
Bot ate moste nede of alle
Thei faileden, whan Crist was bore.
Bot hou that thei here feith have bore,
It nedeth noght to tellen al,
The matiere is so general:
Whan Lucifer was best in hevene
And oghte moste have stonde in evene,
Towardes God he tok debat,
And for that he was obstinat,
And wolde noght to trouthe encline,
He fell forevere into ruine:
And Adam ek in Paradis,
Whan he stod most in al his pris
After th'astat of Innocence,
Agein the God brak his defence
And fell out of his place aweie:
And riht be such a maner weie
The Jwes in here beste plit,
Whan that thei scholden most parfit
Have stond upon the prophecie,
Tho fellen thei to most folie,
And Him which was fro hevene come,
And of a maide his fleissh hath nome,
And was among hem bore and fedd,
As men that wolden noght be spedd
Of Goddes Sone, with o vois
Thei hinge and slowhe upon the crois.
Wherof the parfit of here Lawe
Fro thanne forth hem was withdrawe,
So that thei stonde of no merit,
Bot in truage as folk soubgit
Withoute propreté of place
Thei liven out of Goddes grace,
Dispers in alle londes oute.
And thus the feith is come aboute,
That whilom in the Jewes stod,
Which is noght parfihtliche good.
To speke as it is nou befalle,
Ther is a feith aboven alle,
In which the trouthe is comprehended,
Wherof that we ben alle amended.
The hihe almyhti majesté,
Of rihtwisnesse and of pité,
The sinne which that Adam wroghte,
Whan He sih time, agein He boghte,
And sende His Sone fro the hevene
To sette mannes Soule in evene,
Which thanne was so sore falle
Upon the point which was befalle,
That he ne mihte himself arise.
Gregoire seith in his aprise,
It helpeth noght a man be bore,
If Goddes Sone were unbore;
For thanne thurgh the ferste sinne,
Which Adam whilom broghte ous inne,
Ther scholden alle men be lost;
Bot Crist restoreth thilke lost,
And boghte it with His fleissh and blod.
And if we thenken hou it stod
Of thilke rancoun which He payde,
As seint Gregoire it wrot and sayde,
Al was behovely to the man.
For that wherof his wo began
Was after cause of al his welthe,
Whan He which is the welle of helthe,
The hihe creatour of lif,
Upon the nede of such a strif
So wolde for His creature
Take on Himself the forsfaiture
And soffre for the mannes sake.
Thus mai no reson wel forsake
That thilke senne original
Ne was the cause in special
Of mannes worschipe ate laste,
Which schal withouten ende laste.
For be that cause the Godhede
Assembled was to the manhede
In the Virgine, where He nom
Oure fleissh and verai man becom
Of bodely fraternité;
Wherof the man in his degré
Stant more worth, as I have told,
Than he stod erst be manyfold,
Thurgh baptesme of the Newe Lawe,
Of which Crist Lord is and felawe.
And thus the hihe Goddes myht,
Which was in the Virgine alyht,
The mannes soule hath reconsiled,
Which hadde longe ben exiled.
So stant the feith upon believe,
Withoute which mai non achieve
To gete him paradis agein.
Bot this believe is so certein,
So full of grace and of vertu,
That what man clepeth to Jhesu
In clene lif forthwith good dede,
He mai noght faile of hevene mede,
Which taken hath the rihte feith;
For elles, as the Gospel seith,
Salvacion ther mai be non.
And for to preche therupon
Crist bad to Hise apostles alle,
The whos pouer as nou is falle
On ous that ben of Holi Cherche,
If we the goode dedes werche;
For feith only sufficeth noght,
Bot if good dede also be wroght.
Now were it good that thou forthi,
Which thurgh baptesme proprely
Art unto Cristes feith professed,
Bewar that thou be noght oppressed
With Anticristes Lollardie.
For as the Jwes prophecie
Was set of God for avantage,
Riht so this newe tapinage
Of Lollardie goth aboute
To sette Cristes feith in doute.
The seintz that weren ous tofore,
Be whom the feith was ferst upbore,
That Holi Cherche stod relieved,
Thei oghten betre be believed
Than these, whiche that men knowe
Noght holy, thogh thei feigne and blowe
Here Lollardie in mennes ere.
Bot if thou wolt live out of fere,
Such newe lore, I rede, eschuie,
And hold forth riht the weie and suie,
As thine ancestres dede er this,
So schalt thou noght believe amis.
Crist wroghte ferst and after tawhte,
So that the dede His Word arawhte;
He gaf ensample in His persone,
And we the wordes have al one,
Lich to the tree with leves grene,
Upon the which no fruit is sene.
The priest Thoas, which of Minerve
The temple hadde for to serve,
And the Palladion of Troie
Kepte under keie, for monoie
Of Antenor which he hath nome,
Hath soffred Anthenor to come
And the Palladion to stele,
Wherof the worschipe and the wele
Of the Troiens was overthrowe.
Bot Thoas at the same throwe,
Whan Anthenor this juel tok,
Wynkende caste awei his lok
For a deceipte and for a wyle:
As he that scholde himself beguile,
He hidde his yhen fro the sihte,
And wende wel that he so mihte
Excuse his false conscience.
I wot noght if thilke evidence
Nou at this time in here estatz
Excuse mihte the prelatz,
Knowende hou that the feith discresceth
And alle moral vertu cesseth,
Wherof that thei the keies bere,
Bot yit hem liketh noght to stere
Here gostliche yhe for to se
The world in his adversité;
Thei wol no labour undertake
To kepe that hem is betake.
Crist deide Himselve for the feith,
Bot nou our feerfull prelat seith,
'The lif is suete,' and that he kepeth,
So that the feith unholpe slepeth,
And thei unto here ese entenden
And in here lust her lif despenden,
And every man do what him list.
Thus stant this world fulfild of mist,
That no man seth the rihte weie.
The wardes of the cherche keie
Thurgh mishandlinge ben myswreynt,
The worldes wawe hath welnyh dreynt
The schip which Peter hath to stiere,
The forme is kept, bot the matiere
Transformed is in other wise.
Bot if thei weren gostli wise,
And that the prelatz weren goode,
As thei be olde daies stode,
It were thanne litel nede
Among the men to taken hiede
Of that thei hieren Pseudo telle,
Which nou is come for to duelle,
To sowe cokkel with the corn,
So that the tilthe is nyh forlorn,
Which Crist sew ferst his oghne hond.
Nou stant the cockel in the lond,
Wher stod whilom the goode grein,
For the prelatz nou, as men sein,
Forslowthen that thei scholden tile.
And that I trowe be the skile,
Whan ther is lacke in hem above,
The poeple is stranged to the love
Of trouthe, in cause of ignorance.
For wher ther is no pourveance
Of liht, men erren in the derke.
Bot if the prelatz wolden werke
Upon the feith which thei ous teche,
Men scholden noght here weie seche
Withoute liht, as now is used:
Men se the charge aldai refused,
Which Holi Cherche hath undertake.
Bot who that wolde ensample take,
Gregoire upon his Omelie
Agein the Slouthe of Prelacie
Compleigneth him, and thus he seith:
'Whan Peter, fader of the feith,
At domesdai schal with him bringe
Judeam, which thurgh his prechinge
He wan, and Andrew with Achaie
Schal come his dette for to paie,
And Thomas ek with his beyete
Of Ynde, and Poul the routes grete
Of sondri londes schal presente,
And we fulfild of lond and rente,
Which of this world we holden hiere,
With voide handes schul appiere,
Touchende oure cure spirital,
Which is our charge in special,
I not what thing it mai amonte
Upon thilke ende of oure accompte,
Wher Crist himself is auditour,
Which takth non hiede of vein honour.'
Th'office of the chancellerie
Or of the kinges tresorie
Ne for the writ ne for the taille
To warant mai noght thanne availe;
The world, which nou so wel we trowe,
Schal make ous thanne bot a mowe:
So passe we withoute mede,
That we non otherwise spede,
Bot as we rede that he spedde,
The which his lordes besant hedde
And therupon gat non encress.
Bot at this time natheles,
What other man his thonk deserve,
The world so lusti is to serve,
That we with him ben all acorded,
And that is wist and wel recorded
Thurghout this erthe in alle londes
Let knyhtes winne with here hondes,
For oure tunge schal be stille
And stonde upon the fleisshes wille.
It were a travail for to preche
The feith of Crist, as for to teche
The folk paiene, it wol noght be;
Bot every prelat holde his see
With al such ese as he mai gete
Of lusti drinke and lusti mete,
Wherof the bodi fat and full
Is unto gostli labour dull
And slowh to handle thilke plowh.
Bot elles we ben swifte ynowh
Toward the worldes Avarice.
And that is as a sacrifice,
Which, after that th'apostel seith,
Is openly agein the feith
Unto th'idoles gove and granted.
Bot natheles it is nou haunted,
And vertu changed into vice,
So that largesce is Avarice,
In whos chapitre now we trete."
"Mi fader, this matiere is bete
So fer, that evere whil I live
I schal the betre hiede give
Unto miself be many weie.
Bot over this nou wolde I preie
To wite what the branches are
Of Avarice, and hou thei fare
Als wel in love as otherwise."
"Mi sone, and I thee schal devise
In such a manere as thei stonde,
So that thou schalt hem understonde."
"Dame Avarice is noght soleine,
Which is of gold the capiteine,
Bot of hir court in sondri wise
After the scole of hire aprise
Sche hath of servantz manyon,
Wherof that Covoitise is on;
Which goth the large world aboute,
To seche th'avantages oute,
Wher that he mai the profit winne
To Avarice, and bringth it inne.
That on hald and that other draweth,
Ther is no day which hem bedaweth,
No mor the sonne than the mone,
Whan ther is eny thing to done,
And namely with Covoitise;
For he stant out of al assisse
Of resonable mannes fare.
Wher he pourposeth him to fare
Upon his lucre and his beyete,
The smale path, the large strete,
The furlong and the longe mile,
Al is bot on for thilke while.
And for that he is such on holde,
Dame Avarice him hath withholde,
As he which is the principal
Outward, for he is overal
A pourveour and an aspie.
For riht as of an hungri pie
The storve bestes ben awaited,
Riht so is Covoitise afaited
To loke where he mai pourchace,
For be his wille he wolde embrace
Al that this wyde world beclippeth;
Bot evere he somwhat overhippeth,
That he ne mai noght al fulfille
The lustes of his gredi wille.
Bot where it falleth in a lond,
That Covoitise in myhti hond
Is set, it is ful hard to fiede;
For thanne he takth non other hiede,
Bot that he mai pourchace and gete.
His conscience hath al forgete,
And not what thing it mai amonte
That he schal afterward acompte.
Bote as the luce in his degré
Of tho that lasse ben than he
The fisshes griedeli devoureth,
So that no water hem socoureth,
Riht so no lawe mai rescowe
Fro him that wol no riht allowe;
For wher that such on is of myht,
His will schal stonde in stede of riht.
Thus be the men destruid fulofte,
Til that the grete God alofte
Agein so gret a covoitise
Redresce it in His oghne wise:
And in ensample of alle tho
I finde a tale write so,
The which, for it is good to liere,
Hierafterward thou schalt it hiere.
[Tale of Virgil's Mirror]
Whan Rome stod in noble plit,
Virgile, which was tho parfit,
A mirour made of his clergie
And sette it in the tounes ˙e
Of marbre on a piler withoute;
That thei be thritty mile aboute
Be daie and ek also be nyhte
In that mirour beholde myhte
Here enemys, if eny were,
With al here ordinance there,
Which thei agein the cité caste,
So that, whil thilke mirour laste,
Ther was no lond which mihte achieve
With werre Rome for to grieve;
Wherof was gret envie tho.
And fell that ilke time so,
That Rome hadde werres stronge
Agein Cartage, and stoden longe
The tuo cites upon debat.
Cartage sih the stronge astat
Of Rome in thilke mirour stonde,
And thoghte al prively to fonde
To overthrowe it be som wyle.
And Hanybal was thilke while
The prince and ledere of Cartage,
Which hadde set al his corage
Upon knihthod in such a wise,
That he be worthi and be wise
And be non othre was conseiled,
Wherof the world is yit merveiled
Of the maistries that he wroghte
Upon the marches whiche he soghte.
And fell in thilke time also,
The king of Puile, which was tho
Thoghte agein Rome to rebelle,
And thus was take the querele
Hou to destruie this mirour.
Of Rome tho was emperour
Crassus, which was so coveitous,
That he was evere desirous
Of gold to gete the pilage;
Wherof that Puile and ek Cartage
With philosophres wise and grete
Begunne of this matiere trete,
And ate laste in this degré
Ther weren philosophres thre,
To do this thing whiche undertoke,
And therupon thei with hem toke
A gret tresor of gold in cophres,
To Rome and thus these philisophres
Togedre in compainie wente,
Bot no man wiste what thei mente.
Whan thei to Rome come were,
So prively thei duelte there,
As thei that thoghten to deceive.
Was non that mihte of hem perceive,
Til thei in sondri stedes have
Here gold under the ground begrave
In tuo tresors, that to beholde
Thei scholden seme as thei were olde.
And so forth thanne upon a day
Al openly in good arai
To th'emperour thei hem presente,
And tolden it was here entente
To duellen under his servise.
And he hem axeth in what wise;
And thei him tolde in such a plit,
That eche of hem hadde a spirit,
The which slepende a nyht appiereth
And hem be sondri dremes lereth
After the world that hath betid.
Under the ground if oght be hid
Of old tresor at eny throwe,
Thei schull it in here swevenes knowe;
And upon this condicioun,
Thei sein, what gold under the toun
Of Rome is hid, thei wole it finde,
Ther scholde noght be left behinde,
Be so that he the halvendel
Hem grante, and he assenteth wel;
And thus cam Sleighte for to duelle
With Covoitise, as I thee telle.
This emperour bad redily
That thei be logged faste by
Where he his oghne body lay;
And whan it was amorwe day,
That on of hem seith that he mette
Wher he a goldhord scholde fette.
Wherof this emperour was glad,
And therupon anon he bad
His mynours for to go and myne,
And he himself of that covine
Goth forth withal, and at his hond
The tresor redi there he fond,
Where as thei seide it scholde be;
And who was thanne glad bot he?
Upon that other dai secounde
Thei have another goldhord founde,
Which the seconde maister tok
Upon his swevene and undertok.
And thus the sothe experience
To th'emperour gaf such credence,
That al his trist and al his feith
So sikerliche on hem he leith,
Of that he fond him so relieved,
That thei ben parfitli believed,
As thogh thei were goddes thre.
Nou herkne the soutileté.
The thridde maister scholde mete,
Which, as thei seiden, was unmete
Above hem alle, and couthe most;
And he withoute noise or bost
Al priveli, so as he wolde,
Upon the morwe his swevene tolde
To th'emperour riht in his ere,
And seide him that he wiste where
A tresor was so plentivous
Of gold and ek so precious
Of jeueals and of riche stones,
That unto alle hise hors at ones
It were a charge sufficant.
This lord upon this covenant
Was glad, and axeth where it was.
The maister seide, under the glas,
And tolde him eke, as for the myn,
He wolde ordeigne such engin
That thei the werk schull undersette
With tymber, that withoute lette
Men mai the tresor saufli delve,
So that the mirour be himselve
Withoute empeirement schal stonde.
And this the maister upon honde
Hath undertake in alle weie.
This lord, which hadde his wit aweie
And was with Covoitise blent,
Anon therto gaf his assent;
And thus thei myne forth withal,
The timber set up overal,
Wherof the piler stod upriht;
Til it befell upon a nyht
These clerkes, whan thei were war
Hou that the timber only bar
The piler wher the mirour stod
(Here sleihte no man understod),
Thei go be nyhte unto the myne
With pich, with soulphre, and with rosine,
And whan the cité was aslepe,
A wylde fyr into the depe
Thei caste among the timberwerk,
And so forth, whil the nyht was derk,
Desguised in a povere arai
Thei passeden the toun er dai.
And whan thei come upon an hell,
Thei sihen how the mirour fell,
Wherof thei maden joie ynowh,
And ech of hem with other lowh,
And seiden, 'Lo, what coveitise
Mai do with hem that be noght wise!'
And that was proved afterward,
For every lond, to Romeward
Which hadde be soubgit tofore,
Whan this mirour was so forlore
And thei the wonder herde seie,
Anon begunne desobeie
With werres upon every side;
And thus hath Rome lost his pride
And was defouled overal.
For this I finde of Hanybal,
That he of Romeins in a dai,
Whan he hem fond out of arai,
So gret a multitude slowh,
That of gold ringes, whiche he drowh
Of gentil handes that ben dede,
Buisshelles fulle thre, I rede,
He felde, and made a bregge also,
That he mihte over Tibre go
Upon the corps that dede were
Of the Romeins, whiche he slowh there.
Bot now to speke of the juise,
The which after the covoitise
Was take upon this emperour,
For he destruide the mirour;
It is a wonder for to hiere.
The Romeins maden a chaiere
And sette here emperour therinne,
And seiden, for he wolde winne
Of gold the superfluité,
Of gold he scholde such plenté
Receive til he seide 'Ho!'
And with gold, which thei hadden tho
Buillende hot withinne a panne,
Into his mouth thei poure thanne.
And thus the thurst of gold was queynt,
With gold which hadde ben atteignt.
Wherof, mi sone, thou miht hiere,
Whan Covoitise hath lost the stiere
Of resonable governance,
Ther falleth ofte gret vengance.
For ther mai be no worse thing
Than Covoitise aboute a king.
If it in his persone be,
It doth the more adversité;
And if it in his conseil stonde,
It bringth alday meschief to honde
Of commun harm; and if it growe
Withinne his court, it wol be knowe,
For thanne schal the king be piled.
The man which hath hise londes tiled,
Awaiteth noght more redily
The hervest, than thei gredily
Ne maken thanne warde and wacche,
Wher thei the profit mihten cacche:
And yit fulofte it falleth so,
As men mai sen among hem tho,
That he which most coveiteth faste
Hath lest avantage ate laste.
For whan fortune is theragein,
Thogh he coveite, it is in vein;
The happes be noght alle liche:
On is mad povere, another riche,
The court to some doth profit,
And some ben evere in o plit;
And yit thei bothe aliche sore
Coveite, bot fortune is more
Unto that o part favorable.
And thogh it be noght resonable,
This thing a man mai sen alday,
Wherof that I thee telle may
A fair ensample in remembrance,
Hou every man mot take his chance
Or of richesse or of poverte.
Hou so it stonde of the decerte,
Hier is noght everything aquit,
For ofte a man mai se this yit,
That who best doth, lest thonk schal have;
It helpeth noght the world to crave,
Which out of reule and of mesure
Hath evere stonde in aventure
Als wel in court as elles where:
And hou in olde daies there
It stod, so as the thinges felle,
I thenke a tale for to telle.
[Tale of the Two Coffers]
In a cronique this I rede.
Aboute a king, as moste nede,
Ther was of knyhtes and squiers
Gret route, and ek of officers:
Some of long time him hadden served,
And thoghten that thei have deserved
Avancement, and gon withoute;
And some also ben of the route
That comen bot a while agon,
And thei avanced were anon.
These olde men upon this thing,
So as thei dorste, agein the king
Among hemself compleignen ofte:
Bot ther is nothing seid so softe,
That it ne comth out ate laste;
The king it wiste, and als so faste,
As he which was of hih prudence,
He schop therfore an evidence
Of hem that pleignen in that cas,
To knowe in whos defalte it was.
And al withinne his oghne entente,
That no man wiste what it mente,
Anon he let tuo cofres make
Of o semblance and of o make,
So lich that no lif thilke throwe
That on mai fro that other knowe:
Thei were into his chambre broght,
Bot no man wot why thei be wroght,
And natheles the king hath bede
That thei be set in privé stede.
As he that was of wisdom slih,
Whan he therto his time sih,
Al prively, that non it wiste,
Hise oghne hondes that o kiste
Of fin gold and of fin perrie,
The which out of his tresorie
Was take, anon he felde full;
That other cofre of straw and mull
With stones meind he felde also.
Thus be thei fulle bothe tuo,
So that erliche upon a day
He bad withinne, ther he lay,
Ther scholde be tofore his bed
A bord upset and faire spred;
And thanne he let the cofres fette,
Upon the bord and dede hem sette.
He knew the names wel of tho,
The whiche agein him grucche so,
Bothe of his chambre and of his halle,
Anon and sende for hem alle,
And seide to hem in this wise:
'Ther schal no man his happ despise;
I wot wel ye have longe served,
And God wot what ye have deserved.
Bot if it is along on me
Of that ye unavanced be,
Or elles it belong on you,
The sothe schal be proved nou,
To stoppe with youre evele word.
Lo hier tuo cofres on the bord:
Ches which you list of bothe tuo;
And witeth wel that on of tho
Is with tresor so full begon,
That if ye happe therupon,
Ye schull be riche men forevere.
Now ches and tak which you is levere:
Bot be wel war, er that ye take;
For of that on I undertake
Ther is no maner good therinne,
Wherof ye mihten profit winne.
Now goth togedre of on assent
And taketh youre avisement,
For bot I you this dai avance,
It stant upon youre oghne chance
Al only in defalte of grace.
So schal be schewed in this place
Upon you alle wel afyn,
That no defalte schal be myn.'
Thei knelen alle and with o vois
The king thei thonken of this chois:
And after that thei up arise,
And gon aside and hem avise,
And ate laste thei acorde;
Wherof her tale to recorde,
To what issue thei be falle,
A kniht schal speke for hem alle.
He kneleth doun unto the king,
And seith that thei upon this thing,
Or for to winne or for to lese,
Ben alle avised for to chese.
Tho tok this kniht a yerde on honde,
And goth there as the cofres stonde,
And with assent of everichon
He leith his yerde upon that on,
And seith the king hou thilke same
Thei chese in reguerdoun be name,
And preith him that thei mote it have.
The king, which wolde his honour save,
Whan he hath herd the commun vois,
Hath granted hem here oghne chois
And tok hem therupon the keie.
Bot for he wolde it were seie
What good thei have, as thei suppose,
He bad anon the cofre unclose,
Which was fulfild with straw and stones.
Thus be thei served al at ones.
This king thanne in the same stede
Anon that other cofre undede,
Where as thei sihen gret richesse,
Wel more than thei couthen gesse.
'Lo,' seith the king, 'nou mai ye se
That ther is no defalte in me;
Forthi miself I wole aquyte,
And bereth ye youre oghne wyte
Of that fortune hath you refused.'
Thus was this wise king excused,
And thei lefte of here evele speche
And mercy of here king beseche.
[Tale of the Beggars and the Two Pastries]
Somdiel to this matiere lik
I finde a tale, hou Frederik,
Of Rome that time emperour,
Herde, as he wente, a gret clamour
Of tuo beggers upon the weie.
That on of hem began to seie,
'Ha lord, wel mai the man be riche
Whom that a king list for to riche.'
That other saide nothing so,
Bot, 'He is riche and wel bego,
To whom that God wole sende wele.'
And thus thei maden wordes fele,
Wherof this lord hath hiede nome,
And dede hem bothe for to come
To the paleis, wher he schal ete,
And bad ordeine for here mete
Tuo pastes, whiche he let do make.
A capoun in that on was bake,
And in that other for to winne
Of florins al that mai withinne
He let do pute a gret richesse;
And evene aliche, as man mai gesse,
Outward thei were bothe tuo.
This begger was comanded tho,
He that which hield him to the king,
That he ferst chese upon this thing:
He sih hem, bot he felte hem noght,
So that upon his oghne thoght
He ches the capoun and forsok
That other, which his fela tok.
Bot whanne he wiste hou that it ferde,
He seide alowd, that men it herde,
'Nou have I certeinly conceived
That he mai lihtly be deceived,
That tristeth unto mannes helpe;
Bot wel is him whom God wol helpe,
For he stant on the siker side,
Which elles scholde go beside:
I se mi fela wel recovere,
And I mot duelle stille povere.'
Thus spak this begger his entente,
And povere he cam and povere he wente;
Of that he hath richesse soght,
His infortune it wolde noght.
So mai it schewe in sondri wise,
Betwen fortune and covoitise
The chance is cast upon a dee;
Bot yit fulofte a man mai se
Ynowe of suche natheles,
Whiche evere pute hemself in press
To gete hem good, and yit thei faile.
[Covetousness of Lovers]
And for to speke of this entaile
Touchende of love in thi matiere,
Mi goode sone, as thou miht hiere,
That riht as it with tho men stod
Of infortune of worldes good,
As thou hast herd me telle above,
Riht so fulofte it stant be love.
Thogh thou coveite it everemore,
Thou schalt noght have o diel the more,
Bot only that which thee is schape,
The remenant is bot a jape.
And natheles ynowe of tho
Ther ben, that nou coveiten so,
That where as thei a womman se,
Ye ten or tuelve thogh ther be,
The love is nou so unavised,
That wher the beauté stant assised,
The mannes herte anon is there,
And rouneth tales in hire ere,
And seith hou that he loveth streite,
And thus he set him to coveite,
An hundred thogh he sihe aday.
So wolde he more thanne he mai;
Bot for the grete covoitise
Of sotie and of fol emprise
In ech of hem he fint somwhat
That pleseth him, or this or that;
Som on, for sche is whit of skin,
Som on, for sche is noble of kin,
Som on, for sche hath rodi chieke,
Som on, for that sche semeth mieke,
Som on, for sche hath yhen greie,
Som on, for sche can lawhe and pleie,
Som on, for sche is long and smal,
Som on, for sche is lyte and tall,
Som on, for sche is pale and bleche,
Som on, for sche is softe of speche,
Som on, for that sche is camused,
Som on, for sche hath noght ben used,
Som on, for sche can daunce and singe;
So that som thing to his likinge
He fint, and thogh no more he fiele,
Bot that sche hath a litel hiele,
It is ynow that he therfore
Hire love, and thus an hundred score,
Whil thei be newe, he wolde he hadde;
Whom he forsakth, sche schal be badde.
The blinde man no colour demeth,
But al is on, riht as him semeth;
So hath his lust no juggement,
Whom covoitise of love blent.
Him thenkth that to his covoitise
Hou al the world ne mai suffise,
For be his wille he wolde have alle,
If that it mihte so befalle.
Thus is he commun as the strete,
I sette noght of his beyete.
Mi sone, hast thou such covoitise?"
"Nai, fader, such love I despise,
And whil I live schal don evere,
For in good feith yit hadde I levere,
Than to coveite in such a weie,
To ben forevere til I deie
As povere as Job, and loveles,
Outaken on, for haveles
His thonkes is no man alyve.
For that a man scholde al unthryve
Ther oghte no wisman coveite,
The lawe was noght set so streite:
Forthi miself withal to save,
Such on ther is I wolde have,
And non of al these othre mo."
"Mi sone, of that thou woldest so,
I am noght wroth, bot over this
I wol thee tellen hou it is.
For ther be men, whiche otherwise,
Riht only for the covoitise
Of that thei sen a womman riche,
Ther wol thei al here love affiche;
Noght for the beauté of hire face,
Ne yit for vertu ne for grace,
Which sche hath elles riht ynowh,
Bot for the park and for the plowh,
And other thing which therto longeth.
For in non other wise hem longeth
To love, bot thei profit finde;
And if the profit be behinde,
Here love is evere lesse and lesse,
For after that sche hath richesse,
Her love is of proporcion.
If thou hast such condicion,
Mi sone, tell riht as it is."
"Min holi fader, nay ywiss,
Condicion such have I non.
For trewli, fader, I love oon
So wel with al myn hertes thoght,
That certes, thogh sche hadde noght,
And were as povere as Medea,
Which was exiled for Creusa,
I wolde hir noght the lasse love;
Ne thogh sche were at hire above,
As was the riche qwen Candace,
Which to deserve love and grace
To Alisandre, that was king,
Gaf many a worthi riche thing,
Or elles as Pantasilee,
Which was the quen of Feminee,
And gret richesse with hir nam,
Whan sche for love of Hector cam
To Troie in rescousse of the toun,
I am of such condicion,
That thogh mi ladi of hirselve
Were also riche as suche tuelve,
I couthe noght, thogh it wer so,
No betre love hir than I do.
For I love in so plein a wise,
That for to speke of coveitise,
As for poverte or for richesse
Mi love is nouther mor ne lesse.
For in good feith I trowe this,
So coveitous no man ther is,
Forwhy and he mi ladi sihe,
That he thurgh lokinge of his yhe
Ne scholde have such a strok withinne,
That for no gold he mihte winne
He scholde noght hire love asterte,
Bot if he lefte there his herte;
Be so it were such a man,
That couthe skile of a womman.
For ther be men so ruide some,
Whan thei among the wommen come,
Thei gon under proteccioun,
That love and his affeccioun
Ne schal noght take hem be the slieve;
For thei ben out of that believe,
Hem lusteth of no ladi chiere,
Bot evere thenken there and hiere
Wher that here gold is in the cofre,
And wol non other love profre:
Bot who so wot what love amounteth
And be resoun trewliche acompteth,
Than mai he knowe and taken hiede
That al the lust of wommanhiede,
Which mai ben in a ladi face,
Mi ladi hath, and ek of grace
If men schull given hire a pris,
Thei mai wel seie hou sche is wys
And sobre and simple of contenance,
And al that to good governance
Belongeth of a worthi wiht
Sche hath pleinli: for thilke nyht
That sche was bore, as for the nones
Nature sette in hire at ones
Beauté with bounté so besein,
That I mai wel afferme and sein,
I sawh yit nevere creature
Of comelihied and of feture
In eny kinges regioun
Be lich hire in comparisoun:
And therto, as I have you told,
Yit hath sche more a thousendfold
Of bounté, and schortli to telle,
Sche is the pure hed and welle
And mirour and ensample of goode.
Who so hir vertus understode,
Me thenkth it oughte ynow suffise
Withouten other covoitise
To love such on and to serve,
Which with hire chiere can deserve
To be beloved betre ywiss
Than sche per cas that richest is
And hath of gold a milion.
Such hath be myn opinion
And evere schal. Bot natheles,
I seie noght sche is haveles,
That sche nys riche and wel at ese,
And hath ynow wherwith to plese
Of worldes good whom that hire liste;
Bot o thing wolde I wel ye wiste,
That nevere for no worldes good
Min herte untoward hire stod,
Bot only riht for pure love;
That wot the hihe God above.
Nou, fader, what seie ye therto?"
"Mi sone, I seie it is wel do.
For tak of this riht good believe,
What man that wole himself relieve
To love in eny other wise,
He schal wel finde his coveitise
Schal sore grieve him ate laste,
For such a love mai noght laste.
Bot nou, men sein, in oure daies
Men maken bot a fewe assaies,
Bot if the cause be richesse;
Forthi the love is wel the lesse.
And who that wolde ensamples telle,
Be olde daies as thei felle,
Than mihte a man wel understonde
Such love mai noght longe stonde.
Now herkne, sone, and thou schalt hiere
A gret ensample of this matiere.
[Tale of the King and his Steward's Wife]
To trete upon the cas of love,
So as we tolden hiere above,
I finde write a wonder thing.
Of Puile whilom was a king,
A man of hih complexioun
And yong, bot his affeccioun
After the nature of his age
Was yit noght falle in his corage
The lust of wommen for to knowe.
So it betidde upon a throwe
This lord fell into gret seknesse:
Phisique hath don the besinesse
Of sondri cures manyon
To make him hol; and therupon
A worthi maister which ther was
Gaf him conseil upon this cas,
That if he wolde have parfit hele,
He scholde with a womman dele,
A freissh, a yong, a lusti wiht,
To don him compaignie a nyht;
For thanne he seide him redily,
That he schal be al hol therby,
And otherwise he kneu no cure.
This king, which stod in aventure
Of lif and deth, for medicine
Assented was, and of covine
His steward, whom he tristeth wel,
He tok, and tolde him everydel,
Hou that this maister hadde seid.
And therupon he hath him preid
And charged upon his ligance,
That he do make porveance
Of such on as be covenable
For his plesance and delitable;
And bad him, hou that evere it stod,
That he schal spare for no good,
For his will is riht wel to paie.
The steward seide he wolde assaie.
Bot nou hierafter thou schalt wite,
As I finde in the bokes write,
What coveitise in love doth.
This steward, for to telle soth,
Amonges al the men alyve
A lusti ladi hath to wyve,
Which natheles for gold he tok
And noght for love, as seith the bok.
A riche marchant of the lond
Hir fader was, and hire fond
So worthily, and such richesse
Of worldes good and such largesse
With hire he gaf in mariage,
That only for thilke avantage
Of good this steward hath hire take,
For lucre and noght for loves sake,
And that was afterward wel seene.
Nou herkne what it wolde meene.
This steward in his oghne herte
Sih that his lord mai noght asterte
His maladie, bot he have
A lusti womman him to save,
And thoghte he wolde give ynowh
Of his tresor; wherof he drowh
Gret coveitise into his mynde,
And sette his honour fer behynde.
Thus he, whom gold hath overset,
Was trapped in his oghne net;
The gold hath mad hise wittes lame,
So that sechende his oghne schame
He rouneth in the kinges ere,
And seide him that he wiste where
A gentile and a lusti on
Tho was, and thider wolde he gon.
Bot he mot give giftes grete;
For bot it be thurgh gret beyete
Of gold, he seith, he schal noght spede.
The king him bad upon the nede
That take an hundred pound he scholde,
And give it where that he wolde,
Be so it were in worthi place.
And thus to stonde in loves grace
This king his gold hath abandouned.
And whan this tale was full rouned,
The steward tok the gold and wente,
Withinne his herte and many a wente
Of coveitise thanne he caste,
Wherof a pourpos ate laste
Agein love and agein his riht
He tok, and seide hou thilke nyht
His wif schal ligge be the king.
And goth thenkende upon this thing
Toward his in, til he cam hom
Into the chambre, and thanne he nom
His wif, and told hire al the cas.
And sche, which red for schame was,
With bothe hire handes hath him preid
Knelende and in this wise seid,
That sche to reson and to skile
In what thing that he bidde wile
Is redy for to don his heste,
Bot this thing were noght honeste,
That he for gold hire scholde selle.
And he tho with hise wordes felle
Forth with his gastly contienance
Seith that sche schal don obeissance
And folwe his will in every place.
And thus thurgh strengthe of his manace
Hir innocence is overlad,
Wherof sche was so sore adrad
That sche his will mot nede obeie.
And therupon was schape a weie,
That he his oghne wif be nyhte
Hath out of alle mennes sihte
So prively that non it wiste
Broght to the king, which as him liste
Mai do with hire what he wolde.
For whan sche was ther as sche scholde,
With him abedde under the cloth,
The steward tok his leve and goth
Into a chambre faste by.
Bot hou he slep, that wot noght I,
For he sih cause of jelousie.
Bot he, which hath the compainie
Of such a lusti on as sche,
Him thoghte that of his degré
Ther was no man so wel at ese.
Sche doth al that sche mai to plese,
So that his herte al hol sche hadde;
And thus this king his joie ladde,
Til it was nyh upon the day.
The steward thanne wher sche lay
Cam to the bedd, and in his wise
Hath bede that sche scholde arise.
The king seith, 'Nay, sche schal noght go.'
His steward seide agein, 'Noght so;
For sche mot gon er it be knowe,
And so I swor at thilke throwe,
Whan I hire fette to you hiere.'
The king his tale wol noght hiere,
And seith hou that he hath hire boght,
Forthi sche schal departe noght,
Til he the brighte dai beholde.
And cawhte hire in hise armes folde,
As he which liste for to pleie,
And bad his steward gon his weie,
And so he dede agein his wille.
And thus his wif abedde stille
Lay with the king the longe nyht,
Til that it was hih sonne lyht.
Bot who sche was he knew nothing.
Tho cam the steward to the king
And preide him that withoute schame
In savinge of hire goode name
He myhte leden hom agein
This lady, and hath told him plein
Hou that it was his oghne wif.
The king his ere unto this strif
Hath leid, and whan that he it herde,
Welnyh out of his wit he ferde,
And seide, 'Ha, caitif most of alle,
Wher was it evere er this befalle,
That eny cokard in this wise
Betok his wif for coveitise?
Thou hast bothe hire and me beguiled
And ek thin oghne astat reviled,
Wherof that buxom unto thee
Hierafter schal sche nevere be.
For this avou to God I make,
After this day if I thee take,
Thou schalt ben honged and todrawe.
Nou loke anon thou be withdrawe,
So that I se thee neveremore.'
This steward thanne dradde him sore,
With al the haste that he mai
And fledde awei that same dai,
And was exiled out of londe.
Lo, there a nyce housebonde,
Which thus hath lost his wif forevere!
Bot natheles sche hadde a levere:
The king hire weddeth and honoureth,
Wherof hire name sche socoureth,
Which erst was lost thurgh coveitise
Of him, that ladde hire other wise,
And hath himself also forlore.
Mi sone, be thou war therfore,
Wher thou schalt love in eny place,
That thou no covoitise embrace,
The which is noght of loves kinde.
Bot for al that a man mai finde
Nou in this time of thilke rage
Ful gret desese in mariage,
Whan venym melleth with the sucre
And mariage is mad for lucre,
Or for the lust or for the hele.
What man that schal with outher dele,
He mai noght faile to repente."
"Mi fader, such is myn entente:
Bot natheles good is to have,
For good mai ofte time save
The love which scholde elles spille.
Bot God, which wot myn hertes wille,
I dar wel take to witnesse;
Yit was I nevere for richesse
Beset with mariage non.
For al myn herte is upon on
So frely, that in the persone
Stant al my worldes joie alone.
I axe nouther park ne plowh:
If I hire hadde, it were ynowh,
Hir love scholde me suffise
Withouten other coveitise.
Lo now, mi fader, as of this,
Touchende of me riht as it is,
Mi schrifte I am beknowe plein;
And if ye wole oght elles sein,
Of covoitise if ther be more
In love, agropeth out the sore."
"Mi sone, thou schalt understonde
Hou Coveitise hath yit on honde
In special tuo conseilours,
That ben also hise procurours.
The ferst of hem is Falswitnesse,
Which evere is redi to witnesse
What thing his maister wol him hote.
Perjurie is the secounde hote,
Which spareth noght to swere an oth,
Thogh it be fals and God be wroth.
That on schal Falswitnesse bere,
That other schal the thing forswere,
Whan he is charged on the bok.
So what with hepe and what with crok
Thei make here maister ofte winne
And wol noght knowe what is sinne
For coveitise, and thus, men sain,
Thei maken many a fals bargain.
Ther mai no trewe querele arise
In thilke queste and thilke assise,
Where as thei tuo the poeple enforme;
For thei kepe evere o maner forme,
That upon gold here conscience
Thei founde, and take here evidence;
And thus with falswitnesse and othes
Thei winne him mete and drinke and clothes.
Riht so ther be, who that hem knewe,
Of thes lovers ful many untrewe:
Nou mai a womman finde ynowe,
That ech of hem, whan he schal wowe,
Anon he wole his hand doun lein
Upon a bok, and swere and sein
That he wole feith and trouthe bere.
And thus he profreth him to swere
To serven evere til he die.
And al is verai tricherie.
For whan the sothe himselven trieth,
The more he swerth, the more he lieth;
Whan he his feith makth althermest,
Than mai a womman truste him lest;
For til he mai his will achieve,
He is no lengere for to lieve.
Thus is the trouthe of love exiled,
And many a good womman beguiled.
And ek to speke of Falswitnesse,
Ther be nou many such, I gesse,
That lich unto the provisours
Thei make here privé procurours,
To telle hou ther is such a man,
Which is worthi to love and can
Al that a good man scholde kunne;
So that with lesinge is begunne
The cause in which thei wole procede,
And also siker as the Crede
Thei make of that thei knowen fals.
And thus fulofte aboute the hals
Love is of false men embraced;
Bot love which is so pourchaced
Comth afterward to litel pris.
Forthi, mi sone, if thou be wis,
Nou thou hast herd this evidence,
Thou miht thin oghne conscience
Oppose, if thou hast ben such on."
"Nai, God wot, fader, I am non,
Ne nevere was; for as men seith,
Whan that a man schal make his feith,
His herte and tunge moste acorde;
For if so be that thei discorde,
Thanne is he fals and elles noght:
And I dar seie, as of my thoght,
In love it is noght descordable
Unto mi word, bot acordable.
And in this wise, fader, I
Mai riht wel swere and salvely,
That I mi ladi love wel,
For that acordeth everydel.
It nedeth noght to mi sothsawe
That I witnesse scholde drawe,
Into this dai for nevere yit
Ne mihte it sinke into mi wit,
That I my conseil scholde seie
To eny wiht, or me bewreie
To sechen help in such manere,
Bot only of mi ladi diere.
And thogh a thousend men it wiste,
That I hire love, and thanne hem liste
With me to swere and to witnesse,
Yit were that no falswitnesse.
For I dar on this trouthe duelle,
I love hire mor than I can telle.
Thus am I, fader, gulteles,
As ye have herd, and natheles
In youre dom I put it al."
"Mi sone, wite in special,
It schal noght comunliche faile,
Althogh it for a time availe
That Falswitnesse his cause spede,
Upon the point of his falshiede
It schal wel afterward be kid;
Wherof, so as it is betid,
Ensample of suche thinges blinde
In a cronique write I finde.
[Tale of Achilles and Deidamia]
The goddesse of the see, Thetis,
Sche hadde a sone, and his name is
Achilles, whom to kepe and warde,
Whil he was yong, as into warde
Sche thoghte him salfly to betake,
As sche which dradde for his sake
Of that was seid in prophecie,
That he at Troie scholde die,
Whan that the cité was belein.
Forthi, so as the bokes sein,
Sche caste hire wit in sondri wise,
Hou sche him mihte so desguise
That no man scholde his bodi knowe.
And so befell that ilke throwe,
Whil that sche thoghte upon this dede,
Ther was a king, which Lichomede
Was hote, and he was wel begon
With faire dowhtres manyon,
And duelte fer out in an yle.
Nou schalt thou hiere a wonder wyle:
This queene, which the moder was
Of Achilles, upon this cas
Hire sone, as he a maiden were,
Let clothen in the same gere
Which longeth unto wommanhiede.
And he was yong and tok non hiede,
Bot soffreth al that sche him dede.
Wherof sche hath hire wommen bede
And charged be here othes alle,
Hou so it afterward befalle,
That thei discovere noght this thing,
Bot feigne and make a knowleching,
Upon the conseil which was nome,
In every place wher thei come
To telle and to witnesse this,
Hou he here ladi dowhter is.
And riht in such a maner wise
Sche bad thei scholde hire don servise,
So that Achilles underfongeth,
As to a yong ladi belongeth,
Honour, servise, and reverence.
For Thetis with gret diligence
Him hath so tawht and so afaited
That, hou so that it were awaited,
With sobre and goodli contenance
He scholde his wommanhiede avance,
That non the sothe knowe myhte,
Bot that in every mannes syhte
He scholde seme a pure maide.
And in such wise as sche him saide,
Achilles, which that ilke while
Was yong, upon himself to smyle
Began, whan he was so besein.
And thus, after the bokes sein,
With frette of perle upon his hed,
Al freissh betwen the whyt and red,
As he which tho was tendre of age,
Stod the colour in his visage,
That for to loke upon his cheke
And sen his childly manere eke,
He was a womman to beholde.
And thanne his moder to him tolde,
That sche him hadde so begon
Because that sche thoghte gon
To Lichomede at thilke tyde,
Wher that sche seide he scholde abyde
Among hise dowhtres for to duelle.
Achilles herde his moder telle,
And wiste noght the cause why;
And natheles ful buxomly
He was redy to that sche bad,
Wherof his moder was riht glad,
To Lichomede and forth thei wente.
And whan the king knew hire entente,
And sih this yonge dowhter there,
And that it cam unto his ere
Of such record, of such witnesse,
He hadde riht a gret gladnesse
Of that he bothe syh and herde,
As he that wot noght hou it ferde
Upon the conseil of the nede.
Bot for al that King Lichomede
Hath toward him this dowhter take,
And for Thetis his moder sake
He put hire into compainie
To duelle with Deidamie,
His oghne dowhter, the eldeste,
The faireste, and the comelieste
Of alle hise doghtres whiche he hadde.
Lo, thus Thetis the cause ladde,
And lefte there Achilles feigned,
As he which hath himself restreigned
In al that evere he mai and can
Out of the manere of a man,
And tok his wommannysshe chiere,
Wherof unto his beddefere
Deidamie he hath be nyhte.
Wher kinde wole himselve rihte,
After the philosophres sein,
Ther mai no wiht be theragein;
And that was thilke time seene.
The longe nyhtes hem betuene
Nature, which mai noght forbere,
Hath mad hem bothe for to stere.
Thei kessen ferst, and overmore
The hihe weie of loves lore
Thei gon, and al was don in dede,
Wherof lost is the maydenhede;
And that was afterward wel knowe.
For it befell that ilke throwe
At Troie, wher the siege lay
Upon the cause of Menelay
And of his queene Dame Heleine,
The Gregois hadden mochel peine
Alday to fihte and to assaile.
Bot for thei mihten noght availe
So noble a cité for to winne,
A privé conseil thei beginne,
In sondri wise wher thei trete;
And ate laste among the grete
Thei fellen unto this acord,
That Protheus, of his record
Which was an astronomien
And ek a gret magicien,
Scholde of his calculacion
Seche after constellacion,
Hou thei the cité mihten gete.
And he, which hadde noght forgete
Of that belongeth to a clerk,
His studie sette upon this werk.
So longe his wit aboute he caste,
Til that he fond out ate laste,
Bot if they hadden Achilles
Here werre schal ben endeles.
And over that he tolde hem plein
In what manere he was besein,
And in what place he schal be founde;
So that withinne a litel stounde
Ulixes forth with Diomede
Upon this point to Lichomede
Agamenon togedre sente.
Bot Ulixes, er he forth wente,
Which was on of the moste wise,
Ordeigned hath in such a wise,
That he the moste riche aray
Wherof a womman mai be gay
With him hath take manyfold,
And overmore, as it is told,
An harneis for a lusti kniht,
Which burned was as selver bryht,
Of swerd, of plate, and ek of maile,
As thogh he scholde to bataille,
He tok also with him be schipe.
And thus togedre in felaschipe
Forth gon this Diomede and he
In hope til thei mihten se
The place where Achilles is.
The wynd stod thanne noght amis,
Bot evene topseilcole it blew,
Til Ulixes the marche knew
Wher Lichomede his regne hadde.
The stieresman so wel hem ladde,
That thei ben comen sauf to londe,
Wher thei gon out upon the stronde
Into the burgh, wher that thei founde
The king, and he which hath facounde,
Ulixes, dede the message.
Bot the conseil of his corage,
Why that he cam, he tolde noght,
Bot undernethe he was bethoght
In what manere he mihte aspie
Achilles fro Deidamie
And fro these othre that ther were,
Full many a lusti ladi there.
Thei pleide hem there a day or tuo,
And as it was fortuned so,
It fell that time in such a wise,
To Bachus that a sacrifise
Thes yonge ladys scholden make;
And for the strange mennes sake,
That comen fro the siege of Troie,
Thei maden wel the more joie.
Ther was revel, ther was daunsinge,
And every lif which coude singe
Of lusti wommen in the route
A freissh carole hath sunge aboute.
Bot for al this yit natheles
The Greks unknowe of Achilles
So weren, that in no degré
Thei couden wite which was he,
Ne be his vois, ne be his pas.
Ulixes thanne upon this cas
A thing of hih prudence hath wroght,
For thilke aray, which he hath broght
To give among the wommen there,
He let do fetten al the gere
Forth with a knihtes harneis eke.
In al a contré for to seke
Men scholden noght a fairer se,
And every thing in his degré
Endlong upon a bord he leide.
To Lichomede and thanne he preide
That every ladi chese scholde
What thing of alle that sche wolde,
And take it as be weie of gifte;
For thei hemself it scholde schifte,
He seide, after here oghne wille.
Achilles thanne stod noght stille:
Whan he the bryhte helm behield,
The swerd, the hauberk, and the schield,
His herte fell therto anon;
Of all that othre wolde he non,
The knihtes gere he underfongeth,
And thilke aray which that belongeth
Unto the wommen he forsok.
And in this wise, as seith the bok,
Thei knowen thanne which he was.
For he goth forth the grete pas
Into the chambre where he lay;
Anon, and made no delay,
He armeth him in knyhtli wise,
That bettre can no man devise,
And as fortune scholde falle,
He cam so forth tofore hem alle,
As he which tho was glad ynowh.
But Lichomede nothing lowh,
Whan that he syh hou that it ferde,
For thanne he wiste wel and herde,
His dowhter hadde be forlein;
Bot that he was so oversein,
The wonder overgoth his wit.
For in cronique is write yit
Thing which schal nevere be forgete,
Hou that Achilles hath begete
Pirrus upon Deidamie,
Wherof cam out the tricherie
Of Falswitnesse, whan thei saide
Hou that Achilles was a maide.
Bot that was nothing seene tho,
For he is to the siege go
Forth with Ulixe and Diomede.
Lo, thus was proved in the dede
And fulli spoke at thilke while:
If o womman another guile,
Wher is ther eny sikernesse?
Whan Thetis, which was the goddesse,
Deidamie hath so bejaped,
I not hou it schal ben ascaped
With tho wommen whos innocence
Is nou alday thurgh such credence
Deceived ofte, as it is seene,
With men that such untrouthe meene.
For thei ben slyhe in such a wise,
That thei be sleihte and be queintise
Of Falswitnesse bringen inne
That doth hem ofte for to winne,
Wher thei ben noght worthi therto.
Forthi, mi sone, do noght so."
"Mi fader, as of Falswitnesse
The trouthe and the matiere expresse,
Touchende of love hou it hath ferd,
As ye have told, I have wel herd.
Bot for ye seiden otherwise,
Hou thilke vice of Covoitise
Hath yit Perjurie of his acord,
If that you list of som record
To telle another tale also
In loves cause of time ago,
What thing it is to be forswore,
I wolde preie you therfore,
Wherof I mihte ensample take."
"Mi goode sone, and for thi sake
Touchende of this I schal fulfille
Thin axinge at thin oghne wille,
And the matiere I schal declare,
Hou the wommen deceived are,
Whan thei so tendre herte bere,
Of that thei hieren men so swere;
Bot whan it comth unto th'assay,
Thei finde it fals another day,
As Jason dede to Medee,
Which stant yit of auctorité
In tokne and in memorial;
Wherof the tale in special
Is in the bok of Troie write,
Which I schal do thee for to wite.
[Tale of Jason and Medea]
In Grece whilom was a king,
Of whom the fame and knowleching
Beleveth yit, and Peleus
He hihte; bot it fell him thus,
That his Fortune hir whiel so ladde
That he no child his oghne hadde
To regnen after his decess.
He hadde a brother natheles,
Whos rihte name was Eson,
And he the worthi kniht Jason
Begat, the which in every lond
Alle othre passede of his hond
In armes, so that he the beste
Was named and the worthieste,
He soghte worschipe overal.
Nou herkne, and I thee telle schal
An aventure that he soghte,
Which afterward ful dere he boghte.
Ther was an yle, which Colchos
Was cleped, and therof aros
Gret speche in every lond aboute,
That such merveile was non oute
In al the wyde world nawhere,
As tho was in that yle there.
Ther was a schiep, as it was told,
The which his flees bar al of gold,
And so the goddes hadde it set,
That it ne mihte awei be fet
Be pouer of no worldes wiht.
And yit ful many a worthi kniht
It hadde assaied, as thei dorste,
And evere it fell hem to the worste.
Bot he, that wolde it noght forsake,
Bot of his knyhthod undertake
To do what thing therto belongeth,
This worthi Jason, sore alongeth
To se the strange regiouns
And knowe the condiciouns
Of othre marches where he wente;
And for that cause his hole entente
He sette Colchos for to seche,
And therupon he made a speche
To Peleus his em the king.
And he wel paid was of that thing;
And schop anon for his passage,
And suche as were of his lignage,
With othre knihtes whiche he ches,
With him he tok, and Hercules,
Which full was of chivalerie,
With Jason wente in compaignie;
And that was in the monthe of Maii,
Whan colde stormes were away.
The wynd was good, the schip was yare,
Thei tok here leve, and forth thei fare
Toward Colchos. Bot on the weie
What hem befell is long to seie;
Hou Lamedon the king of Troie,
Which oghte wel have mad hem joie,
Whan thei to reste a while him preide,
Out of his lond he hem congeide;
And so fell the dissencion,
Which after was destruccion
Of that cité, as men mai hiere.
Bot that is noght to mi matiere.
Bot thus this worthi folk Gregeis
Fro that king, which was noght curteis,
And fro his lond with sail updrawe
Thei wente hem forth, and many a sawe
Thei made and many a gret manace,
Til ate laste into that place
Which as thei soghte thei aryve,
And striken sail, and forth as blyve
Thei sente unto the king and tolden
Who weren ther and what thei wolden.
Oetes, which was thanne king,
Whan that he herde this tyding
Of Jason, which was comen there,
And of these othre, what thei were,
He thoghte don hem gret worschipe.
For thei anon come out of schipe,
And strawht unto the king thei wente,
And be the hond Jason he hente,
And that was ate paleis gate,
So fer the king cam on his gate
Toward Jason to don him chiere.
And he, whom lacketh no manere,
Whan he the king sih in presence,
Gaf him agein such reverence
As to a kinges stat belongeth.
And thus the king him underfongeth,
And Jason in his arm he cawhte,
And forth into the halle he strawhte,
And ther thei siete and spieke of thinges,
And Jason tolde him tho tidinges,
Why he was come, and faire him preide
To haste his time, and the kyng seide,
'Jason, thou art a worthi kniht,
Bot it lith in no mannes myht
To don that thou art come fore.
Ther hath be many a kniht forlore
Of that thei wolden it assaie.'
Bot Jason wolde him noght esmaie,
And seide, 'Of every worldes cure
Fortune stant in aventure,
Per aunter wel, per aunter wo.
Bot hou as evere that it go,
It schal be with myn hond assaied.'
The king tho hield him noght wel paied,
For he the Grekes sore dredde,
In aunter, if Jason ne spedde,
He mihte therof bere a blame.
For tho was al the worldes fame
In Grece, as for to speke of armes.
Forthi he dredde him of his harmes,
And gan to preche him and to preie.
Bot Jason wolde noght obeie,
Bot seide he wolde his porpos holde
For ought that eny man him tolde.
The king, whan he thes wordes herde,
And sih hou that this kniht ansuerde,
Yit for he wolde make him glad,
After Medea gon he bad,
Which was his dowhter, and sche cam.
And Jason, which good hiede nam,
Whan he hire sih, agein hire goth;
And sche, which was him nothing loth,
Welcomede him into that lond,
And softe tok him be the hond,
And doun thei seten bothe same.
Sche hadde herd spoke of his name
And of his grete worthinesse.
Forthi sche gan hir yhe impresse
Upon his face and his stature,
And thoghte hou nevere creature
Was so wel farende as was he.
And Jason riht in such degré
Ne mihte noght withholde his lok,
Bot so good hiede on hire he tok,
That him ne thoghte under the hevene
Of beauté sawh he nevere hir evene,
With al that fell to wommanhiede.
Thus ech of other token hiede,
Thogh ther no word was of record.
Here hertes bothe of on acord
Ben set to love, bot as tho
Ther mihten be no wordes mo.
The king mad him gret joie and feste,
To alle his men he gaf an heste,
So as thei wolde his thonk deserve,
That thei scholde alle Jason serve,
Whil that he wolde there duelle.
And thus the dai, schortly to telle,
With manye merthes thei despente,
Til nyht was come, and tho thei wente,
Echon of other tok his leve,
Whan thei no lengere myhten leve.
I not hou Jason that nyht slep,
Bot wel I wot that of the schep,
For which he cam into that yle,
He thoghte bot a litel whyle;
Al was Medea that he thoghte,
So that in many a wise he soghte
His witt wakende er it was day,
Som time yee, som time nay,
Som time thus, som time so,
As he was stered to and fro
Of love, and ek of his conqueste
As he was holde of his beheste.
And thus he ros up be the morwe
And tok himself Seint John to borwe,
And seide he wolde ferst beginne
At love, and after for to winne
The flees of gold, for which he com,
And thus to him good herte he nom.
Medea riht the same wise,
Til dai cam that sche moste arise,
Lay and bethoughte hire al the nyht,
Hou sche that noble worthi kniht
Be eny weie mihte wedde.
And wel sche wiste, if he ne spedde
Of thing which he hadde undertake,
Sche mihte hirself no porpos take;
For if he deide of his bataile,
Sche moste thanne algate faile
To geten him, whan he were ded.
Thus sche began to sette red
And torne aboute hir wittes alle,
To loke hou that it mihte falle
That sche with him hadde a leisir
To speke and telle of hir desir.
And so it fell that same day
That Jason with that suete may
Togedre sete and hadden space
To speke, and he besoughte hir grace.
And sche his tale goodli herde,
And afterward sche him ansuerde
And seide, 'Jason, as thou wilt,
Thou miht be sauf, thou miht be spilt;
For wite wel that nevere man,
Bot if he couthe that I can,
Ne mihte that fortune achieve
For which thou comst: bot as I lieve,
If thou wolt holde covenant
To love, of al the remenant
I schal thi lif and honour save,
That thou the flees of gold schalt have.'
He seide, 'Al at youre oghne wille,
Ma dame, I schal treuly fulfille
Youre heste, whil mi lif mai laste.'
Thus longe he preide, and ate laste
Sche granteth, and behihte him this,
That whan nyht comth and it time is,
Sche wolde him sende certeinly
Such on that scholde him prively
Alone into hire chambre bringe.
He thonketh hire of that tidinge,
For of that grace him is begonne
Him thenkth alle othre thinges wonne.
The dai made ende and lost his lyht,
And comen was the derke nyht,
Which al the daies yhe blente.
Jason tok leve and forth he wente,
And whan he cam out of the pres,
He tok to conseil Hercules,
And tolde him hou it was betid,
And preide it scholde wel ben hid,
And that he wolde loke aboute,
Therwhiles that he schal ben oute.
Thus as he stod and hiede nam,
A mayden fro Medea cam
And to hir chambre Jason ledde,
Wher that he fond redi to bedde
The faireste and the wiseste eke;
And sche with simple chiere and meke,
Whan sche him sih, wax al aschamed.
Tho was here tale newe entamed;
For sikernesse of mariage
Sche fette forth a riche ymage,
Which was figure of Jupiter,
And Jason swor and seide ther,
That also wiss god scholde him helpe,
That if Medea dede him helpe,
That he his pourpos myhte winne,
Thei scholde nevere parte atwinne,
Bot evere whil him lasteth lif,
He wolde hire holde for his wif.
And with that word thei kisten bothe.
And for thei scholden hem unclothe,
Ther cam a maide, and in hir wise
Sche dede hem bothe full servise,
Til that thei were in bedde naked.
I wot that nyht was wel bewaked;
Thei hadden bothe what thei wolde.
And thanne of leisir sche him tolde,
And gan fro point to point enforme
Of his bataile and al the forme,
Which as he scholde finde there,
Whan he to th'yle come were.
Sche seide, at entre of the pas
Hou Mars, which god of armes was,
Hath set tuo oxen sterne and stoute,
That caste fyr and flamme aboute
Bothe at the mouth and ate nase,
So that thei setten al on blase
What thing that passeth hem betwene,
And forthermore upon the grene
Ther goth the flees of gold to kepe
A serpent, which mai nevere slepe.
Thus who that evere scholde it winne,
The fyr to stoppe he mot beginne,
Which that the fierce bestes caste,
And daunte he mot hem ate laste,
So that he mai hem yoke and dryve;
And therupon he mot as blyve
The serpent with such strengthe assaile,
That he mai slen him be bataile;
Of which he mot the teth outdrawe,
As it belongeth to that lawe,
And thanne he mot tho oxen yoke,
Til thei have with a plowh tobroke
A furgh of lond, in which arowe
The teth of th'addre he moste sowe,
And therof schule arise knihtes
Wel armed up at alle rihtes.
Of hem is noght to taken hiede,
For ech of hem in hastihiede
Schal other slen with dethes wounde:
And thus whan thei ben leid to grounde,
Than mot he to the goddes preie,
And go so forth and take his preie.
Bot if he faile in eny wise
Of that ye hiere me devise,
Ther mai be set non other weie,
That he ne moste algates deie.
'Nou have I told the peril al:
I wol you tellen forth withal,'
Quod Medea to Jason tho,
'That ye schul knowen er ye go,
Agein the venym and the fyr
What schal ben the recoverir.
Bot, sire, for it is nyh day,
Ariseth up, so that I may
Delivere you what thing I have,
That mai youre lif and honour save.'
Thei weren bothe loth to rise,
Bot for thei weren bothe wise,
Up thei arisen ate laste.
Jason his clothes on him caste
And made him redi riht anon,
And sche hir scherte dede upon
And caste on hire a mantel clos,
Withoute more and thanne aros.
Tho tok sche forth a riche tye
Mad al of gold and of perrie,
Out of the which sche nam a ring,
The ston was worth al other thing.
Sche seide, whil he wolde it were,
Ther myhte no peril him dere,
In water mai it noght be dreynt,
Wher as it comth the fyr is queynt,
It daunteth ek the cruel beste,
Ther may no qued that man areste,
Wher so he be on see or lond,
Which hath that ring upon his hond:
And over that sche gan to sein,
That if a man wol ben unsein,
Withinne his hond hold clos the ston,
And he mai invisible gon.
The ring to Jason sche betauhte,
And so forth after sche him tauhte
What sacrifise he scholde make;
And gan out of hire cofre take
Him thoughte an hevenely figure,
Which al be charme and be conjure
Was wroght, and ek it was thurgh write
With names, which he scholde wite,
As sche him tauhte tho to rede;
And bad him, as he wolde spede,
Withoute reste of eny while,
Whan he were londed in that yle,
He scholde make his sacrifise
And rede his carecte in the wise
As sche him tauhte, on knes doun bent,
Thre sithes toward orient;
For so scholde he the goddes plese
And winne himselven mochel ese.
And whanne he hadde it thries rad,
To opne a buiste sche him bad,
Which sche ther tok him in present,
And was full of such oignement,
That ther was fyr ne venym non
That scholde fastnen him upon,
Whan that he were enoynt withal.
Forthi sche tauhte him hou he schal
Enoignte his armes al aboute,
And for he scholde nothing doute,
Sche tok him thanne a maner glu,
The which was of so gret vertu,
That where a man it wolde caste,
It scholde binde anon so faste
That no man mihte it don aweie.
And that sche bad be alle weie
He scholde into the mouthes throwen
Of tho tweie oxen that fyr blowen,
Therof to stoppen the malice;
The glu schal serve of that office.
And over that hir oignement,
Hir ring and hir enchantement
Agein the serpent scholde him were,
Til he him sle with swerd or spere.
And thanne he may saufliche ynowh
His oxen yoke into the plowh
And the teth sowe in such a wise,
Til he the knyhtes se arise,
And ech of other doun be leid
In such manere as I have seid.
Lo, thus Medea for Jason
Ordeigneth, and preith therupon
That he nothing forgete scholde,
And ek sche preith him that he wolde,
Whan he hath alle his armes don,
To grounde knele and thonke anon
The goddes, and so forth be ese
The flees of gold he scholde sese.
And whanne he hadde it sesed so,
That thanne he were sone ago
Withouten eny tariynge.
Whan this was seid, into wepinge
Sche fell, as sche that was thurgh nome
With love, and so fer overcome,
That al hir world on him sche sette.
Bot whan sche sih ther was no lette,
That he mot nedes parte hire fro,
Sche tok him in hire armes tuo,
An hundred time and gan him kisse,
And seide, 'O, al mi worldes blisse,
Mi trust, mi lust, mi lif, min hele,
To be thin helpe in this querele
I preie unto the goddes alle.'
And with that word sche gan doun falle
On swoune, and he hire uppe nam,
And forth with that the maiden cam,
And thei to bedde anon hir broghte,
And thanne Jason hire besoghte,
And to hire seide in this manere:
'Mi worthi lusti ladi dere,
Conforteth you, for be my trouthe
It schal noght fallen in mi slouthe
That I ne wol thurghout fulfille
Youre hestes at youre oghne wille.
And yit I hope to you bringe
Withinne a while such tidinge,
The which schal make ous bothe game.'
Bot for he wolde kepe hir name,
Whan that he wiste it was nyh dai,
He seide, 'A dieu, mi swete mai.'
And forth with him he nam his gere,
Which as sche hadde take him there,
And strauht unto his chambre he wente,
And goth to bedde and slep him hente,
And lay, that no man him awok,
For Hercules hiede of him tok,
Til it was undren hih and more.
And thanne he gan to sighe sore
And sodeinliche abreide of slep;
And thei that token of him kep,
His chamberleins, be sone there,
And maden redi al his gere,
And he aros and to the king
He wente, and seide hou to that thing
For which he cam he wolde go.
The king therof was wonder wo,
And for he wolde him fain withdrawe,
He tolde him many a dredful sawe,
Bot Jason wolde it noght recorde,
And ate laste thei acorde.
Whan that he wolde noght abide,
A bot was redy ate tyde,
In which this worthi kniht of Grece
Ful armed up at every piece,
To his bataile which belongeth,
Tok ore on honde and sore him longeth,
Til he the water passed were.
Whan he cam to that yle there,
He set him on his knes doun strauht,
And his carecte, as he was tawht,
He radde, and made his sacrifise,
And siththe enoignte him in that wise
As Medea him hadde bede;
And thanne aros up fro that stede,
And with the glu the fyr he queynte,
And anon after he atteinte
The grete serpent and him slowh.
Bot erst he hadde sorwe ynowh,
For that serpent made him travaile
So harde and sore of his bataile,
That nou he stod and nou he fell.
For longe time it so befell,
That with his swerd ne with his spere
He mihte noght that serpent dere.
He was so scherded al aboute,
It hield all eggetol withoute,
He was so ruide and hard of skin,
Ther mihte nothing go therin;
Venym and fyr togedre he caste,
That he Jason so sore ablaste,
That if ne were his oignement,
His ring and his enchantement,
Which Medea tok him tofore,
He hadde with that worm be lore;
Bot of vertu which therof cam
Jason the dragon overcam.
And he anon the teth outdrouh,
And sette his oxen in a plouh,
With which he brak a piece of lond
And sieu hem with his oghne hond.
Tho mihte he gret merveile se:
Of every toth in his degré
Sprong up a kniht with spere and schield,
Of whiche anon riht in the field
Ech on slow other; and with that
Jason Medea noght forgat,
On bothe his knes he gan doun falle,
And gaf thonk to the goddes alle.
The flees he tok and goth to bote,
The sonne schyneth bryhte and hote,
The flees of gold schon forth withal,
The water glistreth overal.
Medea wepte and sigheth ofte,
And stod upon a tour alofte:
Al prively withinne hirselve,
Ther herde it nouther ten ne tuelve,
Sche preide, and seide, 'O, god him spede,
The kniht which hath mi maidenhiede!'
And ay sche loketh toward th'yle.
Bot whan sche sih withinne a while
The flees glistrende agein the sonne,
Sche saide, 'Ha lord, now al is wonne.
Mi kniht the field hath overcome.
Nou wolde god he were come,
Ha lord, that he ne were alonde!'
Bot I dar take this on honde,
If that sche hadde wynges tuo,
Sche wolde have flowe unto him tho
Strawht ther he was into the bot.
The dai was clier, the sonne hot,
The Gregeis weren in gret doute,
The whyle that here lord was oute.
Thei wisten noght what scholde tyde,
Bot waiten evere upon the tyde,
To se what ende scholde falle.
Ther stoden ek the nobles alle
Forth with the comun of the toun;
And as thei loken up and doun,
Thei weren war withinne a throwe,
Wher cam the bot, which thei wel knowe,
And sihe hou Jason broghte his preie.
And tho thei gonnen alle seie,
And criden alle with o stevene,
'Ha, wher was evere under the hevene
So noble a knyht as Jason is?'
And wel nyh alle seiden this,
That Jason was a faie kniht,
For it was nevere of mannes miht
The flees of gold so for to winne;
And thus to talen thei beginne.
With that the king com forth anon,
And sih the flees, hou that it schon;
And whan Jason cam to the lond,
The king himselve tok his hond
And kist him, and gret joie him made.
The Gregeis weren wonder glade,
And of that thing riht merie hem thoghte,
And forth with hem the flees thei broghte,
And ech on other gan to leyhe;
Bot wel was him that mihte neyhe,
To se therof the propreté.
And thus thei passen the cité
And gon unto the paleis straght.
Medea, which forgat him naght,
Was redy there, and seide anon,
'Welcome, O worthi kniht Jason.'
Sche wolde have kist him wonder fayn,
Bot schame tornede hire agayn;
It was noght the manere as tho,
Forthi sche dorste noght do so.
Sche tok hire leve, and Jason wente
Into his chambre, and sche him sente
Hire maide to sen hou he ferde;
The which whan that sche sih and herde,
Hou that he hadde faren oute
And that it stod wel al aboute,
Sche tolde hire ladi what sche wiste,
And sche for joie hire maide kiste.
The bathes weren thanne araied,
With herbes tempred and assaied,
And Jason was unarmed sone
And dede as it befell to done.
Into his bath he wente anon
And wyssh him clene as eny bon;
He tok a sopp, and oute he cam,
And on his beste aray he nam,
And kempde his hed, whan he was clad,
And goth him forth al merie and glad
Riht strawht into the kinges halle.
The king cam with his knihtes alle
And maden him glad welcominge;
And he hem tolde the tidinge
Of this and that, hou it befell,
Whan that he wan the schepes fell.
Medea, whan sche was asent,
Com sone to that parlement,
And whan sche mihte Jason se,
Was non so glad of alle as sche.
Ther was no joie for to seche:
Of him mad every man a speche;
Som man seid on, som man seide other.
Bot thogh he were goddes brother
And mihte make fyr and thonder,
Ther mihte be no more wonder
Than was of him in that cité.
Ech on tauhte other, 'This is he,
Which hath in his pouer withinne
That al the world ne mihte winne.
Lo, hier the beste of alle goode.'
Thus saiden thei that there stode,
And ek that walkede up and doun,
Bothe of the court and of the toun.
The time of souper cam anon,
Thei wisshen, and therto thei gon.
Medea was with Jason set.
Tho was ther many a deynté fet
And set tofore hem on the bord,
Bot non so likinge as the word
Which was ther spoke among hem tuo,
So as thei dorste speke tho.
Bot thogh thei hadden litel space,
Yit thei acorden in that place
Hou Jason scholde come at nyht,
Whan every torche and every liht
Were oute, and thanne of other thinges
Thei spieke aloud for supposinges
Of hem that stoden there aboute.
For love is everemore in doute,
If that it be wisly governed
Of hem that ben of love lerned.
Whan al was don, that dissh and cuppe
And cloth and bord and al was uppe,
Thei waken whil hem lest to wake,
And after that thei leve take
And gon to bedde for to reste.
And whan him thoghte for the beste,
That every man was faste aslepe,
Jason, that wolde his time kepe,
Goth forth stalkende al prively
Unto the chambre, and redely
Ther was a maide, which him kepte.
Medea wok and nothing slepte,
Bot natheles sche was abedde,
And he with alle haste him spedde
And made him naked and al warm.
Anon he tok hire in his arm:
What nede is for to speke of ese?
Hem list ech other for to plese,
So that thei hadden joie ynow.
And tho thei setten whanne and how
That sche with him awey schal stele.
With wordes suche and othre fele
Whan al was treted to an ende,
Jason tok leve and gan forth wende
Unto his oughne chambre in pes.
Ther wiste it non bot Hercules.
He slepte and ros whan it was time,
And whanne it fell towardes prime,
He tok to him suche as he triste
In secre, that non other wiste,
And told hem of his conseil there,
And seide that his wille were
That thei to schipe hadde alle thinge
So priveliche in th'evenynge,
That no man mihte here dede aspie
Bot tho that were of compaignie:
For he woll go withoute leve,
And lengere woll he noght beleve;
Bot he ne wolde at thilke throwe
That king or queene scholde it knowe.
Thei saide, 'Al this schal wel be do.'
And Jason truste wel therto.
Medea in the menewhile,
Which thoghte hir fader to beguile,
The tresor which hir fader hadde
With hire al priveli sche ladde,
And with Jason at time set
Awey sche stal and fond no let,
And straght sche goth hire unto schipe
Of Grece with that felaschipe,
And thei anon drowe up the seil.
And al that nyht this was conseil,
Bot erly, whan the sonne schon,
Men syhe hou that thei were agon,
And come unto the king and tolde.
And he the sothe knowe wolde,
And axeth where his dowhter was.
Ther was no word bot 'Out, allas!'
Sche was ago. The moder wepte,
The fader as a wod man lepte,
And gan the time for to warie,
And swor his oth he wol noght tarie,
That with caliphe and with galeie
The same cours, the same weie,
Which Jason tok, he wolde take,
If that he mihte him overtake.
To this thei seiden alle 'Yee.'
Anon thei weren ate see,
And alle, as who seith, at a word
Thei gon withinne schipes bord,
The sail goth up, and forth thei strauhte.
Bot non espleit therof thei cauhte,
And so thei tornen hom agein,
For al that labour was in vein.
Jason to Grece with his preie
Goth thurgh the see the rihte weie:
Whan he ther com and men it tolde,
Thei maden joie yonge and olde.
Eson, whan that he wiste of this,
Hou that his sone comen is,
And hath achieved that he soughte
And hom with him Medea broughte,
In al the wyde world was non
So glad a man as he was on.
Togedre ben these lovers tho,
Til that thei hadden sones tuo,
Wherof thei weren bothe glade;
And olde Eson gret joie made
To sen th'encress of his lignage,
For he was of so gret an age,
That men awaiten every day
Whan that he scholde gon away.
Jason, which sih his fader old,
Upon Medea made him bold,
Of art magique, which sche couthe,
And preith hire that his fader youthe
Sche wolde make ageinward newe:
And sche, that was toward him trewe,
Behihte him that sche wolde it do,
Whan that sche time sawh therto.
Bot what sche dede in that matiere
It is a wonder thing to hiere.
Bot yit for the novellerie
I thenke tellen a partie.
Thus it befell upon a nyht,
Whan ther was noght bot sterreliht,
Sche was vanyssht riht as hir liste,
That no wyht bot hirself it wiste,
And that was ate mydnyht tyde.
The world was stille on every side;
With open hed and fot al bare,
Hir her tosprad sche gan to fare,
Upon hir clothes gert sche was,
Al specheles and on the gras
Sche glod forth as an addre doth.
Non otherwise sche ne goth,
Til sche cam to the freisshe flod,
And there a while sche withstod.
Thries sche torned hire aboute,
And thries ek sche gan doun loute
And in the flod sche wette hir her,
And thries on the water ther
Sche gaspeth with a drecchinge onde,
And tho sche tok hir speche on honde.
Ferst sche began to clepe and calle
Upward unto the sterres alle,
To wynd, to air, to see, to lond
Sche preide, and ek hield up hir hond,
To Echates and gan to crie,
Which is goddesse of sorcerie.
Sche seide, 'Helpeth at this nede,
And as ye maden me to spede,
Whan Jason cam the flees to seche,
So help me nou, I you beseche.'
With that sche loketh and was war,
Doun fro the sky ther cam a char,
The which Dragouns aboute drowe:
And tho sche gan hir hed doun bowe,
And up sche styh, and faire and wel
Sche drof forth bothe char and whel
Above in th'air among the skyes.
The lond of Crete and tho parties
Sche soughte, and faste gan hire hye,
And there upon the hulles hyhe
Of Othrin and Olimpe also,
And ek of othre hulles mo,
Sche fond and gadreth herbes suote,
Sche pulleth up som be the rote,
And manye with a knyf sche scherth,
And alle into hir char sche berth.
Thus whan sche hath the hulles sought,
The flodes ther forgat sche nought,
Eridian and Amphrisos,
Peneie and ek Spercheidos,
To hem sche wente and ther sche nom
Bothe of the water and the fom,
The sond and ek the smale stones,
Whiche as sche ches out for the nones,
And of the Rede See a part,
That was behovelich to hire art,
Sche tok, and after that aboute
Sche soughte sondri sedes oute
In feldes and in many greves,
And ek a part sche tok of leves:
Bot thing which mihte hire most availe
Sche fond in Crete and in Thessaile.
In daies and in nyhtes nyne,
With gret travaile and with gret pyne,
Sche was pourveid of every piece,
And torneth homward into Grece.
Before the gates of Eson
Hir char sche let awai to gon,
And tok out ferst that was therinne;
For tho sche thoghte to beginne
Such thing as semeth impossible,
And made hirselven invisible,
As sche that was with air enclosed
And mihte of no man be desclosed.
Sche tok up turves of the lond
Withoute helpe of mannes hond,
Al heled with the grene gras,
Of which an alter mad ther was
Unto Echates the goddesse
Of art magique and the maistresse,
And eft another to Juvente,
As sche which dede hir hole entente.
Tho tok sche fieldwode and verveyne,
Of herbes be noght betre tueyne,
Of which anon withoute let
These alters ben aboute set.
Tuo sondri puttes faste by
Sche made, and with that hastely
A wether which was blak sche slouh,
And out therof the blod sche drouh
And dede into the pettes tuo;
Warm melk sche putte also therto
With hony meynd: and in such wise
Sche gan to make hir sacrifice,
And cride and preide forth withal
To Pluto the god infernal,
And to the queene Proserpine.
And so sche soghte out al the line
Of hem that longen to that craft,
Behinde was no name laft,
And preide hem alle, as sche wel couthe,
To grante Eson his ferste youthe.
This olde Eson broght forth was tho.
Awei sche bad alle othre go
Upon peril that mihte falle;
And with that word thei wenten alle,
And leften there hem tuo alone.
And tho sche gan to gaspe and gone,
And made signes many on,
And seide hir wordes therupon;
So that with spellinge of hir charmes
Sche tok Eson in bothe hire armes,
And made him for to slepe faste,
And him upon hire herbes caste.
The blake wether tho sche tok,
And hiewh the fleissh, as doth a cok;
On either alter part sche leide,
And with the charmes that sche seide
A fyr doun fro the sky alyhte
And made it for to brenne lyhte.
Bot whan Medea sawh it brenne,
Anon sche gan to sterte and renne
The fyri aulters al aboute:
Ther was no beste which goth oute
More wylde than sche semeth ther.
Aboute hir schuldres hyng hir her
As thogh sche were oute of hir mynde
And torned in another kynde.
Tho lay ther certein wode cleft,
Of which the pieces nou and eft
Sche made hem in the pettes wete,
And put hem in the fyri hete,
And tok the brond with al the blase,
And thries sche began to rase
Aboute Eson, ther as he slepte;
And eft with water, which sche kepte,
Sche made a cercle aboute him thries,
And eft with fyr of sulphre twyes.
Ful many another thing sche dede,
Which is noght writen in this stede.
Bot tho sche ran so up and doun,
Sche made many a wonder soun,
Somtime lich unto the cock,
Somtime unto the laverock,
Somtime kacleth as an hen,
Somtime spekth as don the men.
And riht so as hir jargoun strangeth,
In sondri wise hir forme changeth,
Sche semeth faie and no womman;
For with the craftes that sche can
Sche was, as who seith, a goddesse;
And what hir liste, more or lesse,
Sche dede, in bokes as we finde,
That passeth over manneskinde.
Bot who that wole of wondres hiere,
What thing sche wroghte in this matiere,
To make an ende of that sche gan,
Such merveile herde nevere man.
Apointed in the newe mone,
Whan it was time for to done,
Sche sette a caldron on the fyr,
In which was al the hole atir,
Wheron the medicine stod,
Of jus, of water, and of blod,
And let it buile in such a plit,
Til that sche sawh the spume whyt;
And tho sche caste in rynde and rote,
And sed and flour that was for bote,
With many an herbe and many a ston,
Wherof sche hath ther many on.
And ek Cimpheius the serpent
To hire hath alle his scales lent,
Chelidre hire gaf his addres skin,
And sche to builen caste hem in;
A part ek of the horned oule,
The which men hiere on nyhtes houle;
And of a raven, which was told
Of nyne hundred wynter old,
Sche tok the hed with al the bile;
And as the medicine it wile,
Sche tok therafter the bouele
Of the seewolf, and for the hele
Of Eson, with a thousand mo
Of thinges that sche hadde tho,
In that Caldroun togedre as blyve
Sche putte, and tok thanne of olyve
A drie branche hem with to stere,
The which anon gan floure and bere
And waxe al freissh and grene agein.
Whan sche this vertu hadde sein,
Sche let the leste drope of alle
Upon the bare flor doun falle;
Anon ther sprong up flour and gras,
Where as the drope falle was,
And wox anon al medwe grene,
So that it mihte wel be sene.
Medea thanne knew and wiste
Hir medicine is for to triste,
And goth to Eson ther he lay,
And tok a swerd was of assay,
With which a wounde upon his side
Sche made, that therout mai slyde
The blod withinne, which was old
And sek and trouble and fieble and cold.
And tho sche tok unto his us
Of herbes al the beste jus,
And poured it into his wounde;
That made his veynes fulle and sounde.
And tho sche made his wounde clos,
And tok his hand, and up he ros,
And tho sche gaf him drinke a drauhte,
Of which his youthe agein he cauhte,
His hed, his herte, and his visage
Lich unto twenty wynter age.
Hise hore heres were away,
And lich unto the freisshe Maii,
Whan passed ben the colde schoures,
Riht so recovereth he his floures.
Lo, what mihte eny man devise,
A womman schewe in eny wise
Mor hertly love in every stede,
Than Medea to Jason dede?
Ferst sche made him the flees to winne,
And after that fro kiththe and kinne
With gret tresor with him sche stal,
And to his fader forth withal
His elde hath torned into youthe,
Which thing non other womman couthe.
Bot hou it was to hire aquit,
The remembrance duelleth yit.
King Peleus his em was ded,
Jason bar corone on his hed,
Medea hath fulfild his wille.
Bot whanne he scholde of riht fulfille
The trouthe, which to hire afore
He hadde in th'yle of Colchos swore,
Tho was Medea most deceived.
For he another hath received,
Which dowhter was to King Creon.
Creusa sche hihte, and thus Jason,
As he that was to love untrewe,
Medea lefte and tok a newe.
Bot that was after sone aboght:
Medea with hire art hath wroght
Of cloth of gold a mantel riche,
Which semeth worth a kinges riche,
And that was unto Creusa sent
In name of gifte and of present,
For sosterhode hem was betuene;
And whan that yonge freisshe queene
That mantel lappeth hire aboute,
Anon therof the fyr sprong oute
And brente hir bothe fleissh and bon.
Tho cam Medea to Jason
With bothe his sones on hire hond,
And seide, 'O thou of every lond
The moste untrewe creature,
Lo, this schal be thi forfeture.'
With that sche bothe his sones slouh
Before his yhe, and he outdrouh
His swerd and wold have slayn hir tho,
Bot farewel, sche was ago
Unto Pallas the court above,
Wher as sche pleigneth upon love,
As sche that was with that goddesse,
And he was left in gret destresse.
Thus miht thou se what sorwe it doth
To swere an oth which is noght soth,
In loves cause namely.
Mi sone, be wel war forthi,
And kep that thou be noght forswore:
For this, which I have told tofore,
Ovide telleth everydel."
"Mi fader, I may lieve it wel,
For I have herde it ofte seie
Hou Jason tok the flees aweie
Fro Colchos, bot yit herde I noght
Be whom it was ferst thider broght.
And for it were good to hiere,
If that you liste at mi preiere
To telle, I wolde you beseche."
"Mi sone, who that wole it seche,
In bokes he mai finde it write;
And natheles, if thou wolt wite,
In the manere as thou hast preid
I schal thee telle hou it is seid.
[Tale of Phrixus and Helle]
The fame of thilke schepes fell,
Which in Colchos, as it befell,
Was al of gold, schal nevere deie;
Wherof I thenke for to seie
Hou it cam ferst into that yle.
Ther was a king in thilke whyle
Towardes Grece, and Athemas
The cronique of his name was;
And hadde a wif, which Philen hihte,
Be whom, so as fortune it dihte,
He hadde of children yonge tuo.
Frixus, the ferste was of tho,
A knave child, riht fair withalle;
A dowhter ek, the which men calle
Hellen, he hadde be this wif.
Bot for ther mai no mannes lif
Endure upon this erthe hiere,
This worthi queene, as thou miht hiere,
Er that the children were of age,
Tok of hire ende the passage,
With gret worschipe and was begrave.
What thing it liketh god to have
It is gret reson to ben his;
Forthi this king, so as it is,
With gret suffrance it underfongeth:
And afterward, as him belongeth,
Whan it was time for to wedde,
A newe wif he tok to bedde,
Which Yno hihte and was a mayde,
And ek the dowhter, as men saide,
Of Cadmé, which a king also
Was holde in thilke daies tho.
Whan Yno was the kinges make,
Sche caste hou that sche mihte make
These children to here fader lothe,
And schope a wyle agein hem bothe,
Which to the king was al unknowe.
A yeer or tuo sche let do sowe
The lond with sode whete aboute,
Wherof no corn mai springen oute;
And thus be sleyhte and be covine
Aros the derthe and the famine
Thurghout the lond in such a wise,
So that the king a sacrifise
Upon the point of this destresse
To Ceres, which is the goddesse
Of corn, hath schape him for to give,
To loke if it mai be forgive,
The meschief which was in his lond.
Bot sche, which knew tofor the hond
The circumstance of al this thing,
Agein the cominge of the king
Into the temple, hath schape so,
Of hire acord that alle tho
Whiche of the temple prestes were
Have seid and full declared there
Unto the king, bot if so be
That he delivere the contré
Of Frixus and of Hellen bothe,
With whom the goddes ben so wrothe,
That whil tho children ben therinne,
Such tilthe schal no man beginne,
Wherof to gete him eny corn.
Thus was it seid, thus was it sworn
Of all the prestes that ther are;
And sche which causeth al this fare
Seid ek therto what that sche wolde,
And every man thanne after tolde
So as the queene hem hadde preid.
The king, which hath his ere leid,
And lieveth al that evere he herde,
Unto here tale thus ansuerde,
And seith that levere him is to chese
Hise children bothe for to lese,
Than him and al the remenant
Of hem whiche are aportenant
Unto the lond which he schal kepe,
And bad his wif to take kepe
In what manere is best to done,
That thei delivered weren sone
Out of this world. And sche anon
Tuo men ordeigneth for to gon.
Bot ferst sche made hem for to swere
That thei the children scholden bere
Unto the see, that non it knowe,
And hem therinne bothe throwe.
The children to the see ben lad,
Wher in the wise as Yno bad
These men be redy for to do.
Bot the goddesse which Juno
Is hote, appiereth in the stede,
And hath unto the men forbede
That thei the children noght ne sle,
Bot bad hem loke into the see
And taken hiede of that thei sihen.
Ther swam a schep tofore here yhen,
Whos flees of burned gold was al;
And this goddesse forth withal
Comandeth that withoute lette
Thei scholde anon these children sette
Above upon this schepes bak;
And al was do, riht as sche spak,
Wherof the men gon hom agein.
And fell so, as the bokes sein,
Hellen the yonge mayden tho,
Which of the see was wobego,
For pure drede hire herte hath lore,
That fro the schep, which hath hire bore,
As sche that was swounende feint,
Sche fell, and hath hirselve dreint;
With Frixus and this schep forth swam,
Til he to th'yle of Colchos cam,
Where Juno the goddesse he fond,
Which tok the schep unto the lond,
And sette it there in such a wise
As thou tofore hast herd devise,
Wherof cam after al the wo,
Why Jason was forswore so
Unto Medee, as it is spoke."
"Mi fader, who that hath tobroke
His trouthe, as ye have told above,
He is noght worthi for to love
Ne be beloved, as me semeth.
Bot every newe love quemeth
To him which newefongel is.
And natheles nou after this,
If that you list to taken hiede
Upon mi schrifte to procede,
In loves cause agein the vice
Of covoitise and Avarice
What ther is more I wolde wite."
"Mi sone, this I finde write,
Ther is yit on of thilke brood,
Which only for the worldes good,
To make a tresor of moneie,
Put alle conscience aweie.
Wherof in thi confession
The name and the condicion
I schal hierafterward declare,
Which makth on riche, another bare."
Plus capit vsura sibi quam debetur, et illud
Fraude colorata sepe latenter agit.
Sic amor excessus quamsepe suos vt auarus
Spirat, et vnius tres capit ipse loco.7
"Upon the bench sittende on hih
With Avarice Usure I sih,
Full clothed of his oghne suite,
Which after gold makth chace and suite
With his brocours, that renne aboute
Lich unto racches in a route.
Such lucre is non above grounde,
Which is noght of tho racches founde;
For wher thei se beyete sterte,
That schal hem in no wise asterte,
Bot thei it dryve into the net
Of lucre, which Usure hath set.
Usure with the riche duelleth,
To al that evere he beith and selleth
He hath ordeined of his sleyhte
Mesure double and double weyhte.
Outward he selleth be the lasse,
And with the more he makth his tasse,
Wherof his hous is full withinne.
He reccheth noght, be so he winne,
Though that ther lese ten or tuelve:
His love is al toward himselve
And to non other, bot he se
That he mai winne suche thre.
For wher he schal oght give or lene,
He wol ageinward take a bene,
Ther he hath lent the smale pese.
And riht so ther ben manye of these
Lovers, that thogh thei love a lyte,
That scarsly wolde it weie a myte,
Yit wolde thei have a pound again,
As doth Usure in his bargain.
Bot certes such usure unliche
It falleth more unto the riche,
Als wel of love as of beyete,
Than unto hem that be noght grete,
And, as who seith, ben simple and povere.
For sielden is whan thei recovere,
Bot if it be thurgh gret decerte.
And natheles men se poverte
With porsuite and continuance
Fulofte make a gret chevance
And take of love his avantage,
Forth with the help of his brocage
That maken seme wher it is noght.
And thus fulofte is love boght
For litel what, and mochel take,
With false weyhtes that thei make.
Nou, sone, of that I seide above
Thou wost what Usure is of love:
Tell me forthi what so thou wilt,
If thou therof hast eny gilt."
"Mi fader, nay, for ought I hiere.
For of tho pointz ye tolden hiere
I wol you be mi trouthe assure,
Mi weyhte of love and mi mesure
Hath be mor large and mor certein
Than evere I tok of love agein:
For so yit couthe I nevere of sleyhte,
To take agein be double weyhte
Of love mor than I have give.
For als so wiss mot I be schrive
And have remission of sinne,
As so yit couthe I nevere winne,
Ne yit so mochel, soth to sein,
That evere I mihte have half agein
Of so full love as I have lent.
And if myn happ were so wel went,
That for the hole I mihte have half,
Me thenkth I were a goddes half.
For where Usure wole have double,
Mi conscience is noght so trouble,
I biede nevere as to my del
Bot of the hole an halvendel;
That is non excess, as me thenketh.
Bot natheles it me forthenketh,
For wel I wot that wol noght be,
For every day the betre I se
That hou so evere I give or lene
Mi love in place ther I mene,
For oght that evere I axe or crave,
I can nothing ageinward have.
Bot yit for that I wol noght lete,
What so befalle of mi beyete,
That I ne schal hire give and lene
Mi love and al mi thoght so clene,
That toward me schal noght beleve.
And if sche of hire goode leve
Rewarde wol me noght again,
I wot the laste of my bargain
Schal stonde upon so gret a lost,
That I mai neveremor the cost
Recovere in this world til I die.
So that touchende of this partie
I mai me wel excuse and schal;
And for to speke forth withal,
If eny brocour for me wente,
That point cam nevere in myn entente.
So that the more me merveilleth,
What thing it is mi ladi eilleth,
That al myn herte and al my time
Sche hath, and doth no betre bime.
I have herd seid that thoght is fre,
And natheles in priveté
To you, mi fader, that ben hiere
Min hole schrifte for to hiere,
I dar min herte wel desclose.
Touchende Usure, as I suppose,
Which as ye telle in love is used,
Mi ladi mai noght ben excused;
That for o lokinge of hire ye
Min hole herte til I dye
With al that evere I may and can
Sche hath me wonne to hire man.
Wherof, me thenkth, good reson wolde
That sche somdel rewarde scholde,
And give a part, ther sche hath al.
I not what falle hierafter schal,
Bot into nou yit dar I sein,
Hire liste nevere give agein
A goodli word in such a wise,
Wherof min hope miht arise,
Mi grete love to compense.
I not hou sche hire conscience
Excuse wole of this usure;
Be large weyhte and gret mesure
Sche hath mi love, and I have noght
Of that which I have diere boght,
And with myn herte I have it paid.
Bot al that is asyde laid,
And I go loveles aboute.
Hire oghte stonde in ful gret doute,
Til sche redresce such a sinne,
That sche wole al mi love winne
And gifth me noght to live by;
Noght als so moche as 'grant mercy'
Hir list to seie, of which I mihte
Som of mi grete peine allyhte.
Bot of this point, lo, thus I fare
As he that paith for his chaffare,
And beith it diere, and yit hath non,
So mot he nedes povere gon.
Thus beie I diere and have no love,
That I ne mai noght come above
To winne of love non encress.
Bot I me wole natheles
Touchende usure of love aquite;
And if mi ladi be to wyte,
I preie to god such grace hir sende
That sche be time it mot amende."
"Mi sone, of that thou hast ansuerd
Touchende Usure I have al herd,
Hou thou of love hast wonne smale.
Bot that thou tellest in thi tale
And thi ladi therof accusest,
Me thenkth tho wordes thou misusest.
For be thin oghne knowlechinge
Thou seist hou sche for o lokinge
Thin hole herte fro thee tok.
Sche mai be such, that hire o lok
Is worth thin herte manyfold;
So hast thou wel thin herte sold,
Whan thou hast that is more worth.
And ek of that thou tellest forth,
Hou that hire weyhte of love unevene
Is unto thin, under the hevene
Stod nevere in evene that balance
Which stant in loves governance.
Such is the statut of his lawe,
That thogh thi love more drawe
And peise in the balance more,
Thou miht noght axe agein therfore
Of dueté, bot al of grace.
For love is lord in every place,
Ther mai no lawe him justefie
Be reddour ne be compaignie,
That he ne wole after his wille
Whom that him liketh spede or spille.
To love a man mai wel beginne,
Bot whether he schal lese or winne,
That wot no man til ate laste.
Forthi coveite noght to faste,
Mi sone, bot abyd thin ende,
Per cas al mai to goode wende.
Bot that thou hast me told and said,
Of o thing I am riht wel paid,
That thou be sleyhte ne be guile
Of no brocour hast otherwhile
Engined love, for such dede
Is sore venged, as I rede.
[Tale of Echo]
Brocours of love that deceiven,
No wonder is thogh thei receiven
After the wrong that thei decerven;
For whom as evere that thei serven
And do plesance for a whyle,
Yit ate laste here oghne guile
Upon here oghne hed descendeth,
Which God of his vengance sendeth,
As be ensample of time go
A man mai finde it hath be so.
It fell somtime, as it was sene,
The hihe goddesse and the queene
Juno tho hadde in compainie
A maiden full of tricherie;
For sche was evere in on acord
With Jupiter, that was hire lord,
To gete him othre loves newe,
Thurgh such brocage and was untrewe
Al otherwise than him nedeth.
Bot sche, which of no schame dredeth,
With queinte wordes and with slyhe
Blente in such wise hir lady yhe,
As sche to whom that Juno triste,
So that therof sche nothing wiste.
Bot so privé mai be nothing,
That it ne comth to knowleching;
Thing don upon the derke nyht
Is after knowe on daies liht.
So it befell, that ate laste
Al that this slyhe maiden caste
Was overcast and overthrowe.
For as the sothe mot be knowe,
To Juno was don understonde
In what manere hir housebonde
With fals brocage hath take usure
Of love mor than his mesure,
Whan he tok othre than his wif,
Wherof this mayden was gultif,
Which hadde ben of his assent.
And thus was al the game schent:
Sche soffreth him, as sche mot nede,
Bot the brocour of his misdede,
Sche which hir conseil gaf therto,
On hire is the vengance do.
For Juno with hire wordes hote,
This maiden, which Eccho was hote,
Reproveth and seith in this wise:
'O traiteresse, of which servise
Hast thou thin oghne ladi served!
Thou hast gret peine wel deserved,
That thou canst maken it so queinte,
Thi slyhe wordes for to peinte
Towardes me, that am thi queene,
Wherof thou madest me to wene
That myn housbonde trewe were,
Whan that he loveth elleswhere,
Al be it so him nedeth noght.
Bot upon thee it schal be boght,
Which art privé to tho doinges,
And me fulofte of thi lesinges
Deceived hast. Nou is the day
That I thi while aquite may,
And for thou hast to me conceled
That my lord hath with othre deled,
I schal thee sette in such a kende,
That evere unto the worldes ende
Al that thou hierest thou schalt telle,
And clappe it out as doth a belle.'
And with that word sche was forschape.
Ther may no vois hire mouth ascape;
What man that in the wodes crieth,
Withoute faile Eccho replieth,
And what word that him list to sein,
The same word sche seith agein.
Thus sche, which whilom hadde leve
To duelle in chambre, mot beleve
In wodes and on helles bothe,
For such brocage as wyves lothe,
Which doth here lordes hertes change
And love in other place strange.
Forthi, if evere it so befalle,
That thou, mi sone, amonges alle
Be wedded man, hold that thou hast,
For thanne al other love is wast.
O wif schal wel to thee suffise;
And thanne, if thou for covoitise
Of love woldest axe more,
Thou scholdest don agein the lore
Of alle hem that trewe be."
"Mi fader, as in this degré
Mi conscience is noght accused,
For I no such brocage have used,
Wherof that lust of love is wonne.
Forthi spek forth, as ye begonne,
Of Avarice upon mi schrifte."
"Mi sone, I schal the branches schifte
Be ordre so as thei ben set,
On whom no good is wel beset."
"Blinde Avarice of his lignage
For conseil and for cousinage,
To be withholde agein largesse,
Hath on, whos name is seid Skarsnesse,
The which is kepere of his hous,
And is so thurghout averous,
That he no good let out of honde.
Thogh God Himself it wolde fonde,
Of gifte scholde He nothing have;
And if a man it wolde crave,
He moste thanne faile nede,
Wher God Himselve mai noght spede.
And thus Skarsnesse in every place
Be reson mai no thonk porchace,
And natheles in his degree
Above alle othre most privé
With Avarice stant he this.
For he governeth that ther is
In ech astat of his office
After the reule of thilke vice:
He takth, he kepth, he halt, he bint,
That lihtere is to fle the flint
Than gete of him in hard or neisshe
Only the value of a reysshe
Of good in helpinge of another,
Noght thogh it were his oghne brother.
For in the cas of gifte and lone
Stant every man for him alone,
Him thenkth of his unkindeschipe
That him nedeth no felaschipe.
Be so the bagge and he acorden,
Him reccheth noght what men recorden
Of him, or it be evel or good.
For al his trust is on his good,
So that alone he falleth ofte,
Whan he best weneth stonde alofte,
Als wel in love as other wise;
For love is evere of som reprise
To him that wole his love holde.
Forthi, mi sone, as thou art holde,
Touchende of this tell me thi schrifte:
Hast thou be scars or large of gifte
Unto thi love, whom thou servest?
For after that thou wel deservest
Of gifte, thou miht be the bet;
For that good holde I wel beset,
For why thou miht the betre fare.
Thanne is no wisdom for to spare,
For thus men sein, in every nede
He was wys that ferst made mede.
For whereas mede mai noght spede,
I not what helpeth other dede.
Fulofte he faileth of his game
That wol with ydel hand reclame
His hauk, as many a nyce doth.
Forthi, mi sone, tell me soth
And sei the trouthe, if thou hast be
Unto thi love or skars or fre."
"Mi fader, it hath stonde thus,
That if the tresor of Cresus
And al the gold Octovien,
Forth with the richesse Yndien
Of perles and of riche stones,
Were al togedre myn at ones,
I sette it at no more acompte
Than wolde a bare straw amonte,
To give it hire al in a day,
Be so that to that suete may
I myhte like or more or lesse.
And thus because of my scarsnesse
Ye mai wel understonde and lieve
That I schal noght the worse achieve
The pourpos which is in my thoght.
Bot yit I gaf hir nevere noght,
Ne therto dorste a profre make;
For wel I wot sche wol noght take,
And give wol sche noght also,
She is eschu of bothe tuo.
And this I trowe be the skile
Towardes me: for sche ne wile
That I have eny cause of hope,
Noght also mochel as a drope.
Bot toward othre, as I mai se,
Sche takth and gifth in such degré,
That as be weie of frendlihiede
Sche can so kepe hir wommanhiede,
That every man spekth of hir wel.
Bot sche wole take of me no del,
And yit sche wot wel that I wolde
Give and do bothe what I scholde
To plesen hire in al my myht.
Be reson this wot every wyht,
For that mai be no weie asterte:
Ther sche is maister of the herte,
Sche mot be maister of the good.
For God wot wel that al my mod
And al min herte and al mi thoght
And al mi good, whil I have oght,
Als freliche as God hath it give,
It schal ben hires, while I live,
Riht as hir list hirself commande.
So that it nedeth no demande,
To axe of me if I be scars
To love, for as to tho pars
I wole ansuere and seie no."
"Mi sone, that is riht wel do.
For oftentimes of scarsnesse
It hath be sen, that for the lesse
Is lost the more, as thou schalt hiere
A tale lich to this matiere.
[Tale of Babio and Croceus]
Skarsnesse and love acorden nevere,
For every thing is wel the levere
Whan that a man hath boght it diere:
And for to speke in this matiere,
For sparinge of a litel cost
Fulofte time a man hath lost
The large cote for the hod.
What man that scars is of his good
And wol noght give, he schal noght take:
With gifte a man mai undertake
The hihe God to plese and queme,
With gifte a man the world mai deme;
For every creature bore,
If thou him give, is glad therfore,
And every gladschipe, as I finde,
Is confort unto loves kinde
And causeth ofte a man to spede.
So was he wys that ferst gaf mede,
For mede kepeth love in house;
Bot wher the men ben coveitouse
And sparen for to give a part,
Thei knowe noght Cupides art.
For his fortune and his aprise
Desdeigneth alle coveitise
And hateth alle nygardie.
And for to loke of this partie,
A soth ensample, hou it is so,
I finde write of Babio;
Which hadde a love at his menage,
Ther was non fairere of hire age,
And hihte Viola be name;
Which full of youthe and ful of game
Was of hirself, and large and fre,
Bot such another chinche as he
Men wisten noght in al the lond,
And hadde affaited to his hond
His servant, the which Spodius
Was hote. And in this wise thus
The worldes good of sufficance
Was had, bot likinge and plesance,
Of that belongeth to richesse
Of love, stod in gret destresse;
So that this yonge lusty wyht
Of thing which fell to loves riht
Was evele served overal,
That sche was wobego withal,
Til that Cupide and Venus eke
A medicine for the seke
Ordeigne wolden in this cas.
So as fortune thanne was,
Of love upon the destiné
It fell, riht as it scholde be,
A freissh, a fre, a frendly man
That noght of Avarice can,
Which Croceus be name hihte,
Toward this swete caste his sihte,
And ther sche was cam in presence.
Sche sih him large of his despence,
And amorous and glad of chiere,
So that hir liketh wel to hiere
The goodly wordes whiche he seide;
And therupon of love he preide,
Of love was al that he mente,
To love and for sche scholde assente,
He gaf hire giftes evere among.
Bot for men sein that mede is strong,
It was wel seene at thilke tyde;
For as it scholde of ryht betyde,
This Viola largesce hath take
And the nygard sche hath forsake.
Of Babio sche wol no more,
For he was grucchende everemore;
Ther was with him non other fare
Bot for to prinche and for to spare,
Of worldes muk to gete encress.
So goth the wrecche loveles,
Bejaped for his skarceté,
And he that large was and fre
And sette his herte to despende,
This Croceus, the bowe bende,
Which Venus tok him for to holde,
And schotte als ofte as evere he wolde.
Lo, thus departeth love his lawe,
That what man wol noght be felawe
To give and spende, as I thee telle,
He is noght worthi for to duelle
In loves court to be relieved.
Forthi, my sone, if I be lieved,
Thou schalt be large of thi despence."
"Mi fader, in mi conscience
If ther be eny thing amis,
I wol amende it after this,
Toward mi love namely."
"Mi sone, wel and redely
Thou seist, so that wel paid withal
I am, and forthere if I schal
Unto thi schrifte specefie
Of Avarices progenie
What vice suieth after this,
Thou schalt have wonder hou it is,
Among the folk in eny regne
That such a vice myhte regne,
Which is comun at alle assaies,
As men mai finde nou adaies."
"The vice lik unto the fend,
Which nevere yit was mannes frend,
And cleped is Unkindeschipe,
Of covine and of felaschipe
With Avarice he is withholde.
Him thenkth he scholde noght ben holde
Unto the moder which him bar;
Of him mai nevere man be war,
He wol noght knowe the merite,
For that he wolde it noght aquite;
Which in this world is mochel used,
And fewe ben therof excused.
To telle of him is endeles,
Bot this I seie natheles,
Wher as this vice comth to londe,
Ther takth no man his thonk on honde;
Thogh he with alle his myhtes serve,
He schal of him no thonk deserve.
He takth what eny man wol give,
Bot whil he hath o day to live,
He wol nothing rewarde agein;
He gruccheth for to give o grein,
Wher he hath take a berne full.
That makth a kinde herte dull,
To sette his trust in such frendschipe,
Ther as he fint no kindeschipe;
And for to speke wordes pleine,
Thus hiere I many a man compleigne,
That nou on daies thou schalt finde
At nede fewe frendes kinde;
What thou hast don for hem tofore,
It is forgete, as it were lore.
The bokes speken of this vice,
And telle hou God of His justice,
Be weie of kinde and ek nature
And every lifissh creature,
The lawe also, who that it kan,
Thei dampnen an unkinde man.
It is al on to seie unkinde
As thing which don is agein kinde,
For it with kinde nevere stod
A man to yelden evel for good.
For who that wolde taken hede,
A beste is glad of a good dede,
And loveth thilke creature
After the lawe of his nature
Which doth him ese. And for to se
Of this matiere Auctorité,
Fulofte time it hath befalle;
Wherof a tale amonges alle,
Which is of olde ensamplerie,
I thenke for to specefie.
[Tale of Adrian and Bardus]
To speke of an unkinde man,
I finde hou whilom Adrian,
Of Rome which a gret lord was,
Upon a day as he per cas
To wode in his huntinge wente,
It hapneth at a soudein wente,
After his chace as he poursuieth,
Thurgh happ, the which no man eschuieth,
He fell unwar into a pet,
Wher that it mihte noght be let.
The pet was dep and he fell lowe,
That of his men non myhte knowe
Wher he becam, for non was nyh
Which of his fall the meschief syh.
And thus alone ther he lay
Clepende and criende al the day
For socour and deliverance,
Til agein eve it fell per chance,
A while er it began to nyhte,
A povere man, which Bardus hihte,
Cam forth walkende with his asse,
And hadde gadred him a tasse
Of grene stickes and of dreie
To selle, who that wolde hem beie,
As he which hadde no liflode,
Bot whanne he myhte such a lode
To toune with his asse carie.
And as it fell him for to tarie
That ilke time nyh the pet,
And hath the trusse faste knet,
He herde a vois, which cride dimme,
And he his ere to the brimme
Hath leid, and herde it was a man,
Which seide, 'Ha, help hier Adrian,
And I wol given half mi good.'
The povere man this understod,
As he that wolde gladly winne,
And to this lord which was withinne
He spak and seide, 'If I thee save,
What sikernesse schal I have
Of covenant, that afterward
Thou wolt me give such reward
As thou behihtest nou tofore?'
That other hath his othes swore
Be hevene and be the goddes alle,
If that it myhte so befalle
That he out of the pet him broghte,
Of all the goodes whiche he oghte
He schal have evene halvendel.
This Bardus seide he wolde wel;
And with this word his asse anon
He let untrusse, and therupon
Doun goth the corde into the pet,
To which he hath at the ende knet
A staf, wherby, he seide, he wolde
That Adrian him scholde holde.
Bot it was tho per chance falle,
Into that pet was also falle,
An ape, which at thilke throwe,
Whan that the corde cam doun lowe,
Al sodeinli therto he skipte
And it in bothe hise armes clipte.
And Bardus with his asse anon
Him hath updrawe, and he is gon.
Bot whan he sih it was an ape,
He wende al hadde ben a jape
Of faierie, and sore him dradde:
And Adrian eftsone gradde
For help, and cride and preide faste,
And he eftsone his corde caste;
Bot whan it cam unto the grounde,
A gret serpent it hath bewounde,
The which Bardus anon up drouh.
And thanne him thoghte wel ynouh
It was fantosme, bot yit he herde
The vois, and he therto ansuerde,
'What wiht art thou in Goddes name?'
'I am,' quod Adrian, 'the same,
Whos good thou schalt have evene half.'
Quod Bardus, 'Thanne a Goddes half
The thridde time assaie I schal,'
And caste his corde forth withal
Into the pet, and whan it cam
To him, this lord of Rome it nam,
And therupon him hath adresced,
And with his hand fulofte blessed,
And thanne he bad to Bardus hale.
And he, which understod his tale,
Betwen him and his asse al softe
Hath drawe and set him up alofte
Withouten harm al esely.
He seith noght ones 'grant merci,'
Bot strauhte him forth to the cité,
And let this povere Bardus be.
And natheles this simple man
His covenant, so as he can,
Hath axed; and that other seide,
If so be that he him umbreide
Of oght that hath be speke or do,
It schal ben venged on him so,
That him were betre to be ded.
And he can tho non other red,
Bot on his asse agein he caste
His trusse, and hieth homward faste.
And whan that he cam hom to bedde,
He tolde his wif hou that he spedde.
Bot finaly to speke oght more
Unto this lord he dradde him sore,
So that a word ne dorste he sein.
And thus upon the morwe agein,
In the manere as I recorde,
Forth with his asse and with his corde
To gadre wode, as he dede er,
He goth; and whan that he cam ner
Unto the place where he wolde,
He hath his ape anon beholde,
Which hadde gadred al aboute
Of stickes hiere and there a route,
And leide hem redy to his hond,
Wherof he made his trasse and bond;
Fro dai to dai and in this wise
This ape profreth his servise,
So that he hadde of wode ynouh.
Upon a time and as he drouh
Toward the wode, he sih besyde
The grete gastli serpent glyde,
Til that sche cam in his presence,
And in hir kinde a reverence
Sche hath him do, and forth withal
A ston mor briht than a cristall
Out of hir mouth tofore his weie
Sche let doun falle, and wente aweie,
For that he schal noght ben adrad.
Tho was this povere Bardus glad,
Thonkende God, and to the ston
He goth and takth it up anon,
And hath gret wonder in his wit
Hou that the beste him hath aquit,
Wher that the mannes sone hath failed,
For whom he hadde most travailed.
Bot al he putte in Goddes hond,
And torneth hom, and what he fond
Unto his wif he hath it schewed;
And thei, that weren bothe lewed,
Acorden that he scholde it selle.
And he no lengere wolde duelle,
Bot forth anon upon the tale
The ston he profreth to the sale;
And riht as he himself it sette,
The jueler anon forth fette
The gold and made his paiement.
Therof was no delaiement!
Thus whan this ston was boght and sold,
Homward with joie manyfold
This Bardus goth; and whan he cam
Hom to his hous and that he nam
His gold out of his purs, withinne
He fond his ston also therinne,
Wherof for joie his herte pleide,
Unto his wif and thus he seide,
'Lo, hier my gold, lo, hier mi ston!'
His wif hath wonder therupon,
And axeth him hou that mai be.
'Nou be mi trouthe I not,' quod he,
'Bot I dar swere upon a bok,
That to my marchant I it tok,
And he it hadde whan I wente:
So knowe I noght to what entente
It is nou hier, bot it be grace.
Forthi tomorwe in other place
I wole it fonde for to selle,
And if it wol noght with him duelle,
Bot crepe into mi purs agein,
Than dar I saufly swere and sein,
It is the vertu of the ston.'
The morwe cam, and he is gon
To seche aboute in other stede
His ston to selle, and he so dede,
And lefte it with his chapman there.
Bot whan that he cam elleswhere,
In presence of his wif at hom,
Out of his purs and that he nom
His gold, he fond his ston withal.
And thus it fell him overal,
Where he it solde in sondri place,
Such was the fortune and the grace.
Bot so wel may nothing ben hidd,
That it nys ate laste kidd:
This fame goth aboute Rome
So ferforth, that the wordes come
To th'emperour Justinian,
And he let sende for the man,
And axede him hou that it was.
And Bardus tolde him al the cas,
Hou that the worm and eke the beste,
Althogh thei maden no beheste,
His travail hadden wel aquit.
Bot he which hadde a mannes wit,
And made his covenant be mouthe
And swor therto al that he couthe
To parte and given half his good,
Hath nou forgete hou that it stod,
As he which wol no trouthe holde.
This emperour al that he tolde
Hath herd, and thilke unkindenesse
He seide he wolde himself redresse.
And thus in court of juggement
This Adrian was thanne assent,
And the querele in audience
Declared was in the presence
Of th'emperour and many mo;
Wherof was mochel speche tho
And gret wondringe among the press.
Bot ate laste natheles
For the partie which hath pleigned
The lawe hath diemed and ordeigned
Be hem that were avised wel,
That he schal have the halvendel
Thurghout of Adrianes good.
And thus of thilke unkinde blod
Stant the memoire into this day,
Wherof that every wysman may
Ensamplen him, and take in mynde
What schame it is to ben unkinde;
Agein the which reson debateth,
And every creature it hateth.
Forthi, mi sone, in thin office
I rede fle that ilke vice.
For riht as the cronique seith
Of Adrian, hou he his feith
Forgat for worldes covoitise,
Fulofte in such a maner wise
Of lovers nou a man mai se
Full manye that unkinde be.
For wel behote and evele laste,
That is here lif; for ate laste,
Whan that thei have here wille do,
Here love is after sone ago.
What seist thou, sone, to this cas?"
"Mi fader, I wol seie 'Helas
That evere such a man was bore,'
Which whan he hath his trouthe suore
And hath of love what he wolde,
That he at eny time scholde
Evere after in his herte finde
To falsen and to ben unkinde.
Bot, fader, as touchende of me,
I mai noght stonde in that degré;
For I tok nevere of love why
That I ne mai wel go therby
And do my profit elles where,
For eny sped I finde there.
I dar wel thenken al aboute,
Bot I ne dar noght speke it oute;
And if I dorste, I wolde pleigne
That sche for whom I soffre peine
And love hir evere aliche hote,
That nouther give ne behote
In rewardinge of mi servise
It list hire in no maner wise.
I wol noght say that sche is kinde,
And for to sai sche is unkinde,
That dar I noght; bot God above,
Which demeth every herte of love,
He wot that on myn oghne side
Schal non unkindeschipe abide.
If it schal with mi ladi duelle,
Therof dar I no more telle.
Nou, goode fader, as it is,
Tell me what thenketh you of this?"
"Mi sone, of that unkindeschipe,
The which toward thi ladischipe
Thou pleignest, for sche wol thee noght,
Thou art to blamen of that thoght.
For it mai be that thi desir,
Thogh it brenne evere as doth the fyr,
Per cas to hire honour missit,
Or elles time com noght yit,
Which standt upon thi destiné.
Forthi, mi sone, I rede thee,
Thenk wel, what evere thee befalle;
For no man hath his lustes alle.
Bot as thou toldest me before
That thou to love art noght forswore,
And hast don non unkindenesse,
Thou miht therof thi grace blesse.
And lef noght that continuance;
For ther mai be no such grevance
To love, as is unkindeschipe.
Wherof to kepe thi worschipe,
So as these olde bokes tale,
I schal thee telle a redi tale:
Nou herkne and be wel war therby,
For I wol telle it openly.
[Tale of Theseus and Ariadne]
Mynos, as telleth the poete,
The which whilom was king of Crete,
A sone hadde and Androchee
He hihte. And so befell that he
Unto Athenes for to lere
Was send, and so he bare him there,
For that he was of hih lignage,
Such pride he tok in his corage,
That he forgeten hath the scoles,
And in riote among the foles
He dede manye thinges wronge;
And useth thilke lif so longe,
Til ate laste of that he wroghte
He fond the meschief which he soghte,
Wherof it fell that he was slain.
His fader, which it herde sain,
Was wroth, and al that evere he mihte,
Of men of armes he him dighte
A strong pouer, and forth he wente
Unto Athenys, where he brente
The pleine contré al aboute.
The cites stode of him in doute,
As thei that no defence hadde
Agein the pouer which he ladde.
Egeus, which was there king,
His conseil tok upon this thing,
For he was thanne in the cité,
So that of pes into tretee
Betwen Mynos and Egeus
Thei felle, and ben acorded thus;
That king Mynos fro yer to yeere
Receive schal, as thou schalt here,
Out of Athenys for truage
Of men that were of myhti age
Persones nyne, of whiche he schal
His wille don in special
For vengance of his sones deth.
Non other grace ther ne geth,
Bot for to take the juise;
And that was don in such a wise,
Which stod upon a wonder cas.
For thilke time so it was,
Wherof that men yit rede and singe,
King Mynos hadde in his kepinge
A cruel monstre, as seith the geste:
For he was half man and half beste,
And Minotaurus he was hote,
Which was begete in a riote
Upon Pasiphe, his oghne wif,
Whil he was oute upon the strif
Of thilke grete siege at Troie.
Bot sche, which lost hath alle joie,
Whan that sche syh this monstre bore,
Bad men ordeigne anon therfore.
And fell that ilke time thus,
Ther was a clerk, on Dedalus,
Which hadde ben of hire assent
Of that hir world was so miswent;
And he made of his oghne wit,
Wherof the remembrance is yit,
For Minotaure such an hous
Which was so strange and merveilous,
That what man that withinne wente,
Ther was so many a sondri wente,
That he ne scholde noght come oute,
Bot gon amased al aboute.
And in this hous to loke and warde
Was Minotaurus put in warde,
That what lif that therinne cam,
Or man or beste, he overcam
And slow and fedde him therupon.
And in this wise manye on
Out of Athenys for truage
Devoured weren in that rage.
For every yeer thei schope hem so,
Thei of Athenys, er thei go
Toward that ilke wofull chance,
As it was set in ordinance,
Upon fortune here lot thei caste;
Til that Theseus ate laste,
Which was the kinges sone there,
Amonges othre that ther were
In thilke yeer, as it befell,
The lot upon his chance fell.
He was a worthi kniht withalle;
And whan he sih this chance falle,
He ferde as thogh he tok non hiede,
Bot al that evere he mihte spiede
With him and with his felaschipe.
Forth into Crete he goth be schipe,
Wher that the king Mynos he soghte,
And profreth all that he him oghte
Upon the point of here acord.
This sterne king, this cruel lord,
Tok every day on of the nyne
And put him to the discipline
Of Minotaure, to be devoured.
Bot Theseus was so favoured,
That he was kept til ate laste.
And in the meene while he caste
What thing him were best to do.
And fell that Adriagne tho,
Which was the dowhter of Mynos,
And hadde herd the worthi los
Of Theseus and of his myht
And syh he was a lusti kniht,
Hire hole herte on him sche leide,
And he also of love hir preide,
So ferforth that thei were al on.
And sche ordeigneth thanne anon
In what manere he scholde him save,
And schop so that sche dede him have
A clue of thred, of which withinne
Ferst ate dore he schal beginne
With him to take that on ende,
That whan he wolde ageinward wende,
He mihte go the same weie.
And over this, so as I seie,
Of pich sche toke him a pelote,
The which he scholde into the throte
Of Minotaure caste rihte.
Such wepne also for him sche dighte,
That he be reson mai noght faile
To make an ende of his bataile.
For sche him tawhte in sondri wise,
Til he was knowe of thilke emprise,
Hou he this beste schulde quelle.
And thus, schort tale for to telle,
So as this maide him hadde tawht,
Theseus with this monstre fawht,
Smot of his hed, the which he nam,
And be the thred, so as he cam,
He goth agein, til he were oute.
Tho was gret wondre al aboute.
Mynos the tribut hath relessed,
And so was al the werre cessed
Betwen Athene and hem of Crete.
Bot now to speke of thilke suete,
Whos beauté was withoute wane,
This faire maiden Adriane,
Whan that sche sih Theseus sound,
Was nevere yit upon the ground
A gladder wyht than sche was tho.
Theseus duelte a dai or tuo
Wher that Mynos gret chiere him dede.
Theseus in a privé stede
Hath with this maiden spoke and rouned,
That sche to him was abandouned
In al that evere that sche couthe,
So that of thilke lusty youthe
Al prively betwen hem tweie
The ferste flour he tok aweie.
For he so faire tho behihte
That evere, whil he live mihte,
He scholde hire take for his wif,
And as his oghne hertes lif
He scholde hire love and trouthe bere;
And sche, which mihte noght forbere,
So sore loveth him agein,
That what as evere he wolde sein
With al hire herte sche believeth.
And thus his pourpos he achieveth,
So that assured of his trouthe
With him sche wente, and that was routhe.
Fedra hire yonger soster eke,
A lusti maide, a sobre, a meke,
Fulfild of alle curtesie,
For sosterhode and compainie
Of love, which was hem betuene,
To sen hire soster mad a queene
Hire fader lefte and forth sche wente
With him, which al his ferste entente
Forgat withinne a litel throwe,
So that it was al overthrowe,
Whan sche best wende it scholde stonde.
The schip was blowe fro the londe,
Wherin that thei seilende were;
This Adriagne hath mochel fere
Of that the wynd so loude bleu,
As sche which of the see ne kneu,
And preide for to reste a whyle.
And so fell that upon an yle,
Which Chyo hihte, thei ben drive,
Where he to hire his leve hath give
That sche schal londe and take hire reste.
Bot that was nothing for the beste,
For whan sche was to londe broght,
Sche, which that time thoghte noght
Bot alle trouthe, and tok no kepe,
Hath leid hire softe for to slepe,
As sche which longe hath ben forwacched;
Bot certes sche was evele macched
And fer from alle loves kinde.
For more than the beste unkinde
Theseus, which no trouthe kepte,
Whil that this yonge ladi slepte,
Fulfild of his unkindeschipe
Hath al forgete the goodschipe
Which Adriane him hadde do,
And bad unto the schipmen tho
Hale up the seil and noght abyde,
And forth he goth the same tyde
Toward Athene, and hire alonde
He lefte, which lay nyh the stronde
Slepende, til that sche awok.
Bot whan that sche cast up hire lok
Toward the stronde and sih no wyht,
Hire herte was so sore aflyht,
That sche ne wiste what to thinke,
Bot drouh hire to the water brinke,
Wher sche behield the see at large.
Sche sih no schip, sche sih no barge
Als ferforth as sche mihte kenne.
'Ha lord,' sche seide, 'which a senne,
As al the world schal after hiere,
Upon this woful womman hiere
This worthi kniht hath don and wroght!
I wende I hadde his love boght,
And so deserved ate nede,
Whan that he stod upon his drede,
And ek the love he me behihte.
It is gret wonder hou he mihte
Towardes me nou ben unkinde,
And so to lete out of his mynde
Thing which he seide his oghne mouth.
Bot after this whan it is couth
And drawe into the worldes fame,
It schal ben hindringe of his name:
For wel he wot and so wot I,
He gaf his trouthe bodily,
That he myn honour scholde kepe.'
And with that word sche gan to wepe,
And sorweth more than ynouh:
Hire faire tresces sche todrouh,
And with hirself tok such a strif
That sche betwen the deth and lif
Swounende lay fulofte among.
And al was this on him along,
Which was to love unkinde so,
Wherof the wrong schal everemo
Stonde in cronique of remembrance.
And ek it asketh a vengance
To ben unkinde in loves cas,
So as Theseus thanne was,
Althogh he were a noble kniht.
For he the lawe of loves riht
Forfeted hath in alle weie,
That Adriagne he putte aweie,
Which was a gret unkinde dede.
And after this, so as I rede,
Fedra, the which hir soster is,
He tok in stede of hire, and this
Fel afterward to mochel teene.
For thilke vice of which I meene,
Unkindeschipe, where it falleth,
The trouthe of mannes herte it palleth,
That he can no good dede aquite.
So mai he stonde of no merite
Towardes God, and ek also
Men clepen him the worldes fo;
For he no more than the fend
Unto non other man is frend,
Bot al toward himself alone.
Forthi, mi sone, in thi persone
This vice above alle othre fle."
"Mi fader, as ye techen me,
I thenke don in this matiere.
Bot over this nou wolde I hiere,
Wherof I schal me schryve more."
"Mi goode sone, and for thi lore,
After the reule of coveitise
I schal the propreté devise
Of every vice by and by.
Nou herkne and be wel war therby."
"In the lignage of Avarice,
Mi sone, yit ther is a vice,
His rihte name it is Ravine,
Which hath a route of his covine.
Ravine among the maistres duelleth,
And with his servantz, as men telleth,
Extorcion is nou withholde.
Ravine of othre mennes folde
Makth his larder and paieth noght.
For wher as evere it mai be soght,
In his hous ther schal nothing lacke,
And that fulofte abyth the packe
Of povere men that duelle aboute.
Thus stant the comun poeple in doute,
Which can do non amendement;
For whanne him faileth paiement,
Ravine makth non other skile,
Bot takth be strengthe what he wile.
So ben ther in the same wise
Lovers, as I thee schal devise,
That whan noght elles mai availe,
Anon with strengthe thei assaile
And gete of love the sesine,
Whan thei se time, be Ravine.
Forthi, mi sone, schrif thee hier,
If thou hast ben a Raviner."
"Of love? Certes, fader, no!
For I mi ladi love so,
That thogh I were as was Pompeie,
That al the world me wolde obeie,
Or elles such as Alisandre,
I wolde noght do such a sklaundre.
It is no good man which so doth."
"In good feith, sone, thou seist soth:
For he that wole of pourveance
Be such a weie his lust avance,
He schal it after sore abie,
Bot if these olde ensamples lie."
"Nou, goode fader, tell me on,
So as ye cunne manyon,
Touchende of love in this matiere."
"Nou list, mi sone, and thou schalt hiere,
So as it hath befalle er this,
In loves cause hou that it is
A man to take be Ravine
The preie which is femeline.
[Tale of Tereus, Procne, and Philomena]
Ther was a real noble king,
And riche of alle worldee thing,
Which of his propre enheritance
Athenes hadde in governance,
And who so thenke therupon,
His name was King Pandion.
Tuo douhtres hadde he be his wif,
The whiche he lovede as his lif.
The ferste douhter Progné hihte,
And the secounde, as sche wel mihte,
Was cleped faire Philomene,
To whom fell after mochel tene.
The fader of his pourveance
His doughter Progné wolde avance,
And gaf hire unto mariage
A worthi king of hih lignage,
A noble kniht eke of his hond,
So was he kid in every lond,
Of Trace he hihte Tereus;
The clerk Ovide telleth thus.
This Tereus his wif hom ladde;
A lusti lif with hire he hadde,
Til it befell upon a tyde,
This Progné, as sche lay him besyde,
Bethoughte hir hou it mihte be
That sche hir soster myhte se,
And to hir lord hir will sche seide
With goodly wordes, and him preide
That sche to hire mihte go,
And if it liked him noght so,
That thanne he wolde himselve wende,
Or elles be som other sende,
Which mihte hire diere soster griete,
And schape hou that thei mihten miete.
Hir lord anon to that he herde
Gaf his acord, and thus ansuerde:
'I wole,' he seide, 'for thi sake
The weie after thi soster take
Miself, and bringe hire, if I may.'
And sche with that, there as he lay,
Began him in hire armes clippe
And kist him with hir softe lippe,
And seide, 'Sire, grant mercy.'
And he sone after was redy,
And tok his leve for to go;
In sori time dede he so.
This Tereus goth forth to schipe
With him and with his felaschipe.
Be see the rihte cours he nam,
Into the contré til he cam
Wher Philomene was duellinge,
And of hir soster the tidinge
He tolde, and tho thei weren glade,
And mochel joie of him thei made.
The fader and the moder bothe
To leve here douhter weren lothe,
Bot if thei weren in presence.
And natheles at reverence
Of him, that wolde himself travaile,
Thei wolden noght he scholde faile
Of that he preide, and give hire leve.
And sche, that wolde noght beleve,
In alle haste made hire yare
Toward hir soster for to fare
With Tereus, and forth sche wente.
And he, with al his hole entente
Whan sche was fro hir frendes go
Assoteth of hire love so,
His yhe myhte he noght withholde,
That he ne moste on hir beholde.
And with the sihte he gan desire
And sette his oghne herte on fyre.
And fyr, whan it to tow aprocheth,
To him anon the strengthe acrocheth,
Til with his hete it be devoured;
The tow ne mai noght be socoured.
And so that tirant raviner,
Whan that sche was in his pouer
And he therto sawh time and place,
As he that lost hath alle grace
Forgat he was a wedded man,
And in a rage on hire he ran,
Riht as a wolf which takth his preie.
And sche began to crie and preie,
'O fader, o mi moder diere,
Nou help!' Bot thei ne mihte it hiere,
And sche was of to litel myht
Defense agein so ruide a knyht
To make, whanne he was so wod
That he no reson understod,
Bot hield hire under in such wise
That sche ne myhte noght arise,
Bot lay oppressed and desesed
As if a goshauk hadde sesed
A brid, which dorste noght for fere
Remue: and thus this tirant there
Beraft hire such thing as men sein
Mai neveremor be yolde agein,
And that was the virginité:
Of such Ravine it was pité.
Bot whan sche to hirselven com,
And of hir meschief hiede nom,
And knew hou that sche was no maide,
With wofull herte thus sche saide:
'O thou of alle men the worste,
Wher was ther evere man that dorste
Do such a dede as thou hast do?
That dai schal falle, I hope so,
That I schal telle out al mi fille,
And with mi speche I schal fulfille
The wyde world in brede and lengthe.
That thou hast do to me be strengthe,
If I among the poeple duelle,
Unto the poeple I schal it telle;
And if I be withinne wall
Of stones closed, thanne I schal
Unto the stones clepe and crie,
And tellen hem thi felonie;
And if I to the wodes wende,
Ther schal I tellen tale and ende,
And crie it to the briddes oute,
That thei schul hiere it al aboute.
For I so loude it schal reherce,
That my vois schal the hevene perce,
That it schal soune in Goddes ere.
Ha, false man, where is thi fere?
O mor cruel than eny beste,
Hou hast thou holden thi beheste
Which thou unto my soster madest?
O thou, which alle love ungladest,
And art ensample of alle untrewe,
Nou wolde God mi soster knewe,
Of thin untrouthe, hou that it stod!'
And he thanne as a lyon wod
With hise unhappi handes stronge
Hire cauhte be the tresses longe,
With whiche he bond ther bothe hire armes -
That was a fieble dede of armes -
And to the grounde anon hire caste,
And out he clippeth also faste
Hire tunge with a peire scheres.
So what with blod and what with teres
Out of hire yhe and of hir mouth,
He made hire faire face uncouth.
Sche lay swounende unto the deth,
Ther was unethes eny breth.
Bot yit whan he hire tunge refte,
A litel part therof belefte,
Bot sche with al no word mai soune,
Bot chitre and as a brid jargoune.
And natheles that wode hound
Hir bodi hent up fro the ground,
And sente hir there as be his wille
Sche scholde abyde in prison stille
Foreveremo. Bot nou tak hiede
What after fell of this misdede.
Whanne al this meschief was befalle,
This Tereus - that foule him falle! -
Unto his contré hom he tyh;
And whan he com his paleis nyh,
His wif al redi there him kepte.
Whan he hir sih, anon he wepte,
And that he dede for deceite.
For sche began to axe him streite,
'Wher is mi soster?' And he seide
That sche was ded; and Progné abreide,
As sche that was a wofull wif,
And stod betuen hire deth and lif,
Of that sche herde such tidinge.
Bot for sche sih hire lord wepinge,
Sche wende noght bot alle trouthe,
And hadde wel the more routhe.
The perles weren tho forsake
To hire, and blake clothes take;
As sche that was gentil and kinde,
In worschipe of hir sostres mynde
Sche made a riche enterement,
For sche fond non amendement
To syghen or to sobbe more:
So was ther guile under the gore.
Nou leve we this king and queene,
And torne agein to Philomene,
As I began to tellen erst.
Whan sche cam into prison ferst,
It thoghte a kinges douhter strange
To maken so soudein a change
Fro welthe unto so grete a wo;
And sche began to thenke tho,
Thogh sche be mouthe nothing preide,
Withinne hir herte thus sche seide:
'O thou, almyhty Jupiter,
That hihe sist and lokest fer,
Thou soffrest many a wrong doinge,
And yit it is noght thi willinge.
To thee ther mai nothing ben hid,
Thou wost hou it is me betid.
I wolde I hadde noght be bore,
For thanne I hadde noght forlore
Mi speche and mi virginité.
Bot, goode lord, al is in thee,
Whan thou therof wolt do vengance
And schape mi deliverance.'
And evere among this ladi wepte,
And thoghte that sche nevere kepte
To ben a worldes womman more,
And that sche wissheth everemore.
Bot ofte unto hir soster diere
Hire herte spekth in this manere,
And seide, 'Ha, soster, if ye knewe
Of myn astat, ye wolde rewe,
I trowe, and my deliverance
Ye wolde schape, and do vengance
On him that is so fals a man.
And natheles, so as I can,
I wol you sende som tokninge,
Wherof ye schul have knowlechinge
Of thing I wot, that schal you lothe,
The which you toucheth and me bothe.'
And tho withinne a whyle als tyt
Sche waf a cloth of selk al whyt
With lettres and ymagerie,
In which was al the felonie
Which Tereus to hire hath do;
And lappede it togedre tho
And sette hir signet therupon
And sende it unto Progné anon.
The messager which forth it bar,
What it amonteth is noght war;
And natheles to Progné he goth
And prively takth hire the cloth,
And wente agein riht as he cam.
The court of him non hiede nam.
Whan Progné of Philomene herde,
Sche wolde knowe hou that it ferde,
And opneth that the man hath broght,
And wot therby what hath be wroght
And what meschief ther is befalle.
In swoune tho sche gan doun falle,
And efte aros and gan to stonde,
And eft sche takth the cloth on honde,
Behield the lettres and th'ymages.
Bot ate laste, 'Of suche oultrages,'
Sche seith, 'wepinge is noght the bote,'
And swerth, if that sche live mote,
It schal be venged otherwise.
And with that sche gan hire avise
Hou ferst sche mihte unto hire winne
Hir soster, that no man withinne,
Bot only thei that were suore,
It scholde knowe, and schop therfore
That Tereus nothing it wiste;
And yit riht as hirselven liste,
Hir soster was delivered sone
Out of prison, and be the mone
To Progné sche was broght be nyhte.
Whan ech of other hadde a sihte,
In chambre, ther thei were alone,
Thei maden many a pitous mone;
Bot Progné most of sorwe made,
Which sihe hir soster pale and fade
And specheles and deshonoured,
Of that sche hadde be defloured;
And ek upon hir lord sche thoghte,
Of that he so untreuly wroghte
And hadde his espousaile broke.
Sche makth a vou it schal be wroke,
And with that word sche kneleth doun
Wepinge in gret devocioun.
Unto Cupide and to Venus
Sche preide and seide thanne thus:
'O ye, to whom nothing asterte
Of love mai, for every herte
Ye knowe, as ye that ben above
The god and the goddesse of love:
Ye witen wel that evere yit
With al mi will and al my wit,
Sith ferst ye schopen me to wedde,
That I lay with mi lord abedde,
I have be trewe in mi degré,
And evere thoghte for to be,
And nevere love in other place,
Bot al only the king of Trace,
Which is mi lord and I his wif.
Bot nou allas this wofull strif!
That I him thus ageinward finde
The most untrewe and most unkinde
That evere in ladi armes lay.
And wel I wot that he ne may
Amende his wrong, it is so gret;
For he to lytel of me let,
Whan he myn oughne soster tok,
And me that am his wif forsok.'
Lo, thus to Venus and Cupide
Sche preide, and furthermor sche cride
Unto Appollo the hiheste,
And seide, 'O myhti god of reste,
Thou do vengance of this debat.
Mi soster and al hire astat
Thou wost, and hou sche hath forlore
Hir maidenhod, and I therfore
In al the world schal bere a blame
Of that mi soster hath a schame,
That Tereus to hire I sente.
And wel thou wost that myn entente
Was al for worschipe and for goode.
O lord, that gifst the lives fode
To every wyht, I prei thee hiere
Thes wofull sostres that ben hiere,
And let ous noght to thee ben lothe;
We ben thin oghne wommen bothe.'
Thus pleigneth Progné and axeth wreche,
As, thogh hire soster lacke speche,
To him that alle thinges wot
Hire sorwe is noght the lasse hot.
Bot he that thanne had herd hem tuo,
Him oughte have sorwed everemo
For sorwe which was hem betuene.
With signes pleigneth Philomene,
And Progné seith, 'It schal be wreke,
That al the world therof schal speke.'
And Progné tho seknesse feigneth,
Wherof unto hir lord sche pleigneth,
And preith sche moste hire chambres kepe,
And as hir liketh wake and slepe.
And he hire granteth to be so;
And thus togedre ben thei tuo,
That wolde him bot a litel good.
Nou herk hierafter hou it stod
Of wofull auntres that befelle:
Thes sostres, that ben bothe felle
(And that was noght on hem along,
Bot onliche on the grete wrong
Which Tereus hem hadde do),
Thei schopen for to venge hem tho.
This Tereus be Progné his wif
A sone hath, which as his lif
He loveth, and Ithis he hihte:
His moder wiste wel sche mihte
Do Tereus no more grief
Than sle this child, which was so lief.
Thus sche, that was, as who seith, mad
Of wo, which hath hir overlad,
Withoute insihte of moderhede
Forgat pité and loste drede,
And in hir chambre prively
This child withouten noise or cry
Sche slou, and hieu him al to pieces.
And after with diverse spieces
The fleissh, whan it was so toheewe,
Sche takth, and makth therof a sewe,
With which the fader at his mete
Was served, til he hadde him ete;
That he ne wiste hou that it stod,
Bot thus his oughne fleissh and blod
Himself devoureth agein kinde,
As he that was tofore unkinde.
And thanne, er that he were arise,
For that he scholde ben agrise,
To schewen him the child was ded,
This Philomene tok the hed
Betwen tuo disshes, and al wrothe
Tho comen forth the sostres bothe,
And setten it upon the bord.
And Progné tho began the word,
And seide, 'O werste of alle wicke,
Of conscience whom no pricke
Mai stere, lo, what thou hast do!
Lo, hier be nou we sostres tuo;
O raviner, lo hier thi preie,
With whom so falsliche on the weie
Thou hast thi tirannye wroght.
Lo, nou it is somdel aboght,
And bet it schal, for of thi dede
The world schal evere singe and rede
In remembrance of thi defame.
For thou to love hast do such schame,
That it schal nevere be forgete.'
With that he sterte up fro the mete,
And schof the bord unto the flor,
And cauhte a swerd anon and suor
That thei scholde of his hondes dye
And thei unto the goddes crie
Begunne with so loude a stevene,
That thei were herd unto the hevene;
And in a twinclinge of an yhe
The goddes, that the meschief syhe,
Here formes changen alle thre.
Ech on of hem in his degré
Was torned into briddes kinde;
Diverseliche, as men mai finde,
After th'astat that thei were inne,
Here formes were set atwinne.
And as it telleth in the tale,
The ferst into a nyhtingale
Was schape, and that was Philomene,
Which in the wynter is noght sene,
For thanne ben the leves falle
And naked ben the buisshes alle.
For after that sche was a brid,
Hir will was evere to ben hid,
And for to duelle in privé place,
That no man scholde sen hir face
For schame, which mai noght be lassed,
Of thing that was tofore passed,
Whan that sche loste hir maidenhiede.
Forevere upon hir wommanhiede,
Thogh that the goddes wolde hire change,
Sche thenkth, and is the more strange,
And halt hir clos the wyntres day.
Bot whan the wynter goth away,
And that Nature the goddesse
Wole of hir oughne fre largesse
With herbes and with floures bothe
The feldes and the medwes clothe,
And ek the wodes and the greves
Ben heled al with grene leves,
So that a brid hire hyde mai,
Betwen Averil and March and Maii,
Sche that the wynter hield hir clos,
For pure schame and noght aros,
Whan that sche seth the bowes thikke,
And that ther is no bare sticke,
Bot al is hid with leves grene,
To wode comth this Philomene
And makth hir ferste yeres flyht;
Wher as sche singeth day and nyht,
And in hir song al openly
Sche makth hir pleignte and seith, 'O why,
O why ne were I yit a maide?'
For so these olde wise saide,
Which understoden what sche mente,
Hire notes ben of such entente.
And ek thei seide hou in hir song
Sche makth gret joie and merthe among,
And seith, 'Ha, nou I am a brid,
Ha, nou mi face mai ben hid.
Thogh I have lost mi maidenhede,
Schal no man se my chekes rede.'
Thus medleth sche with joie wo
And with hir sorwe merthe also,
So that of loves maladie
Sche makth diverse melodie,
And seith love is a wofull blisse,
A wisdom which can no man wisse,
A lusti fievere, a wounde softe:
This note sche reherceth ofte
To hem whiche understonde hir tale.
Nou have I of this nyhtingale,
Which erst was cleped Philomene,
Told al that evere I wolde mene,
Bothe of hir forme and of hir note,
Wherof men mai the storie note.
And of hir soster Progné I finde,
Hou sche was torned out of kinde
Into a swalwe swift of winge,
Which ek in wynter lith swounynge,
Ther as sche mai nothing be sene.
Bot whan the world is woxe grene
And comen is the somertide,
Than fleth sche forth and ginth to chide,
And chitreth out in hir langage
What falshod is in mariage,
And telleth in a maner speche
Of Tereus the spousebreche.
Sche wol noght in the wodes duelle,
For sche wolde openliche telle;
And ek for that sche was a spouse,
Among the folk sche comth to house,
To do thes wyves understonde
The falshod of here housebonde,
That thei of hem be war also,
For ther ben manye untrewe of tho.
Thus ben the sostres briddes bothe,
And ben toward the men so lothe,
That thei ne wole of pure schame
Unto no mannes hand be tame.
Forevere it duelleth in here mynde
Of that thei founde a man unkinde,
And that was false Tereus.
If such on be amonges ous
I not, bot his condicion
Men sein in every region
Withinne toune and ek withoute
Nou regneth comunliche aboute.
And natheles in remembrance
I wol declare what vengance
The goddes hadden him ordeined,
Of that the sostres hadden pleigned.
For anon after he was changed
And from his oghne kinde stranged,
A lappewincke mad he was,
And thus he hoppeth on the gras,
And on his hed ther stant upriht
A creste in tokne he was a kniht;
And yit unto this dai men seith,
A lappewincke hath lore his feith
And is the brid falseste of alle.
Bewar, mi sone, er thee so falle;
For if thou be of such covine,
To gete of love be Ravine
Thi lust, it mai thee falle thus,
As it befell of Tereus."
"Mi fader, goddes forebode!
Me were levere be fortrode
With wilde hors and be todrawe,
Er I agein love and his lawe
Dede eny thing or loude or stille,
Which were noght mi ladi wille.
Men sein that every love hath drede;
So folweth it that I hire drede,
For I hire love, and who so dredeth,
To plese his love and serve him nedeth.
Thus mai ye knowen be this skile
That no Ravine don I wile
Agein hir will be such a weie.
Bot while I live, I wol obeie
Abidinge on hire courtesie,
If eny merci wolde hir plie.
Forthi, mi fader, as of this
I wot noght I have don amis.
Bot furthermore I you beseche,
Som other point that ye me teche,
And axeth forth, if ther be auht,
That I mai be the betre tauht."
"Whan Covoitise in povere astat
Stant with himself upon debat
Thurgh lacke of his misgovernance,
That he unto his sustienance
Ne can non other weie finde
To gete him good, thanne as the blinde,
Which seth noght what schal after falle,
That ilke vice which men calle
Of Robberie, he takth on honde;
Wherof be water and be londe
Of thing which othre men beswinke
He get him cloth and mete and drinke.
Him reccheth noght what he beginne,
Thurgh thefte so that he mai winne.
Forthi to maken his pourchas
He lith awaitende on the pas,
And what thing that he seth ther passe,
He takth his part, or more or lasse,
If it be worthi to be take.
He can the packes wel ransake,
So prively berth non aboute
His gold, that he ne fint it oute,
Or other juel, what it be;
He takth it as his propreté.
In wodes and in feldes eke
Thus Robberie goth to seke,
Wher as he mai his pourpos finde.
And riht so in the same kinde,
Mi goode sone, as thou miht hiere,
To speke of love in the matiere
And make a verrai resemblance,
Riht as a thief makth his chevance
And robbeth mennes good aboute
In wode and field, wher he goth oute,
So be ther of these lovers some,
In wylde stedes wher thei come
And finden there a womman able,
And therto place covenable,
Withoute leve, er that thei fare,
Thei take a part of that chaffare:
Yee, though sche were a scheperdesse,
Yit wol the lord of wantounesse
Assaie, althogh sche be unmete,
For other mennes good is swete.
Bot therof wot nothing the wif
At hom, which loveth as hir lif
Hir lord, and sitt alday wisshinge
After hir lordes hom comynge.
Bot whan that he comth hom at eve,
Anon he makth his wif beleve,
For sche noght elles scholde knowe.
He telth hire hou his hunte hath blowe,
And hou his houndes have wel runne,
And hou ther schon a merye sunne,
And hou his haukes flowen wel;
Bot he wol telle hire nevere a diel
Hou he to love untrewe was,
Of that he robbede in the pas,
And tok his lust under the schawe
Agein love and agein his lawe.
Which thing, mi sone, I thee forbede,
For it is an ungoodly dede.
For who that takth be Robberie
His love, he mai noght justefie
His cause, and so fulofte sithe
For ones that he hath be blithe
He schal ben after sory thries.
Ensample of suche Robberies
I finde write, as thou schalt hiere,
Acordende unto this matiere.
[Tale of Neptune and Cornix]
I rede hou whilom was a maide,
The faireste, as Ovide saide,
Which was in hire time tho;
And sche was of the chambre also
Of Pallas, which is the goddesse
And wif to Marte, of whom prouesse
Is gove to these worthi knihtes.
For he is of so grete mihtes,
That he governeth the bataille.
Withouten him may noght availe
The stronge hond, bot he it helpe;
Ther mai no knyht of armes yelpe,
Bot he feihte under his banere.
Bot nou to speke of mi matiere,
This faire, freisshe, lusti mai,
Alone as sche wente on a dai
Upon the stronde for to pleie,
Ther cam Neptunus in the weie,
Which hath the see in governance;
And in his herte such plesance
He tok, whan he this maide sih,
That al his herte aros on hih,
For he so sodeinliche unwar
Behield the beauté that sche bar.
And caste anon withinne his herte
That sche him schal no weie asterte,
Bot if he take in avantage
Fro thilke maide som pilage,
Noght of the broches ne the ringes,
Bot of some othre smale thinges
He thoghte parte, er that sche wente;
And hire in bothe hise armes hente,
And putte his hond toward the cofre
Wher for to robbe he made a profre
That lusti tresor for to stele,
Which passeth othre goodes fele
And cleped is the maidenhede,
Which is the flour of wommanhede.
This maiden, which Cornix be name
Was hote, dredende alle schame,
Sih that sche mihte noght debate,
And wel sche wiste he wolde algate
Fulfille his lust of Robberie,
Anon began to wepe and crie,
And seide, 'O Pallas, noble queene,
Scheu nou thi myht and let be sene,
To kepe and save myn honour!
Help, that I lese noght mi flour,
Which nou under thi keie is loke.'
That word was noght so sone spoke,
Whan Pallas schop recoverir
After the will and the desir
Of hire, which a maiden was,
And sodeinliche upon this cas
Out of hire wommanisshe kinde
Into a briddes like I finde
Sche was transformed forth withal,
So that Neptunus nothing stal
Of such thing as he wolde have stole.
With fetheres blake as eny cole
Out of hise armes in a throwe
Sche flih before his yhe a crowe;
Which was to hire a more delit,
To kepe hire maidenhede whit
Under the wede of fethers blake,
In perles whyte than forsake
That no lif mai restore agein.
Bot thus Neptune his herte in vein
Hath upon Robberie sett;
The bridd is flowe and he was let,
The faire maide him hath ascaped,
Wherof forevere he was bejaped
And scorned of that he hath lore.
Mi sone, be thou war therfore
That thou no maidenhode stele,
Wherof men sen deseses fele
Aldai befalle in sondri wise;
So as I schal thee yit devise
Another tale therupon,
Which fell be olde daies gon.
[Tale of Calistona]
King Lichaon upon his wif
A dowhter hadde, a goodly lif,
A clene maide of worthi fame,
Calistona whos rihte name
Was cleped, and of many a lord
Sche was besoght, bot hire acord
To love myhte no man winne,
As sche which hath no lust therinne;
Bot swor withinne hir herte and saide
That sche wolde evere ben a maide.
Wherof to kepe hireself in pes
With suche as Amadriades
Were cleped, wodemaydes, tho,
And with the nimphes ek also
Upon the spring of freisshe welles
Sche schop to duelle and nagher elles.
And thus cam this Calistona
Into the wode of Tegea,
Wher sche virginité behihte
Unto Diane, and therto plihte
Her trouthe upon the bowes grene,
To kepe hir maidenhode clene.
Which afterward upon a day
Was priveliche stole away;
For Jupiter thurgh his queintise
From hire it tok in such a wise,
That sodeinliche forth withal
Hire wombe aros and sche toswal,
So that it mihte noght ben hidd.
And therupon it is betidd,
Diane, which it herde telle,
In privé place unto a welle
With nimphes al a compainie
Was come, and in a ragerie
Sche seide that sche bathe wolde,
And bad that every maide scholde
With hire al naked bathe also.
And tho began the privé wo:
Calistona wax red for schame,
Bot thei that knewe noght the game,
To whom no such thing was befalle,
Anon thei made hem naked alle,
As thei that nothing wolden hyde.
Bot sche withdrouh hire evere asyde,
And natheles into the flod,
Wher that Diane hirselve stod,
Sche thoghte come unaperceived.
Bot therof sche was al deceived;
For whan sche cam a litel nyh,
And that Diane hire wombe syh,
Sche seide, 'Awey, thou foule beste,
For thin astat is noght honeste
This chaste water for to touche;
For thou hast take such a touche,
Which nevere mai ben hol agein.'
And thus goth sche which was forlein
With schame, and fro the nimphes fledde,
Til whanne that nature hire spedde,
That of a sone, which Archas
Was named, sche delivered was.
And tho Juno, which was the wif
Of Jupiter, wroth and hastif,
In pourpos for to do vengance
Cam forth upon this ilke chance,
And to Calistona sche spak,
And sette upon hir many a lak,
And seide, 'Ha, nou thou art atake,
That thou thi werk myht noght forsake.
Ha, thou ungoodlich ypocrite,
Hou thou art gretly for to wyte!
Bot nou thou schalt ful sore abie
That ilke stelthe and micherie,
Which thou hast bothe take and do;
Wherof thi fader Lichao
Schal noght be glad, whan he it wot,
Of that his dowhter was so hot
That sche hath broke hire chaste avou.
Bot I thee schal chastise nou;
Thi grete beauté schal be torned,
Thurgh which that thou hast be mistorned,
Thi large frount, thin yhen greie,
I schal hem change in other weie,
And al the feture of thi face
In such a wise I schal deface,
That every man thee schal forbere.'
With that the liknesse of a bere
Sche tok and was forschape anon.
Withinne a time and therupon
Befell that with a bowe on honde,
To hunte and gamen for to fonde,
Into that wode goth to pleie
Hir sone Archas, and in his weie
It hapneth that this bere cam.
And whan that sche good hiede nam,
Wher that he stod under the bowh,
Sche kneu him wel and to him drouh;
For thogh sche hadde hire forme lore,
The love was noght lost therfore
Which kinde hath set under his lawe.
Whan sche under the wodesschawe
Hire child behield, sche was so glad,
That sche with bothe hire armes sprad,
As thogh sche were in wommanhiede,
Toward him cam, and tok non hiede
Of that he bar a bowe bent.
And he with that an arwe hath hent
And gan to teise it in his bowe,
As he that can non other knowe,
Bot that it was a beste wylde.
Bot Jupiter, which wolde schylde
The moder and the sone also,
Ordeineth for hem bothe so,
That thei forevere were save.
Bot thus, mi sone, thou myht have
Ensample, hou that it is to fle
To robbe the virginité
Of a yong innocent aweie.
And overthis be other weie,
In olde bokes as I rede,
Such Robberie is for to drede,
And nameliche of thilke good
Which every womman that is good
Desireth for to kepe and holde,
As whilom was be daies olde.
For if thou se mi tale wel
Of that was tho, thou miht somdiel
Of old ensample taken hiede,
Hou that the flour of maidenhiede
Was thilke time holde in pris.
And so it was, and so it is,
And so it schal forevere stonde.
And for thou schalt it understonde,
Nou herkne a tale next suiende,
Hou maidenhod is to commende."
"Of Rome among the gestes olde
I finde hou that Valerie tolde
That what man tho was Emperour
Of Rome, he scholde don honour
To the virgine, and in the weie,
Wher he hire mette, he scholde obeie
In worschipe of virginité,
Which tho was of gret dignité.
Noght onliche of the wommen tho,
Bot of the chaste men also
It was commended overal.
And for to speke in special
Touchende of men, ensample I finde,
Phyryns, which was of mannes kinde
Above alle othre the faireste
Of Rome and ek the comelieste,
That wel was hire which him mihte
Beholde and have of him a sihte.
Thus was he tempted ofte sore;
Bot for he wolde be no more
Among the wommen so coveited,
The beauté of his face streited
He hath, and threste out bothe hise yhen,
That alle wommen whiche him syhen
Thanne afterward, of him ne roghte.
And thus his maidehiede he boghte.
So mai I prove wel forthi,
Above alle othre under the sky,
Who that the vertus wolde peise,
Virginité is for to preise,
Which, as th'Apocalips recordeth,
To Crist in hevene best acordeth.
So mai it schewe wel therfore,
As I have told it hiertofore,
In hevene and ek in erthe also
It is accept to bothe tuo.
And if I schal more over this
Declare what this vertu is,
I finde write upon this thing
Of Valentinian the king
And Emperour be thilke daies,
A worthi knyht at alle assaies,
Hou he withoute mariage
Was of an hundred wynter age,
And hadde ben a worthi kniht
Bothe of his lawe and of his myht.
Bot whan men wolde his dedes peise
And his knyhthode of armes preise,
Of that he dede with hise hondes,
Whan he the kinges and the londes
To his subjeccion put under,
Of al that pris hath he no wonder,
For he it sette of non acompte,
And seide al that may noght amonte
Ageins o point which he hath nome,
That he his fleissh hath overcome:
He was a virgine, as he seide;
On that bataille his pris he leide.
Lo nou, my sone, avise thee."
"Yee, fader, al this wel mai be,
Bot if alle othre dede so,
The world of men were sone go
And in the lawe a man mai finde,
Hou God to man be weie of kinde
Hath set the world to multeplie;
And who that wol him justefie,
It is ynouh to do the lawe.
And natheles youre goode sawe
Is good to kepe, who so may,
I wol noght theragein seie nay."
[Agamemnon and Criseide]
"Mi sone, take it as I seie;
If maidenhod be take aweie
Withoute lawes ordinance,
It mai noght failen of vengance.
And if thou wolt the sothe wite,
Behold a tale which is write,
Hou that the King Agamenon,
Whan he the cité of Lesbon
Hath wonne, a maiden ther he fond,
Which was the faireste of the lond
In thilke time that men wiste.
He tok of hire what him liste
Of thing which was most precious,
Wherof that sche was dangerous.
This faire maiden cleped is
Criseide, douhter of Crisis,
Which was that time in special
Of thilke temple principal,
Wher Phebus hadde his sacrifice,
So was it wel the more vice.
Agamenon was thanne in weie
To Troieward, and tok aweie
This maiden, which he with him ladde,
So grete a lust in hire he hadde.
Bot Phebus, which hath gret desdeign
Of that his maiden was forlein,
Anon as he to Troie cam,
Vengance upon this dede he nam
And sende a comun pestilence.
Thei soghten thanne here evidence
And maden calculacion,
To knowe in what condicion
This deth cam in so sodeinly;
And ate laste redyly
The cause and ek the man thei founde:
And forth withal the same stounde
Agamenon opposed was,
Which hath beknowen al the cas
Of the folie which he wroghte.
And therupon mercy thei soghte
Toward the god in sondri wise
With preiere and with sacrifise,
The maide and hom agein thei sende,
And give hire good ynouh to spende
Forevere whil sche scholde live.
And thus the senne was forgive
And al the pestilence cessed.
Lo, what it is to ben encressed
Of love which is evele wonne.
It were betre noght begonne
Than take a thing withoute leve,
Which thou most after nedes leve,
And yit have malgré forth withal.
Forthi to robben overal
In loves cause if thou beginne,
I not what ese thou schalt winne.
Mi sone, be wel war of this,
For thus of Robberie it is."
"Mi fader, youre ensamplerie
In loves cause of Robberie
I have it riht wel understonde.
Bot overthis, hou so it stonde,
Yit wolde I wite of youre aprise
What thing is more of Covoitise."
[Stealth and Pilfering]
"With Covoitise yit I finde
A servant of the same kinde,
Which Stelthe is hote, and Mecherie
With him is evere in compainie.
Of whom if I schal telle soth,
He stalketh as a pocok doth,
And takth his preie so covert,
That no man wot it in apert.
For whan he wot the lord from home,
Than wol he stalke aboute and rome;
And what thing he fint in his weie,
Whan that he seth the men aweie,
He stelth it and goth forth withal,
That therof no man knowe schal.
And ek fulofte he goth a nyht
Withoute mone or sterreliht,
And with his craft the dore unpiketh,
And takth therinne what him liketh.
And if the dore be so schet,
That he be of his entré let,
He wole in ate wyndou crepe,
And whil the lord is faste aslepe,
He stelth what thing as him best list,
And goth his weie er it be wist.
Fulofte also be lyhte of day
Yit wole he stele and make assay;
Under the cote his hond he put,
Til he the mannes purs have cut,
And rifleth that he fint therinne.
And thus he auntreth him to winne,
And berth an horn and noght ne bloweth,
For no man of his conseil knoweth;
What he mai gete of his michinge,
It is al bile under the winge.
And as an hound that goth to folde
And hath ther taken what he wolde,
His mouth upon the gras he wypeth,
And so with feigned chiere him slypeth,
That what as evere of schep he strangle,
Ther is no man therof schal jangle,
As for to knowen who it dede;
Riht so doth Stelthe in every stede,
Where as him list his preie take.
He can so wel his cause make
And so wel feigne and so wel glose,
That ther ne schal no man suppose,
Bot that he were an innocent,
And thus a mannes yhe he blent:
So that this craft I mai remene
Withouten help of eny mene.
Ther be lovers of that degré,
Which al here lust in priveté,
As who seith, geten al be Stelthe,
And ofte atteignen to gret welthe
As for the time that it lasteth.
For love awaiteth evere and casteth
Hou he mai stele and cacche his preie,
Whan he therto mai finde a weie.
For be it nyht or be it day,
He takth his part, whan that he may,
And if he mai no more do,
Yit wol he stele a cuss or tuo.
Mi sone, what seist thou therto?
Tell if thou dedest evere so."
"Mi fader, hou?"
"Mi sone, thus, -
If thou hast stolen eny cuss
Or other thing which therto longeth,
For no man suche thieves hongeth,
Tell on forthi and sei the trouthe."
"Mi fader, nay, and that is routhe,
For be mi will I am a thief;
Bot sche that is to me most lief,
Yit dorste I nevere in priveté
Noght ones take hire be the kne,
To stele of hire or this or that,
And if I dorste, I wot wel what!
And natheles, bot if I lie,
Be Stelthe ne be Robberie
Of love, which fell in mi thoght,
To hire dede I nevere noght.
Bot as men sein, wher herte is failed,
Ther schal no castell ben assailed;
Bot thogh I hadde hertes ten,
And were als strong as alle men,
If I be noght myn oghne man
And dar noght usen that I can,
I mai miselve noght recovere.
Thogh I be nevere man so povere,
I bere an herte and hire it is,
So that me faileth wit in this,
Hou that I scholde of myn acord
The servant lede agein the lord.
For if mi fot wolde awher go,
Or that min hand wolde elles do,
Whan that myn herte is theragein,
The remenant is al in vein.
And thus me lacketh alle wele,
And yit ne dar I nothing stele
Of thing which longeth unto love:
And ek it is so hyh above,
I mai noght wel therto areche,
Bot if so be at time of speche,
Ful selde if thanne I stele may
A word or tuo and go my way.
Betwen hire hih astat and me
Comparison ther mai non be,
So that I fiele and wel I wot,
Al is to hevy and to hot
To sette on hond withoute leve.
And thus I mot algate leve
To stele that I mai noght take,
And in this wise I mot forsake
To ben a thief agein mi wille
Of thing which I mai noght fulfille.
For that serpent which nevere slept
The flees of gold so wel ne kepte
In Colchos, as the tale is told,
That mi ladi a thousendfold
Nys betre yemed and bewaked,
Wher sche be clothed or be naked.
To kepe hir bodi nyht and day,
Sche hath a wardein redi ay,
Which is so wonderful a wyht,
That him ne mai no mannes myht
With swerd ne with no wepne daunte,
Ne with no sleihte of charme enchaunte,
Wherof he mihte be mad tame,
And Danger is his rihte name;
Which under lock and under keie,
That no man mai it stele aweie,
Hath al the tresor underfonge
That unto love mai belonge.
The leste lokinge of hire yhe
Mai noght be stole, if he it syhe;
And who so gruccheth for so lyte,
He wolde sone sette a wyte
On him that wolde stele more.
And that me grieveth wonder sore,
For this proverbe is evere newe,
That stronge lokes maken trewe
Of hem that wolden stele and pyke:
For so wel can ther no man slyke
Be him ne be non other mene,
To whom Danger wol give or lene
Of that tresor he hath to kepe.
So thogh I wolde stalke and crepe,
And wayte on eve and ek on morwe,
Of Danger schal I nothing borwe,
And stele I wot wel may I noght.
And thus I am riht wel bethoght,
Whil Danger stant in his office,
Of Stelthe, which ye clepe a vice,
I schal be gultif neveremo.
Therfore I wolde he were ago
So fer that I nevere of him herde,
Hou so that afterward it ferde.
For thanne I mihte yit per cas
Of love make som pourchas
Be Stelthe or be som other weie,
That nou fro me stant fer aweie.
Bot, fader, as ye tolde above,
Hou Stelthe goth a nyht for love,
I mai noght wel that point forsake,
That ofte times I ne wake
On nyhtes, whan that othre slepe.
Bot hou, I prei you, taketh kepe.
Whan I am loged in such wise
That I be nyhte mai arise
At som wyndowe and loken oute
And se the housinge al aboute,
So that I mai the chambre knowe
In which mi ladi, as I trowe,
Lyth in hir bed and slepeth softe,
Thanne is myn herte a thief fulofte.
For there I stonde to beholde
The longe nyhtes that ben colde
And thenke on hire that lyth there.
And thanne I wisshe that I were
Als wys as was Nectanabus
Or elles as was Protheus,
That couthen bothe of nigromaunce
In what liknesse, in what semblaunce,
Riht as hem liste, hemself transforme.
For if I were of such a forme,
I seie thanne I wolde fle
Into the chambre for to se
If eny grace wolde falle,
So that I mihte under the palle
Som thing of love pyke and stele.
And thus I thenke thoghtes fele,
And thogh therof nothing be soth,
Yit ese as for a time it doth.
Bot ate laste whanne I finde
That I am falle into my mynde,
And se that I have stonde longe
And have no profit underfonge,
Than stalke I to mi bedd withinne.
And this is al that evere I winne
Of love, whanne I walke on nyht.
Mi will is good, bot of mi myht
Me lacketh bothe and of mi grace;
For what so that mi thoghte embrace,
Yit have I noght the betre ferd.
Mi fader, lo, nou have ye herd
What I be Stelthe of love have do,
And hou mi will hath be therto.
If I be worthi to penance
I put it on your ordinance."
"Mi sone, of stelthe I thee behiete,
Thogh it be for a time swete,
At ende it doth bot litel good,
As be ensample hou that it stod
Whilom, I mai thee telle nou."
"I preie you, fader, sei me hou."
"Mi sone, of him which goth be daie
Be weie of Stelthe to assaie,
In loves cause and takth his preie,
Ovide seide as I schal seie,
And in his Methamor he tolde
A tale, which is good to holde.
[Tale of Leucothoe]
The poete upon this matiere
Of Stelthe wrot in this manere.
Venus, which hath this lawe in honde
Of thing which mai noght be withstonde,
As sche which the tresor to warde
Of love hath withinne hir warde,
Phebum to love hath so constreigned,
That he withoute reste is peined
With al his herte to coveite
A maiden, which was warded streyte
Withinne chambre and kept so clos,
That selden was whan sche, desclos,
Goth with hir moder for to pleie.
Leuchotoe, so as men seie,
This maiden hihte and Orchamus
Hir fader was; and befell thus.
This doughter, that was kept so deere,
And hadde be fro yer to yeere
Under hir moder discipline
A clene maide and a virgine,
Upon the whos nativité
Of comelihiede and of beauté
Nature hath set al that sche may,
That lich unto the fresshe Maii,
Which othre monthes of the yeer
Surmonteth, so withoute pier
Was of this maiden the feture.
Wherof Phebus out of mesure
Hire loveth, and on every syde
Awaiteth, if so mai betyde,
That he thurgh eny sleihte myhte
Hire lusti maidenhod unrihte,
The which were al his worldes welthe.
And thus lurkende upon his stelthe
In his await so longe he lai,
Til it befell upon a dai,
That he thurghout hir chambre wall
Cam in al sodeinliche, and stall
That thing which was to him so lief.
Bot wo the while, he was a thief!
For Venus, which was enemie
Of thilke loves micherie,
Discovereth al the pleine cas
To Clymene, which thanne was
Toward Phebus his concubine.
And sche to lette the covine
Of thilke love, dedli wroth
To pleigne upon this maide goth,
And tolde hire fader hou it stod;
Wherof for sorwe welnyh wod
Unto hire moder thus he saide:
'Lo, what it is to kepe a maide!
To Phebus dar I nothing speke,
Bot upon hire I schal be wreke,
So that these maidens after this
Mow take ensample, what it is
To soffre her maidenhed be stole
Wherof that sche the deth schal thole.'
And bad with that do make a pet,
Wherinne he hath his douhter set,
As he that wol no pité have,
So that sche was al quik begrave
And deide anon in his presence.
Bot Phebus, for the reverence
Of that sche hadde be his love,
Hath wroght thurgh his pouer above,
That sche sprong up out of the molde
Into a flour was named golde,
Which stant governed of the sonne.
And thus whan love is evele wonne,
Fulofte it comth to repentaile."
"Mi fader, that is no mervaile,
Whan that the conseil is bewreid.
Bot ofte time love hath pleid
And stole many a privé game,
Which nevere yit cam into blame,
Whan that the thinges weren hidde.
Bot in youre tale, as it betidde,
Venus discoverede al the cas,
And ek also brod dai it was,
Whan Phebus such a Stelthe wroghte,
Wherof the maide in blame he broghte,
That afterward sche was so lore.
Bot for ye seiden nou tofore
Hou stelthe of love goth be nyhte,
And doth hise thinges out of syhte,
Therof me liste also to hiere
A tale lich to the matiere,
Wherof I myhte ensample take."
"Mi goode sone, and for thi sake,
So as it fell be daies olde,
And so as the poete it tolde,
Upon the nyhtes micherie
Nou herkne a tale of poesie.
[Tale of Hercules and Faunus]
The myhtieste of alle men
Whan Hercules with Eolen,
Which was the love of his corage,
Togedre upon a pelrinage
Towardes Rome scholden go,
It fell hem be the weie so,
That thei upon a dai a cave
Withinne a roche founden have,
Which was real and glorious
And of entaile curious,
Be name and Thophis it was hote.
The sonne schon tho wonder hote,
As it was in the somer tyde.
This Hercules, which be his syde
Hath Eolen his love there,
Whan thei at thilke cave were,
He seide it thoghte him for the beste
That sche hire for the hete reste
Al thilke day and thilke nyht;
And sche, that was a lusti wyht,
It liketh hire al that he seide.
And thus thei duelle there and pleide
The longe dai. And so befell,
This cave was under the hell
Of Tymolus, which was begrowe
With vines, and at thilke throwe
Faunus with Saba the goddesse,
Be whom the large wildernesse
In thilke time stod governed,
Weere in a place, as I am lerned,
Nyh by, which Bachus wode hihte.
This Faunus tok a gret insihte
Of Eolen, that was so nyh;
For whan that he hire beauté syh,
Out of his wit he was assoted,
And in his herte it hath so noted,
That he forsok the nimphes alle,
And seide he wolde, hou so it falle,
Assaie another for to winne
So that his hertes thoght withinne
He sette and caste hou that he myhte
Of love pyke awey be nyhte
That he be daie in other wise
To stele mihte noght suffise.
And therupon his time he waiteth.
Nou tak good hiede hou love afaiteth
Him which withal is overcome.
Faire Eolen, whan sche was come
With Hercules into the cave,
Sche seide him that sche wolde have
Hise clothes of and hires bothe,
That ech of hem scholde other clothe.
And al was do riht as sche bad,
He hath hire in hise clothes clad
And caste on hire his gulion,
Which of the skyn of a leon
Was mad, as he upon the weie
It slouh, and overthis to pleie
Sche tok his grete mace also
And knet it at hir gerdil tho.
So was sche lich the man arraied,
And Hercules thanne hath assaied
To clothen him in hire array.
And thus thei jape forth the dai,
Til that her souper redy were.
And whan thei hadden souped there,
Thei schopen hem to gon to reste;
And as it thoghte hem for the beste,
Thei bede, as for that ilke nyht,
Tuo sondri beddes to be dyht,
For thei togedre ligge nolde,
Because that thei offre wolde
Upon the morwe here sacrifice.
The servantz deden here office
And sondri beddes made anon,
Wherin that thei to reste gon
Ech be himself in sondri place.
Faire Eole hath set the mace
Beside hire beddes hed above,
And with the clothes of hire love
Sche helede al hire bed aboute;
And he, which hadde of nothing doute,
Hire wympel wond aboute his cheke,
Hire kertell and hire mantel eke
Abrod upon his bed he spredde.
And thus thei slepen bothe abedde.
And what of travail, what of wyn,
The servantz lich to drunke swyn
Begunne for to route faste.
This Faunus, which his stelthe caste,
Was thanne come to the cave,
And fond thei weren alle save
Withoute noise, and in he wente.
The derke nyht his sihte blente,
And yit it happeth him to go
Where Eolen abedde tho
Was leid alone for to slepe;
Bot for he wolde take kepe
Whos bed it was, he made assai,
And of the leoun, where it lay,
The cote he fond, and ek he fieleth
The mace, and thanne his herte kieleth,
That there dorste he noght abyde,
Bot stalketh upon every side
And soghte aboute with his hond,
That other bedd til that he fond,
Wher lai bewympled a visage.
Tho was he glad in his corage,
For he hir kertell fond also
And ek hir mantell bothe tuo
Bespred upon the bed alofte.
He made him naked thanne, and softe
Into the bedd unwar he crepte,
Wher Hercules that time slepte,
And wende wel it were sche;
And thus in stede of Eole
Anon he profreth him to love.
Bot he, which felte a man above,
This Hercules, him threw to grounde
So sore, that thei have him founde
Liggende there upon the morwe;
And tho was noght a litel sorwe,
That Faunus of himselve made,
Bot elles thei were alle glade
And lowhen him to scorne aboute.
Saba with nimphis al a route
Cam doun to loke hou that he ferde,
And whan that thei the sothe herde,
He was bejaped overal.
Mi sone, be thou war withal
To seche suche mecheries,
Bot if thou have the betre aspies,
In aunter if thee so betyde
As Faunus dede thilke tyde,
Wherof thou miht be schamed so."
"Min holi fader, certes no.
Bot if I hadde riht good leve,
Such mecherie I thenke leve.
Mi feinte herte wol noght serve;
For malgré wolde I noght deserve
In thilke place wher I love.
Bot for ye tolden hier above
Of Covoitise and his pilage,
If ther be more of that lignage,
Which toucheth to mi schrifte, I preie
That ye therof me wolde seie,
So that I mai the vice eschuie."
"Mi sone, if I be order suie
The vices, as thei stonde arowe,
Of Covoitise thou schalt knowe
Ther is yit on, which is the laste;
In whom ther mai no vertu laste,
For he with God himself debateth,
Wherof that al the hevene him hateth."
"The hihe God, which alle goode
Pourveied hath for mannes fode
Of clothes and of mete and drinke,
Bad Adam that he scholde swinke
To geten him his sustienance;
And ek he sette an ordinance
Upon the lawe of Moises,
That though a man be haveles,
Yit schal he noght be thefte stele.
Bot nou adaies ther ben fele
That wol no labour undertake,
Bot what thei mai be Stelthe take
Thei holde it sikerliche wonne.
And thus the lawe is overronne
Which God hath set, and namely
With hem that so untrewely
The goodes robbe of Holi Cherche.
The thefte which thei thanne werche
Be name is cleped Sacrilegge,
Agein the whom I thenke alegge.
Of his condicion to telle,
Which rifleth bothe bok and belle,
So forth with al the remenant
To Goddes hous appourtenant,
Wher that he scholde bidde his bede,
He doth his thefte in holi stede,
And takth what thing he fint therinne.
For whan he seth that he mai winne,
He wondeth for no cursednesse,
That he ne brekth the holinesse
And doth to God no reverence;
For he hath lost his conscience,
That though the prest therfore curse,
He seith he fareth noght the wurse.
And for to speke it otherwise,
What man that lasseth the franchise
And takth of Holi Cherche his preie,
I not what bedes he schal preie.
Whan he fro God, which hath give al,
The pourpartie in special,
Which unto Crist himself is due,
Benymth, he mai noght wel eschue
The peine comende afterward;
For he hath mad his foreward
With Sacrilegge for to duelle,
Which hath his heritage in helle.
And if we rede of th'olde lawe,
I finde write, in thilke dawe
Of princes hou ther weren thre
Coupable sore in this degré.
That on of hem was cleped thus,
The proude king Antiochus;
That other Nabuzardan hihte,
Which of his crualté behyhte
The temple to destruie and waste,
And so he dede in alle haste;
The thridde, which was after schamed,
Was Nabugodonosor named,
And he Jerusalem putte under,
Of Sacrilegge and many a wonder
There in the holi temple he wroghte,
Which Baltazar his heir aboghte,
Whan Mane, Techel, Phares write
Was on the wal, as thou miht wite,
So as the Bible it hath declared.
Bot for al that it is noght spared
Yit nou aday, that men ne pile,
And maken argument and skile
To Sacrilegge as it belongeth,
For what man that ther after longeth,
He takth non hiede what he doth.
[Sacrilegiousness of Lovers]
And riht so, for to telle soth,
In loves cause if I schal trete,
Ther ben of suche smale and grete.
If thei no leisir fynden elles,
Thei wol noght wonden for the belles,
Ne thogh thei sen the prest at masse;
That wol thei leten overpasse.
If that thei finde here love there,
Thei stonde and tellen in hire ere,
And axe of God non other grace,
Whyl thei ben in that holi place;
Bot er thei gon som avantage
Ther wol thei have, and som pilage
Of goodli word or of beheste,
Or elles thei take ate leste
Out of hir hand or ring or glove,
So nyh the weder thei wol love,
As who seith sche schal noght forgete,
Nou I this tokne of hire have gete.
Thus halwe thei the hihe feste.
Such thefte mai no cherche areste,
For al is leveful that hem liketh,
To whom that elles it misliketh.
And ek riht in the selve kinde
In grete cites men mai finde
This lusti folk, that make it gay,
And waite upon the haliday.
In cherches and in menstres eke
Thei gon the wommen for to seke,
And wher that such on goth aboute,
Tofore the faireste of the route,
Wher as thei sitten alle arewe,
Ther wol he most his bodi schewe,
His croket kembd and theron set
A nouche with a chapelet,
Or elles on of grene leves,
Which late com out of the greves,
Al for he scholde seme freissh.
And thus he loketh on the fleissh
Riht as an hauk which hath a sihte
Upon the foul, ther he schal lihte;
And as he were of faierie,
He scheweth him tofore here yhe
In holi place wher thei sitte,
Al for to make here hertes flitte.
His yhe nawher wole abyde,
Bot loke and prie on every syde
On hire and hire, as him best lyketh.
And otherwhile among he syketh;
Thenkth on of hem, 'That was for me,'
And so ther thenken tuo or thre,
And yit he loveth non of alle,
Bot wher as evere his chance falle.
And natheles to seie a soth,
The cause why that he so doth
Is for to stele an herte or tuo,
Out of the cherche er that he go
And as I seide it hier above,
Al is that Sacrilege of love;
For wel mai be he stelth away
That he nevere after yelde may.
Tell me forthi, my sone, anon,
Hast thou do Sacrilege, or non,
As I have said in this manere?"
"Mi fader, as of this matiere
I wole you tellen redely
What I have do; bot trewely
I mai excuse min entente,
That nevere I yit to cherche wente
In such manere as ye me schryve,
For no womman that is on lyve.
The cause why I have it laft
Mai be for I unto that craft
Am nothing able so to stele,
Thogh ther be wommen noght so fele.
Bot yit wol I noght seie this,
Whan I am ther mi ladi is,
In whom lith holly mi querele,
And sche to cherche or to chapele
Wol go to matins or to messe,
That time I waite wel and gesse,
To cherche I come and there I stonde,
And thogh I take a bok on honde,
Mi contienance is on the bok,
Bot toward hire is al my lok.
And if so falle that I preie
Unto mi God, and somwhat seie
Of Paternoster or of Crede,
Al is for that I wolde spede,
So that mi bede in Holi Cherche
Ther mihte som miracle werche
Mi ladi herte for to chaunge,
Which evere hath be to me so strange.
So that al mi devocion
And al mi contemplacion
With al min herte and mi corage
Is only set on hire ymage,
And evere I waite upon the tyde.
If sche loke eny thing asyde,
That I me mai of hire avise,
Anon I am with covoitise
So smite, that me were lief
To ben in Holi Cherche a thief,
Bot noght to stele a vestement,
For that is nothing mi talent.
Bot I wold stele, if that I mihte,
A glad word or a goodly syhte;
And evere mi service I profre,
And namly whan sche wol gon offre,
For thanne I lede hire, if I may,
For somwhat wolde I stele away.
Whan I beclippe hire on the wast,
Yit ate leste I stele a tast,
And otherwhile 'grant mercy'
Sche seith, and so winne I therby
A lusti touch, a good word eke,
Bot al the remenant to seke
Is fro mi pourpos wonder ferr.
So mai I seie, as I seide er,
In Holy Cherche if that I wowe,
My conscience it wolde allowe,
Be so that up amendement
I mihte gete assignement
Wher for to spede in other place.
Such Sacrilege I holde a grace.
And thus, mi fader, soth to seie,
In cherche riht as in the weie,
If I mihte oght of love take,
Such hansell have I noght forsake.
Bot finali I me confesse,
Ther is in me non holinesse
Whil I hire se in eny stede;
And yit, for oght that evere I dede,
No Sacrilege of hire I tok,
Bot if it were of word or lok,
Or elles if that I hir fredde,
Whan I toward offringe hir ledde,
Take therof what I take may,
For elles bere I noght away.
For thogh I wolde oght elles have,
Alle othre thinges ben so save
And kept with such a privilege,
That I mai do no Sacrilege.
God wot mi wille natheles,
Thogh I mot nedes kepe pes
And malgré myn so let it passe,
Mi will therto is noght the lasse,
If I mihte other wise aweie.
Forthi, mi fader, I you preie,
Tell what you thenketh therupon,
If I therof have gult or non."
"Thi will, mi sone, is for to blame,
The remenant is bot a game,
That I have herd thee telle as yit.
Bot tak this lore into thi wit,
That alle thing hath time and stede,
The cherche serveth for the bede,
The chambre is of another speche.
Bot if thou wistest of the wreche,
Hou Sacrilege it hath aboght,
Thou woldest betre ben bethoght;
And for thou schalt the more amende,
A tale I wole on thee despende.
[Tale of Paris and Helen]
To alle men, as who seith, knowe
It is, and in the world thurgh blowe,
Hou that of Troie Lamedon
To Hercules and to Jasoun,
Whan toward Colchos out of Grece
Be see sailende upon a piece
Of lond of Troie reste preide,
Bot he hem wrathfulli congeide.
And for thei founde him so vilein,
Whan thei come into Grece agein,
With pouer that thei gete myhte
Towardes Troie thei hem dyhte,
And ther thei token such vengance,
Wherof stant yit the remembrance;
For thei destruide king and al,
And leften bot the brente wal.
The Grecs of Troiens many slowe
And prisoners thei toke ynowe,
Among the whiche ther was on,
The kinges doughter Lamedon,
Esiona, that faire thing,
Which unto Thelamon the king
Be Hercules and be th'assent
Of al the hole parlement
Was at his wille gove and granted.
And thus hath Grece Troie danted,
And hom thei torne in such manere.
Bot after this nou schalt thou hiere
The cause why this tale I telle,
Upon the chances that befelle.
King Lamedon, which deide thus,
He hadde a sone, on Priamus,
Which was noght thilke time at hom.
Bot whan he herde of this, he com
And fond hou the cité was falle,
Which he began anon to walle
And made ther a cité newe,
That thei whiche othre londes knewe
Tho seiden, that of lym and ston
In al the world so fair was non.
And on that o side of the toun
The king let maken Ylioun,
That hihe tour, that stronge place,
Which was adrad of no manace
Of quarel nor of non engin;
And thogh men wolde make a myn,
No mannes craft it mihte aproche,
For it was sett upon a roche.
The walles of the toun aboute,
Hem stod of al the world no doute,
And after the proporcion
Sex gates weren of the toun
Of such a forme, of such entaile,
That hem to se was gret mervaile.
The diches weren brode and depe;
A fewe men it mihte kepe
From al the world, as semeth tho,
Bot if the goddes weren fo.
Gret presse unto that cité drouh,
So that ther was of poeple ynouh,
Of burgeis that therinne duellen;
Ther mai no mannes tunge tellen
Hou that cité was riche of good.
Whan al was mad and al wel stod,
King Priamus tho him bethoghte
What thei of Grece whilom wroghte,
And what was of her swerd devoured,
And hou his soster deshonoured
With Thelamon awey was lad.
And so thenkende he wax unglad,
And sette anon a parlement,
To which the lordes were assent.
In many a wise ther was spoke,
Hou that thei mihten ben awroke,
Bot ate laste natheles
Thei seiden alle, 'Acord and pes.'
To setten either part in reste
It thoghte hem thanne for the beste
With resonable amendement;
And thus was Antenor forth sent
To axe Esionam agein
And witen what thei wolden sein.
So passeth he the see be barge
To Grece for to seie his charge,
The which he seide redely
Unto the lordes by and by:
Bot where he spak in Grece aboute,
He herde noght bot wordes stoute,
And nameliche of Thelamon;
The maiden wolde he noght forgon,
He seide, for no maner thing,
And bad him gon hom to his king,
For there gat he non amende
For oght he couthe do or sende.
This Anthenor agein goth hom
Unto his king, and whan he com,
He tolde in Grece of that he herde,
And hou that Thelamon ansuerde,
And hou thei were at here above,
That thei wol nouther pes ne love,
Bot every man schal don his beste.
Bot for men sein that nyht hath reste,
The king bethoghte him al that nyht,
And erli, whan the dai was lyht,
He tok conseil of this matiere,
And thei acorde in this manere,
That he withouten eny lette
A certein time scholde sette
Of parlement to ben avised.
And in the wise it was devised,
Of parlement he sette a day,
And that was in the monthe of Maii.
This Priamus hadde in his yhte
A wif, and Hecuba sche hyhte,
Be whom that time ek hadde he
Of sones fyve, and douhtres thre
Besiden hem, and thritty mo,
And weren knyhtes alle tho,
Bot noght upon his wif begete,
Bot elles where he myhte hem gete
Of wommen whiche he hadde knowe.
Such was the world at thilke throwe,
So that he was of children riche,
As therof was no man his liche.
Of parlement the dai was come,
Ther ben the lordes alle and some;
Tho was pronounced and pourposed,
And al the cause hem was desclosed,
Hou Anthenor in Grece ferde.
Thei seten alle stille and herde,
And tho spak every man aboute.
Ther was alegged many a doute,
And many a proud word spoke also;
Bot for the moste part as tho
Thei wisten noght what was the beste,
Or for to werre or for to reste.
Bot he that was withoute fere,
Hector, among the lordes there
His tale tolde in such a wise,
And seide, 'Lordes, ye ben wise,
Ye knowen this als wel as I,
Above all othre most worthi
Stant nou in Grece the manhode
Of worthinesse and of knihthode;
For who so wole it wel agrope,
To hem belongeth al Europe,
Which is the thridde parti evene
Of al the world under the hevene;
And we be bot of folk a fewe.
So were it reson for to schewe
The peril, er we falle thrinne.
Betre is to leve, than beginne
Thing which as mai noght ben achieved;
He is noght wys that fint him grieved,
And doth so that his grief be more.
For who that loketh al tofore
And wol noght se what is behinde,
He mai fulofte hise harmes finde:
Wicke is to stryve and have the worse.
We have encheson for to corse,
This wot I wel, and for to hate
The Greks; bot er that we debate
With hem that ben of such a myht,
It is ful good that every wiht
Be of himself riht wel bethoght.
Bot as for me this seie I noght;
For while that mi lif wol stonde,
If that ye taken werre on honde,
Falle it to beste or to the werste,
I schal miselven be the ferste
To grieven hem, what evere I may.
I wol noght ones seie nay
To thing which that youre conseil demeth,
For unto me wel more it quemeth
The werre certes than the pes;
Bot this I seie natheles,
As me belongeth for to seie.
Nou schape ye the beste weie.'
Whan Hector hath seid his avis,
Next after him tho spak Paris,
Which was his brother, and alleide
What him best thoghte, and thus he seide:
'Strong thing it is to soffre wrong,
And suffre schame is more strong,
Bot we have suffred bothe tuo;
And for al that yit have we do
What so we mihte to reforme
The pes, whan we in such a forme
Sente Anthenor, as ye wel knowe.
And thei here grete wordes blowe
Upon her wrongful dedes eke;
And who that wole himself noght meke
To pes, and list no reson take,
Men sein reson him wol forsake.
For in the multitude of men
Is noght the strengthe, for with ten
It hath be sen in trew querele
Agein an hundred false dele,
And had the betre of Goddes grace.
This hath befalle in many place;
And if it like unto you alle,
I wole assaie, hou so it falle,
Oure enemis if I mai grieve;
For I have cawht a gret believe
Upon a point I wol declare.
This ender day, as I gan fare
To hunte unto the grete hert,
Which was tofore myn houndes stert,
And every man went on his syde
Him to poursuie, and I to ryde
Began the chace, and soth to seie,
Withinne a while out of mi weie
I rod, and nyste where I was.
And slep me cauhte, and on the gras
Beside a welle I lay me doun
To slepe, and in a visioun
To me the god Mercurie cam;
Goddesses thre with him he nam,
Minerve, Venus, and Juno,
And in his hond an appel tho
He hield of gold with lettres write.
And this he dede me to wite,
Hou that thei putt hem upon me,
That to the faireste of hem thre
Of gold that appel scholde I give.
With ech of hem tho was I schrive,
And ech on faire me behihte.
Bot Venus seide, if that sche mihte
That appel of mi gifte gete,
Sche wolde it neveremor forgete,
And seide hou that in Grece lond
Sche wolde bringe unto myn hond
Of al this erthe the faireste;
So that me thoghte it for the beste,
To hire and gaf that appel tho.
Thus hope I wel, if that I go,
That sche for me wol so ordeine,
That thei matiere for to pleigne
Schul have, er that I come agein.
Nou have ye herd that I wol sein.
Sey ye what stant in youre avis.'
And every man tho seide his,
And sundri causes thei recorde,
Bot ate laste thei acorde
That Paris schal to Grece wende,
And thus the parlement tok ende.
Cassandra, whan sche herde of this,
The which to Paris soster is,
Anon sche gan to wepe and weile,
And seide, 'Allas, what mai ous eile?
Fortune with hire blinde whiel
Ne wol noght lete ous stonde wel.
For this I dar wel undertake,
That if Paris his weie take,
As it is seid that he schal do,
We ben forevere thanne undo.'
This, which Cassandre thanne hihte,
In al the world as it berth sihte,
In bokes as men finde write,
Is that Sibille of whom ye wite,
That alle men yit clepen sage.
Whan that sche wiste of this viage,
Hou Paris schal to Grece fare,
No womman mihte worse fare
Ne sorwe more than sche dede;
And riht so in the same stede
Ferde Helenus, which was hir brother,
Of prophecie and such another.
And al was holde bot a jape,
So that the pourpos which was schape,
Or were hem lief or were hem loth,
Was holde, and into Grece goth
This Paris with his retenance.
And as it fell upon his chance,
Of Grece he londeth in an yle,
And him was told the same whyle
Of folk which he began to freyne,
Tho was in th'yle queene Heleyne,
And ek of contres there aboute
Of ladis many a lusti route,
With mochel worthi poeple also.
And why thei comen theder tho,
The cause stod in such a wise:
For worschipe and for sacrifise
That thei to Venus wolden make,
As thei tofore hadde undertake,
Some of good will, some of beheste,
For thanne was hire hihe feste
Withinne a temple which was there.
Whan Paris wiste what thei were,
Anon he schop his ordinance
To gon and don his obeissance
To Venus on hire holi day,
And dede upon his beste aray.
With gret richesse he him behongeth,
As it to such a lord belongeth,
He was noght armed natheles,
Bot as it were in lond of pes,
And thus he goth forth out of schipe
And takth with him his felaschipe.
In such manere as I you seie
Unto the temple he hield his weie.
Tydinge, which goth overal
To grete and smale, forth withal
Com to the queenes ere and tolde
Hou Paris com, and that he wolde
Do sacrifise to Venus:
And whan sche herde telle thus,
She thoghte, hou that it evere be,
That sche wole him abyde and se.
Forth comth Paris with glad visage
Into the temple on pelrinage,
Wher unto Venus the goddesse
He gifth and offreth gret richesse,
And preith hir that he preie wolde.
And thanne aside he gan beholde
And sih wher that this ladi stod;
And he forth in his freisshe mod
Goth ther sche was and made hir chiere,
As he wel couthe in his manere,
That of his wordes such plesance
Sche tok that al hire aqueintance,
Als ferforth as the herte lay,
He stal er that he wente away.
So goth he forth and tok his leve,
And thoghte, anon as it was eve,
He wolde don his Sacrilegge,
That many a man it scholde abegge.
Whan he to schipe agein was come,
To him he hath his conseil nome,
And al devised the matiere
In such a wise as thou schalt hiere.
Withinne nyht al prively
His men he warneth by and by,
That thei be redy armed sone
For certein thing which was to done.
And thei anon ben redi alle,
And ech on other gan to calle,
And went hem out upon the stronde
And tok a pourpos ther alonde
Of what thing that thei wolden do,
Toward the temple and forth thei go.
So fell it, of devocion
Heleine in contemplacion
With many another worthi wiht
Was in the temple and wok al nyht,
To bidde and preie unto th'ymage
Of Venus, as was thanne usage.
So that Paris riht as him liste
Into the temple, er thei it wiste,
Com with his men al sodeinly,
And alle at ones sette ascry
In hem whiche in the temple were,
For tho was mochel poeple there;
Bot of defense was no bote,
So soffren thei that soffre mote.
Paris unto the queene wente,
And hire in bothe hise armes hente
With him and with his felaschipe,
And forth thei bere hire unto schipe.
Up goth the seil and forth thei wente,
And such a wynd fortune hem sente,
Til thei the havene of Troie cauhte;
Where out of schipe anon thei strauhte
And gon hem forth toward the toun,
The which cam with processioun
Agein Paris to sen his preie.
And every man began to seie
To Paris and his felaschipe
Al that thei couthen of worschipe;
Was non so litel man in Troie,
That he ne made merthe and joie
Of that Paris hath wonne Heleine.
Bot al that merthe is sorwe and peine
To Helenus and to Cassaundre;
For thei it token schame and sklaundre
And lost of al the comun grace,
That Paris out of holi place
Be Stelthe hath take a mannes wif,
Wherof that he schal lese his lif
And many a worthi man therto,
And al the cité be fordo,
Which nevere schal be mad agein.
And so it fell, riht as thei sein,
The sacrilege which he wroghte
Was cause why the Gregois soughte
Unto the toun and it beleie,
And wolden nevere parte aweie,
Til what be sleihte and what be strengthe
Thei hadde it wonne in brede and lengthe,
And brent and slayn that was withinne.
Nou se, mi sone, which a sinne
Is Sacrilege in holy stede.
Be war therfore and bidd thi bede,
And do nothing in Holy Cherche,
Bot that thou miht be reson werche.
And ek tak hiede of Achilles,
Whan he unto his love ches
Polixena, that was also
In holi temple of Appollo,
Which was the cause why he dyde
And al his lust was leyd asyde.
And Troilus upon Criseide
Also his ferste love leide
In holi place, and hou it ferde,
As who seith, al the world it herde;
Forsake he was for Diomede,
Such was of love his laste mede.
Forthi, mi sone, I wolde rede,
Be this ensample as thou myht rede,
Sech elles, wher thou wolt, thi grace,
And war thee wel in holi place
What thou to love do or speke,
In aunter if it so be wreke
As thou hast herd me told before.
And tak good hiede also therfore
Upon what forme of Avarice,
Mor than of eny other vice,
I have divided in parties
The branches, whiche of compainies
Thurghout the world in general
Ben nou the leders overal,
Of Covoitise and of Perjure,
Of fals Brocage and of Usure,
Of Skarsnesse and Unkindeschipe,
Which nevere drouh to felaschipe,
Of Robberie and privi Stelthe,
Which don is for the worldes welthe,
Of Ravine and of Sacrilegge,
Which makth the conscience agregge;
Althogh it mai richesse atteigne,
It floureth, bot it schal noght greine
Unto the fruit of rihtwisnesse.
Bot who that wolde do largesse
Upon the reule as it is give,
So myhte a man in trouthe live
Toward his God, and ek also
Toward the world, for bothe tuo
Largesse awaiteth as belongeth,
To neither part that he ne wrongeth;
He kepth himself, he kepth his frendes,
So stant he sauf to bothe hise endes,
That he excedeth no mesure,
So wel he can himself mesure.
Wherof, mi sone, thou schalt wite,
So as the Philosophre hath write."
"Betwen the tuo extremites
Of vice stant the propretes
Of vertu, and to prove it so
Tak Avarice and tak also
The vice of Prodegalité;
Betwen hem Liberalité,
Which is the vertu of Largesse,
Stant and governeth his noblesse.
For tho tuo vices in discord
Stonde evere, as I finde of record;
So that betwen here tuo debat
Largesse reuleth his astat.
For in such wise as Avarice,
As I tofore have told the vice,
Thurgh streit holdinge and thurgh skarsnesse
Stant in contraire to Largesse,
Riht so stant Prodegalité
Revers, bot noght in such degré.
For so as Avarice spareth,
And for to kepe his tresor careth,
That other al his oghne and more
Agein the wise mannes lore
Gifth and despendeth hiere and there,
So that him reccheth nevere where.
While he mai borwe, he wol despende,
Til ate laste he seith, 'I wende';
Bot that is spoken al to late,
For thanne is poverté ate gate
And takth him evene be the slieve,
For erst wol he no wisdom lieve.
And riht as Avarice is sinne,
That wolde his tresor kepe and winne,
Riht so is Prodegalité.
Bot of Largesse in his degré,
Which evene stant betwen the tuo,
The hihe God and man also
The vertu ech of hem commendeth.
For he himselven ferst amendeth,
That overal his name spredeth,
And to alle othre, where it nedeth,
He gifth his good in such a wise,
That he makth many a man arise,
Which elles scholde falle lowe.
Largesce mai noght ben unknowe;
For what lond that he regneth inne,
It mai noght faile for to winne
Thurgh his decerté love and grace,
Wher it schal faile in other place.
And thus betwen to moche and lyte
Largesce, which is noght to wyte,
Halt evere forth the middel weie.
Bot who that torne wole aweie
Fro that to Prodegalité,
Anon he lest the propreté
Of vertu and goth to the vice;
For in such wise as Avarice
Lest for scarsnesse his goode name,
Riht so that other is to blame,
Which thurgh his wast mesure excedeth,
For no man wot what harm that bredeth.
Bot mochel joie ther betydeth,
Wher that largesse an herte guydeth.
For his mesure is so governed,
That he to bothe partz is lerned,
To God and to the world also,
He doth reson to bothe tuo.
The povere folk of his almesse
Relieved ben in the destresse
Of thurst, of hunger and of cold.
The gifte of him was nevere sold,
Bot frely give, and natheles
The myhti God of His encress
Rewardeth him of double grace;
The hevene he doth him to pourchace
And gifth him ek the worldes good.
And thus the cote for the hod
Largesse takth, and yit no sinne
He doth, hou so that evere he winne.
What man hath hors men give him hors,
And who non hath of him no fors,
For he mai thanne on fote go;
The world hath evere stonde so.
Bot for to loken of the tweie,
A man to go the siker weie,
Betre is to give than to take:
With gifte a man mai frendes make,
Bot who that takth or gret or smal,
He takth a charge forth withal,
And stant noght fre til it be quit.
So for to deme in mannes wit,
It helpeth more a man to have
His oghne good, than for to crave
Of othre men and make him bounde,
Wher elles he mai stonde unbounde.
Senec conseileth in this wise,
And seith, 'Bot if thi good suffise
Unto the liking of thi wille,
Withdrawh thi lust and hold thee stille,
And be to thi good sufficant.'
For that thing is appourtenant
To trouthe and causeth to be fre
After the reule of charité,
Which ferst beginneth of himselve.
For if thou richest othre tuelve,
Wherof thou schalt thiself be povere,
I not what thonk thou miht recovere.
Whil that a man hath good to give,
With grete routes he mai live
And hath his frendes overal,
And everich of him telle schal.
Therwhile he hath his fulle packe,
Thei seie, 'A good felawe is Jacke';
Bot whanne it faileth ate laste,
Anon his pris thei overcaste,
For thanne is ther non other lawe
Bot, 'Jacke was a good felawe.'
Whan thei him povere and nedy se,
Thei lete him passe and farwel he;
Al that he wende of compainie
Is thanne torned to folie.
Bot nou to speke in other kinde
Of love, a man mai suche finde,
That wher thei come in every route
Thei caste and waste her love aboute,
Til al here time is overgon,
And thanne have thei love non.
For who that loveth overal,
It is no reson that he schal
Of love have eny propreté.
Forthi, mi sone, avise thee
If thou of love hast be to large,
For such a man is noght to charge:
And if it so be that thou hast
Despended al thi time in wast
And set thi love in sondri place,
Though thou the substance of thi grace
Lese ate laste, it is no wonder;
For he that put himselven under,
As who seith, comun overal,
He lest the love special
Of eny on, if sche be wys.
For love schal noght bere his pris
Be reson, whanne it passeth on.
So have I sen ful many on,
That were of love wel at ese,
Whiche after felle in gret desese
Thurgh wast of love, that thei spente
In sondri places wher thei wente.
Riht so, mi sone, I axe of thee
If thou with Prodegalité
Hast hier and ther thi love wasted."
"Mi fader, nay; bot I have tasted
In many a place as I have go,
And yit love I nevere on of tho,
Bot for to drive forth the dai.
For lieveth wel, myn herte is ay
Withoute mo foreveremore
Al upon on, for I no more
Desire bot hire love alone.
So make I many a privé mone,
For wel I fiele I have despended
Mi longe love and noght amended
Mi sped, for oght I finde yit.
If this be wast to youre wit
Of love, and Prodegalité,
Nou, goode fader, demeth ye:
Bot of o thing I wol me schryve,
That I schal for no love thryve,
Bot if hirself me wol relieve."
"Mi sone, that I mai wel lieve.
And natheles me semeth so,
For oght that thou hast yit misdo
Of time which thou hast despended,
It mai with grace ben amended.
For thing which mai be worth the cost
Per chaunce is nouther wast ne lost;
For what thing stant on aventure,
That can no worldes creature
Tell in certein hou it schal wende,
Til he therof mai sen an ende.
So that I not as yit therfore
If thou, mi sone, hast wonne or lore.
For ofte time, as it is sene,
Whan somer hath lost al his grene
And is with wynter wast and bare,
That him is left nothing to spare,
Al is recovered in a throwe.
The colde wyndes overblowe,
And stille be the scharpe schoures,
And soudeinliche agein his floures
The somer hapneth and is riche.
And so per cas thi graces liche,
Mi sone, thogh thou be nou povere
Of love, yit thou miht recovere."
"Mi fader, certes grant merci.
Ye have me tawht so redeli,
That evere whil I live schal
The betre I mai be war withal
Of thing which ye have seid er this.
Bot overmore hou that it is,
Toward mi schrifte as it belongeth,
To wite of othre pointz me longeth;
Wherof that ye me wolden teche
With al myn herte I you beseche."
First when our God on high began
This world, and his creation, man,
Had not in numbers greatly grown,
No strife for worldly goods was known,
But all things were in common held,
And none to fortunes were impelled,
Or thought in terms of lose or win,
Till Avarice brought all that in;
That happened when the numbers grew
Of man, of horse, of ox, of ewe.
And when men money did invent.
Then peace out of the window went,
And wars erupted every where
Which caused men to all love forswear
And to all things they see, lay claim,
So that instead of tools, to maim
And kill they manufacture blades
And so they put up barricades,
And in the earth dug ditches deep,
And built high walls wherewith to keep
The gold which Avarice surrounds.
In things that pass, his faith he grounds,
Though all the world he might acquire;
And of those things he may desire
Of gold, of cattle, or of land,
He'd never let out of his hand,
But more acquire and hold it fast
As though things would forever last.
And so he is like unto hell:
For it is as the scriptures tell,
What comes therein, both gold and clay,
That's where it shall forever stay.
So when his coffer has been sealed,
His horde shall only be revealed
When he desires to have a sight
Of all his gold, that shines so bright,
So that he thereupon may stare.
For otherwise he does not dare
To use the smallest part. So he,
Though rich, remains in poverty,
And though he has enough, he's now
Just like an ox that pulls the plow,
But from it does no profit gain;
Sheep have like reason to complain
They grow their wool, but then one day
Another takes the fleece away.
He owns what he may not take, as
He cannot have that which he has.
To say that such a man has stuff,
Whoever has good sense enough,
Will see that that is just not right,
For stuff has him, and holds him tight,
And none of it affords him pleasure,
There's no joy in all his treasure;
As a subject thus serves he
Whereas he should the master be.
The avaricious are like this.
My son, since thou art one to kiss
The ladies, tell me how you fare.
Not good, My father, but I bear
No weight of avarice; it seems
With love I'm only rich in dreams.
In terms of what you have addressed,
I've never fully love possessed
In all my life up to this time,
So I don't think that for the crime
Of avarice I could be held.
But without fear I'd be compelled,
If I that treasure ever gained,
To make sure it would be retained,
For I would hold it close indeed
Until the god of love decreed
That death should sever us. For know
That I do truly love her so
That even if it cost my life,
If I that sweet attractive wife
Might bend unto my will at last,
Forever I would hold her fast.
And would be certain, in this way
That from me she would never stray:
I'd not one day from her abstain,
So that her loyalty I'd gain.
Fie on the money bags they kiss!
For me, I only need my miss.
For if her I could only hold,
I'd want that more than mines of gold.
Of all the worldly riches none
Can make me near as rich as one
Who is as virtuous as she.
All other wealth is not for me,
For if I could have such a thing,
I'd have a treasure of a king;
And then if I could hold it fast,
I would have wealth untold amassed.
But I must be content, I guess,
Against my will to live with less.
Though if I had my way I would
Be avaricious, if I could.
But father, I just heard you say,
One avaricious has some way
Whereby he may be glad, for he
Whenever he desires may see
His treasure, which he'll grope and feel,
But I'm shut out, for there's a seal
That keeps my valued treasure closed.
My life's condition you disclosed,
When you portrayed how oxen bear
The burden of a yoke, when there
Is nothing in it for their weal.
This well describes my own ordeal;
Compared to those with health and ease,
I'm poor and riddled with disease,
I can't possess that which I crave,
For I am, as they say, love's knave.
I'll let you tell me whether this
Might be a form of avarice."
"My son, for you I'm not concerned,
Though your affections have been turned
Away, with love that's oft the case;
But as is taught in every place,
It unto man no pleasure brings
To seek for more than basic things,
For love of gold shall him ensnare,
Which only does with reason square.
And avarice shall then take hold,
So that if a large horde of gold
He gets, that will he keep and serve,
From his one goal he will not swerve,
To fill his bags all to the brim;
And all is but a cost for him,
For with no portion will he part
But keeps it all close to his heart.
Thus though his gold he multiplies
With all of it he nothing buys,
And man's life it will not augment
Lest it for other things is spent
On man's use; whereof I shall read
A tale, and take thereof good heed,
Of what took place in times of old,
As Ovid in his treatise told.
Tale of Midas
The god of wine, as Bacchus known,
As a divinity, his own
Attendant priest had, Who was named
Silenus; and one night inflamed
With drunkenness he lost his way,
Some evil men in wait did lay
In Friesland, which is where he went
And there a churl on evil bent,
With cohorts grabbed him; and since he
Was drunk, so he could not get free
With chains they bound his hands and feet,
And quickly ushered him to meet
The king, who was as Midas known.
But he, who would his vice not own,
This kind king on him mercy took,
Commanding them that they should look
For someplace that he could be kept
Until in quiet he had slept.
And so this priest was then unbound,
And on a couch up off the ground
To sleep in comfort he was laid
And when he woke, this good king bade
That he come and be entertained,
And thus this priest could, unrestrained,
As long as he desired, there dwell.
All this to Bacchus he did tell
When he returned, with him to stay.
And so when Bacchus heard him say
How Midas had so thoughtful been
He thought that it would be a sin,
If his deed earned him no reward,
And so this mighty god and lord
To this unselfish king appeared
And spoke, as others heard and cheered:
"Midas, I think it's only right
Since you looked kindly on the plight
Of this poor priest, that you should say
What you desire most, and this day
Your greatest wish I shall fulfill."
This king was glad, and stood real still,
To cogitate on his request,
Determining what would the best
In all the world for him to ask;
He found this was no easy task
To choose that one among three things
Which unto man the most joy brings.
The first is pleasure with a dame;
The next is profit, then acclaim.
And then he thought, "If for a dish
Of lust I hunger, then my wish
Will fade when I'm too old for it.
That has no lasting benefit,
For every bodily delight
Shall end in woe: and so that blight
I will not choose. And if great fame
I ask for of the world, the same
Is but a fleeting fool's pursuit,
The proud imagination's fruit.
Which leads to vanity within;
There is no certain way to win,
For lord and knave the same route ply,
From when they're born, to when they die.
And if for riches I would ask
I think it would be quite a task
To make sure that they were secure
For every thief, you can be sure,
Would lie in wait to rob or steal:
Such wealth could cause a sad ordeal.
And also, though a monarch gains,
Of all the kingdom where he reigns,
Whatever treasure he desired
He still has only what's required,
For his own use, or so I think,
Of clothing and of meat and drink;
Except for vanity, no more
Has any lord a good use for."
His mind among these three points wanders,
As he variously ponders
Which path would for him be best;
And he can't put his mind at rest
By settling on a certain course.
But nonetheless he chose perforce
On precious gold to set his eye;
And then, his choice to justify,
He thought, as I have said before
How gold is very hard to store;
Concerning how it could be made,
Secure, he much attention paid,
So that his choice the gold to get
Might not be one that he'd regret.
Gold's praises in his heart he sings
How more than any other things
It is the one that weighs the most.
"Gold", he exclaims, "may lead a host
To wage a war against a king;
Down he can cast most any thing,
Then, when he will, set it above;
Gold can transform hate into love,
And peace to war, and right to wrong,
And long to short and short to long;
Without gold there can be no feast,
Gold is the lord of man and beast,
And both of them may buy and sell;
So that a man may truly tell
That all the world does gold obey."
Thus did this king to Bacchus pray
To grant him gold, but he exceeds
By far that which he really needs.
Men say the malady accursed
Which men describe as chronic thirst,
This vice resembles, that we know
As Avarice. It makes men grow
More thirsty with each drink they take,
The more they try their thirst to slake,
The more they think that never will
They manage to obtain their fill
Of that which they've so much desired.
And Avarice is likewise mired,
And always has been, in this plight.
More worldly goods will just incite
A need in him to hold his store
More closely, and to covet more.
Accordingly, as to this thing,
Without discretion was this king
With Avarice so smitten, all
The world knew he was in its thrall,
For unto Bacchus he then prayed,
On whatsoe'er his hand he laid,
It should then through his touch anon
Turn into gold, and thereupon
This god his wish unto him gave.
And having now what he did crave,
To try it out he could not wait
And so with haste, his greed to sate,
He picks up this and that to hold,
And everything turns into gold,
The leaf, the grass, the fruit, the stone,
All gold became, to grace his throne.
He kept on touching things until
From hunger he was nearly ill;
That of which he was most in need
Was food upon which he could feed.
The cloth was laid, the table graced
With food that was before him placed,
His dish, his cup, his drink, his meat;
But when he tried to drink or eat,
Whatever to his mouth came near,
Turned into gold, then it was clear
That Avarice could make him die.
And with that he began to cry,
And prayed that Bacchus might forgive
His guilt, and suffer him to live
Just like he was before, that he
Might from starvation's grip be free.
This god, who was by mercy swayed
At his sincere repentance, bade
This king to go and be made whole
Unto the river Paceole,
Which not too far away flowed by,
Wherein he thoroughly should try
His body to completely clean,
And said he then could touch cuisine
And eat it as he did before,
The king at once ran out the door;
Into the river he did go,
To wash himself from head to toe
Not overlooking any place,
To make sure he would merit grace.
He then observed a marvel strange,
The riverbed began to change
In color, as the stones thereon
Appeared to turn all gold anon,
And his affliction disappeared,
As fate for him a new course steered.
And when he saw his touch was gone,
He went right home to carry on
As he had been, and from that day
He put all Avarice away,
Gold's riches he thought overpriced,
And said that food and clothes sufficed.
Thus from experience he learns
That he is but a fool who yearns
For gold, which when compared to rinds
Is worth a lot less to mankind's
Requirement for food to eat.
And then made laws that were replete
With common sense. And his command
Was that his people till their land,
And always act in lawful ways,
And that they should their livestock raise,
And never seek to grow their store
Of gold which is the source of war.
For this is written, as we find,
Before the time when gold was mined
And coins were struck, no men did cheat,
There was no fraud and no deceit.
Then were there neither shield nor spears
To fatten wars' rich financiers;
Then was the town without a wall,
Which now is closed, with towers tall;
Then brokerage was no concern,
With usurers at every turn.
The florin, as men now can see,
Was mother of all treachery
And is of war the focal point,
Whereof this world is out of joint
Through Avarice's iron rule,
Which never does run out of fuel
To stoke the fires of greed; like hell
Its legions will forever swell,
For whosoever comes therein
His freedom he may never win.
But, son of mine, don't do the same.
Do not let Avarice inflame,
But be content with your own lot.
Be frugal, and do not be caught
Contributing more than your share;
But if by chance your are aware
Of one who's fallen into need,
Give what you can, for this I read
To him who gives not while he's here,
Shall elsewhere suffer pain, I fear.
Punishment of Tantalus
There is a pain, the worst of all
I hell below, one which men call
The woeful pain of Tantaly
Concerning which I'll make you see
How men to that fate are assigned.
In hell, as you shall see, we find
A flood that has the role to play
Of making greedy sinners pay:
Whatever man shall stand therein,
The water comes up to his chin;
And up above his head there hangs
A fruit designed to cause him pangs
And that fruit always touches on
His upper lip, which thereupon
Great thirst and hunger does excite,
That never sates his appetite.
For when he would his hunger feed,
The fruit withdraws and foils his need,
And though his head may rise and sway
The fruit moves just as far away,
So that his hunger only grows;
And also, though great thirst he knows
And to the water down he bows,
The flood recedes, and thus allows
No water near those lips of his.
Lo such wretched man he is,
So close to food and drink, yet he
Refreshed by them can never be!
Just like the pains he suffers here,
Are Avarice's pains, I fear.
He has enough and yet cannot,
Be satisfied with what he's got,
And alway hungers for more stuff.
Since he can never get enough,
He always is in agony.
So you should always try to be,
My son, one who can freely give
To charity, that you may live
In heaven, when this earth you leave.
And if you would that men should grieve
When you are gone, then you must use
Munificence; if you refuse
To give, for love of self, then there
No reason is that men should care
To give the love you crave to you.
Therefore, you must be gracious too,
If you from others would have grace.
And Avarice must have no place,
Feared more than any other thing;
Of Midas that most greedy king,
And also of the flood in hell,
Be warned, and take heed very well.
For although there were nothing more
Than what we've covered heretofore,
The sin of Avarice should we
Eschew, for those men whom we see
Trapped in the vice get little rest
For thought the boy rests, their quest
For gold, no sleep allows the heart,
Who many a nigh wakes with a start;
For though he lies asleep in bed,
His heart from somnolence is fled,
And dreaming, in a fitful sleep,
Of what the best way is to keep
His treasure safe from thieving stealth.
Thus he has but a woeful wealth.