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Confessio Amantis

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CONFESSIO AMANTIS

or

TALES OF THE SEVEN DEADLY SINS

By John Gower, 1330-1408 A.D.

The following electronic text is based on that edition published
in THE WORKS OF JOHN GOWER, ed. Prof. G.C. Macauley.

This electronic text was edited and proofed by Douglas B. Killings
(DeTroyes@AOL.COM), September 1994.

Additional assistance provided by Diane M. Brendan.

CONFESSIO AMANTIS

or

TALES OF THE SEVEN DEADLY SINS

By John Gower, 1330-1408 A.D.

Prologus

Torpor, ebes sensus, scola parua labor minimusque
Causant quo minimus ipse minora canam:
Qua tamen Engisti lingua canit Insula Bruti
Anglica Carmente metra iuuante loquar.
Ossibus ergo carens que conterit ossa loquelis
Absit, et interpres stet procul oro malus.

Of hem that writen ous tofore
The bokes duelle, and we therfore
Ben tawht of that was write tho:
Forthi good is that we also
In oure tyme among ous hiere
Do wryte of newe som matiere,
Essampled of these olde wyse
So that it myhte in such a wyse,
Whan we ben dede and elleswhere,
Beleve to the worldes eere 10
In tyme comende after this.
Bot for men sein, and soth it is,
That who that al of wisdom writ
It dulleth ofte a mannes wit
To him that schal it aldai rede,
For thilke cause, if that ye rede,
I wolde go the middel weie
And wryte a bok betwen the tweie,
Somwhat of lust, somewhat of lore,
That of the lasse or of the more 20
Som man mai lyke of that I wryte:
And for that fewe men endite
In oure englissh, I thenke make
A bok for Engelondes sake,
The yer sextenthe of kyng Richard.
What schal befalle hierafterward
God wot, for now upon this tyde
Men se the world on every syde
In sondry wyse so diversed,
That it welnyh stant al reversed, 30
As forto speke of tyme ago.
The cause whi it changeth so
It needeth nought to specifie,
The thing so open is at ije
That every man it mai beholde:
And natheles be daies olde,
Whan that the bokes weren levere,
Wrytinge was beloved evere
Of hem that weren vertuous;
For hier in erthe amonges ous, 40
If noman write hou that it stode,
The pris of hem that weren goode
Scholde, as who seith, a gret partie
Be lost: so for to magnifie
The worthi princes that tho were,
The bokes schewen hiere and there,
Wherof the world ensampled is;
And tho that deden thanne amis
Thurgh tirannie and crualte,
Right as thei stoden in degre, 50
So was the wrytinge of here werk.
Thus I, which am a burel clerk,
Purpose forto wryte a bok
After the world that whilom tok
Long tyme in olde daies passed:
Bot for men sein it is now lassed,
In worse plit than it was tho,
I thenke forto touche also
The world which neweth every dai,
So as I can, so as I mai. 60
Thogh I seknesse have upon honde
And longe have had, yit woll I fonde
To wryte and do my bisinesse,
That in som part, so as I gesse,
The wyse man mai ben avised.
For this prologe is so assised
That it to wisdom al belongeth:
What wysman that it underfongeth,
He schal drawe into remembrance
The fortune of this worldes chance, 70
The which noman in his persone
Mai knowe, bot the god al one.
Whan the prologe is so despended,
This bok schal afterward ben ended
Of love, which doth many a wonder
And many a wys man hath put under.
And in this wyse I thenke trete
Towardes hem that now be grete,
Betwen the vertu and the vice
Which longeth unto this office. 80
Bot for my wittes ben to smale
To tellen every man his tale,
This bok, upon amendment
To stonde at his commandement,
With whom myn herte is of accord,
I sende unto myn oghne lord,
Which of Lancastre is Henri named:
The hyhe god him hath proclamed
Ful of knyhthode and alle grace.
So woll I now this werk embrace 90
With hol trust and with hol believe;
God grante I mot it wel achieve.
If I schal drawe in to my mynde
The tyme passed, thanne I fynde
The world stod thanne in al his welthe:
Tho was the lif of man in helthe,
Tho was plente, tho was richesse,
Tho was the fortune of prouesse,
Tho was knyhthode in pris be name,
Wherof the wyde worldes fame 100
Write in Cronique is yit withholde;
Justice of lawe tho was holde,
The privilege of regalie
Was sauf, and al the baronie
Worschiped was in his astat;
The citees knewen no debat,
The poeple stod in obeissance
Under the reule of governance,
And pes, which ryhtwisnesse keste,
With charite tho stod in reste: 110
Of mannes herte the corage
Was schewed thanne in the visage;
The word was lich to the conceite
Withoute semblant of deceite:
Tho was ther unenvied love,
Tho was the vertu sett above
And vice was put under fote.
Now stant the crop under the rote,
The world is changed overal,
And therof most in special 120
That love is falle into discord.
And that I take to record
Of every lond for his partie
The comun vois, which mai noght lie;
Noght upon on, bot upon alle
It is that men now clepe and calle,
And sein the regnes ben divided,
In stede of love is hate guided,
The werre wol no pes purchace,
And lawe hath take hire double face, 130
So that justice out of the weie
With ryhtwisnesse is gon aweie:
And thus to loke on every halve,
Men sen the sor withoute salve,
Which al the world hath overtake.
Ther is no regne of alle outtake,
For every climat hath his diel
After the tornynge of the whiel,
Which blinde fortune overthroweth;
Wherof the certain noman knoweth: 140
The hevene wot what is to done,
Bot we that duelle under the mone
Stonde in this world upon a weer,
And namely bot the pouer
Of hem that ben the worldes guides
With good consail on alle sides
Be kept upriht in such a wyse,
That hate breke noght thassise
Of love, which is al the chief
To kepe a regne out of meschief. 150
For alle resoun wolde this,
That unto him which the heved is
The membres buxom scholden bowe,
And he scholde ek her trowthe allowe,
With al his herte and make hem chiere,
For good consail is good to hiere.
Althogh a man be wys himselve,
Yit is the wisdom more of tuelve;
And if thei stoden bothe in on,
To hope it were thanne anon 160
That god his grace wolde sende
To make of thilke werre an ende,
Which every day now groweth newe:
And that is gretly forto rewe
In special for Cristes sake,
Which wolde his oghne lif forsake
Among the men to yeve pes.
But now men tellen natheles
That love is fro the world departed,
So stant the pes unevene parted 170
With hem that liven now adaies.
Bot forto loke at alle assaies,
To him that wolde resoun seche
After the comun worldes speche
It is to wondre of thilke werre,
In which non wot who hath the werre;
For every lond himself deceyveth
And of desese his part receyveth,
And yet ne take men no kepe.
Bot thilke lord which al may kepe, 180
To whom no consail may ben hid,
Upon the world which is betid,
Amende that wherof men pleigne
With trewe hertes and with pleine,
And reconcile love ayeyn,
As he which is king sovereign
Of al the worldes governaunce,
And of his hyhe porveaunce
Afferme pes betwen the londes
And take her cause into hise hondes, 190
So that the world may stonde apppesed
And his godhede also be plesed.
To thenke upon the daies olde,
The lif of clerkes to beholde,
Men sein how that thei weren tho
Ensample and reule of alle tho
Whiche of wisdom the vertu soughten.
Unto the god ferst thei besoughten
As to the substaunce of her Scole,
That thei ne scholden noght befole 200
Her wit upon none erthly werkes,
Which were ayein thestat of clerkes,
And that thei myhten fle the vice
Which Simon hath in his office,
Wherof he takth the gold in honde.
For thilke tyme I understonde
The Lumbard made non eschange
The bisschopriches forto change,
Ne yet a lettre for to sende
For dignite ne for Provende, 210
Or cured or withoute cure.
The cherche keye in aventure
Of armes and of brygantaille
Stod nothing thanne upon bataille;
To fyhte or for to make cheste
It thoghte hem thanne noght honeste;
Bot of simplesce and pacience
Thei maden thanne no defence:
The Court of worldly regalie
To hem was thanne no baillie; 220
The vein honour was noght desired,
Which hath the proude herte fyred;
Humilite was tho withholde,
And Pride was a vice holde.
Of holy cherche the largesse
Yaf thanne and dede gret almesse
To povere men that hadden nede:
Thei were ek chaste in word and dede,
Wherof the poeple ensample tok;
Her lust was al upon the bok, 230
Or forto preche or forto preie,
To wisse men the ryhte weie
Of suche as stode of trowthe unliered.
Lo, thus was Petres barge stiered
Of hem that thilke tyme were,
And thus cam ferst to mannes Ere
The feith of Crist and alle goode
Thurgh hem that thanne weren goode
And sobre and chaste and large and wyse.
Bot now men sein is otherwise, 240
Simon the cause hath undertake,
The worldes swerd on honde is take;
And that is wonder natheles,
Whan Crist him self hath bode pes
And set it in his testament,
How now that holy cherche is went,
Of that here lawe positif
Hath set to make werre and strif
For worldes good, which may noght laste.
God wot the cause to the laste 250
Of every right and wrong also;
But whil the lawe is reuled so
That clerkes to the werre entende,
I not how that thei scholde amende
The woful world in othre thinges,
To make pes betwen the kynges
After the lawe of charite,
Which is the propre duete
Belongende unto the presthode.
Bot as it thenkth to the manhode, 260
The hevene is ferr, the world is nyh,
And veine gloire is ek so slyh,
Which coveitise hath now withholde,
That thei non other thing beholde,
Bot only that thei myhten winne.
And thus the werres thei beginne,
Wherof the holi cherche is taxed,
That in the point as it is axed
The disme goth to the bataille,
As thogh Crist myhte noght availe 270
To don hem riht be other weie.
In to the swerd the cherche keie
Is torned, and the holy bede
Into cursinge, and every stede
Which scholde stonde upon the feith
And to this cause an Ere leyth,
Astoned is of the querele.
That scholde be the worldes hele
Is now, men sein, the pestilence
Which hath exiled pacience 280
Fro the clergie in special:
And that is schewed overal,
In eny thing whan thei ben grieved.
Bot if Gregoire be believed,
As it is in the bokes write,
He doth ous somdel forto wite
The cause of thilke prelacie,
Wher god is noght of compaignie:
For every werk as it is founded
Schal stonde or elles be confounded; 290
Who that only for Cristes sake
Desireth cure forto take,
And noght for pride of thilke astat,
To bere a name of a prelat,
He schal be resoun do profit
In holy cherche upon the plit
That he hath set his conscience;
Bot in the worldes reverence
Ther ben of suche manie glade,
Whan thei to thilke astat ben made, 300
Noght for the merite of the charge,
Bot for thei wolde hemself descharge
Of poverte and become grete;
And thus for Pompe and for beyete
The Scribe and ek the Pharisee
Of Moises upon the See
In the chaiere on hyh ben set;
Wherof the feith is ofte let,
Which is betaken hem to kepe.
In Cristes cause alday thei slepe, 310
Bot of the world is noght foryete;
For wel is him that now may gete
Office in Court to ben honoured.
The stronge coffre hath al devoured
Under the keye of avarice
The tresor of the benefice,
Wherof the povere schulden clothe
And ete and drinke and house bothe;
The charite goth al unknowe,
For thei no grein of Pite sowe: 320
And slouthe kepeth the libraire
Which longeth to the Saintuaire;
To studie upon the worldes lore
Sufficeth now withoute more;
Delicacie his swete toth
Hath fostred so that it fordoth
Of abstinence al that ther is.
And forto loken over this,
If Ethna brenne in the clergie,
Al openly to mannes ije 330
At Avynoun thexperience
Therof hath yove an evidence,
Of that men sen hem so divided.
And yit the cause is noght decided;
Bot it is seid and evere schal,
Betwen tuo Stoles lyth the fal,
Whan that men wenen best to sitte:
In holy cherche of such a slitte
Is for to rewe un to ous alle;
God grante it mote wel befalle 340
Towardes him which hath the trowthe.
Bot ofte is sen that mochel slowthe,
Whan men ben drunken of the cuppe,
Doth mochel harm, whan fyr is uppe,
Bot if somwho the flamme stanche;
And so to speke upon this branche,
Which proud Envie hath mad to springe,
Of Scisme, causeth forto bringe
This newe Secte of Lollardie,
And also many an heresie 350
Among the clerkes in hemselve.
It were betre dike and delve
And stonde upon the ryhte feith,
Than knowe al that the bible seith
And erre as somme clerkes do.
Upon the hond to were a Schoo
And sette upon the fot a Glove
Acordeth noght to the behove
Of resonable mannes us:
If men behielden the vertus 360
That Crist in Erthe taghte here,
Thei scholden noght in such manere,
Among hem that ben holden wise,
The Papacie so desguise
Upon diverse eleccioun,
Which stant after thaffeccioun
Of sondry londes al aboute:
Bot whan god wole, it schal were oute,
For trowthe mot stonde ate laste.
Bot yet thei argumenten faste 370
Upon the Pope and his astat,
Wherof thei falle in gret debat;
This clerk seith yee, that other nay,
And thus thei dryve forth the day,
And ech of hem himself amendeth
Of worldes good, bot non entendeth
To that which comun profit were.
Thei sein that god is myhti there,
And schal ordeine what he wile,
Ther make thei non other skile 380
Where is the peril of the feith,
Bot every clerk his herte leith
To kepe his world in special,
And of the cause general,
Which unto holy cherche longeth,
Is non of hem that underfongeth
To schapen eny resistence:
And thus the riht hath no defence,
Bot ther I love, ther I holde.
Lo, thus tobroke is Cristes folde, 390
Wherof the flock withoute guide
Devoured is on every side,
In lacke of hem that ben unware
Schepherdes, whiche her wit beware
Upon the world in other halve.
The scharpe pricke in stede of salve
Thei usen now, wherof the hele
Thei hurte of that thei scholden hele;
And what Schep that is full of wulle
Upon his back, thei toose and pulle, 400
Whil ther is eny thing to pile:
And thogh ther be non other skile
Bot only for thei wolden wynne,
Thei leve noght, whan thei begynne,
Upon her acte to procede,
Which is no good schepherdes dede.
And upon this also men sein,
That fro the leese which is plein
Into the breres thei forcacche
Her Orf, for that thei wolden lacche 410
With such duresce, and so bereve
That schal upon the thornes leve
Of wulle, which the brere hath tore;
Wherof the Schep ben al totore
Of that the hierdes make hem lese.
Lo, how thei feignen chalk for chese,
For though thei speke and teche wel,
Thei don hemself therof no del:
For if the wolf come in the weie,
Her gostly Staf is thanne aweie, 420
Wherof thei scholde her flock defende;
Bot if the povere Schep offende
In eny thing, thogh it be lyte,
They ben al redy forto smyte;
And thus, how evere that thei tale,
The strokes falle upon the smale,
And upon othre that ben grete
Hem lacketh herte forto bete.
So that under the clerkes lawe
Men sen the Merel al mysdrawe, 430
I wol noght seie in general,
For ther ben somme in special
In whom that alle vertu duelleth,
And tho ben, as thapostel telleth,
That god of his eleccioun
Hath cleped to perfeccioun
In the manere as Aaron was:
Thei ben nothing in thilke cas
Of Simon, which the foldes gate
Hath lete, and goth in othergate, 440
Bot thei gon in the rihte weie.
Ther ben also somme, as men seie,
That folwen Simon ate hieles,
Whos carte goth upon the whieles
Of coveitise and worldes Pride,
And holy cherche goth beside,
Which scheweth outward a visage
Of that is noght in the corage.
For if men loke in holy cherche,
Betwen the word and that thei werche 450
Ther is a full gret difference:
Thei prechen ous in audience
That noman schal his soule empeire,
For al is bot a chirie feire
This worldes good, so as thei telle;
Also thei sein ther is an helle,
Which unto mannes sinne is due,
And bidden ous therfore eschue
That wikkid is, and do the goode.
Who that here wordes understode, 460
It thenkth thei wolden do the same;
Bot yet betwen ernest and game
Ful ofte it torneth other wise.
With holy tales thei devise
How meritoire is thilke dede
Of charite, to clothe and fede
The povere folk and forto parte
The worldes good, bot thei departe
Ne thenken noght fro that thei have.
Also thei sein, good is to save 470
With penance and with abstinence
Of chastite the continence;
Bot pleinly forto speke of that,
I not how thilke body fat,
Which thei with deynte metes kepe
And leyn it softe forto slepe,
Whan it hath elles al his wille,
With chastite schal stonde stille:
And natheles I can noght seie,
In aunter if that I misseye. 480
Touchende of this, how evere it stonde,
I here and wol noght understonde,
For therof have I noght to done:
Bot he that made ferst the Mone,
The hyhe god, of his goodnesse,
If ther be cause, he it redresce.
Bot what as eny man accuse,
This mai reson of trowthe excuse;
The vice of hem that ben ungoode
Is no reproef unto the goode: 490
For every man hise oghne werkes
Schal bere, and thus as of the clerkes
The goode men ben to comende,
And alle these othre god amende:
For thei ben to the worldes ije
The Mirour of ensamplerie,
To reulen and to taken hiede
Betwen the men and the godhiede.
Now forto speke of the comune,
It is to drede of that fortune 500
Which hath befalle in sondri londes:
Bot often for defalte of bondes
Al sodeinliche, er it be wist,
A Tonne, whanne his lye arist,
Tobrekth and renneth al aboute,
Which elles scholde noght gon oute;
And ek fulofte a litel Skar
Upon a Banke, er men be war,
Let in the Strem, which with gret peine,
If evere man it schal restreigne. 510
Wher lawe lacketh, errour groweth,
He is noght wys who that ne troweth,
For it hath proeved ofte er this;
And thus the comun clamour is
In every lond wher poeple dwelleth,
And eche in his compleignte telleth
How that the world is al miswent,
And ther upon his jugement
Yifth every man in sondry wise.
Bot what man wolde himself avise, 520
His conscience and noght misuse,
He may wel ate ferste excuse
His god, which evere stant in on:
In him ther is defalte non,
So moste it stonde upon ousselve
Nought only upon ten ne twelve,
Bot plenerliche upon ous alle,
For man is cause of that schal falle.
And natheles yet som men wryte
And sein that fortune is to wyte, 530
And som men holde oppinion
That it is constellacion,
Which causeth al that a man doth:
God wot of bothe which is soth.
The world as of his propre kynde
Was evere untrewe, and as the blynde
Improprelich he demeth fame,
He blameth that is noght to blame
And preiseth that is noght to preise:
Thus whan he schal the thinges peise, 540
Ther is deceipte in his balance,
And al is that the variance
Of ous, that scholde ous betre avise;
For after that we falle and rise,
The world arist and falth withal,
So that the man is overal
His oghne cause of wel and wo.
That we fortune clepe so
Out of the man himself it groweth;
And who that other wise troweth, 550
Behold the poeple of Irael:
For evere whil thei deden wel,
Fortune was hem debonaire,
And whan thei deden the contraire,
Fortune was contrariende.
So that it proeveth wel at ende
Why that the world is wonderfull
And may no while stonde full,
Though that it seme wel besein;
For every worldes thing is vein, 560
And evere goth the whiel aboute,
And evere stant a man in doute,
Fortune stant no while stille,
So hath ther noman al his wille.
Als fer as evere a man may knowe,
Ther lasteth nothing bot a throwe;
The world stant evere upon debat,
So may be seker non astat,
Now hier now ther, now to now fro,
Now up now down, this world goth so, 570
And evere hath don and evere schal:
Wherof I finde in special
A tale writen in the Bible,
Which moste nedes be credible;
And that as in conclusioun
Seith that upon divisioun
Stant, why no worldes thing mai laste,
Til it be drive to the laste.
And fro the ferste regne of alle
Into this day, hou so befalle, 580
Of that the regnes be muable
The man himself hath be coupable,
Which of his propre governance
Fortuneth al the worldes chance.
The hyhe almyhti pourveance,
In whos eterne remembrance
Fro ferst was every thing present,
He hath his prophecie sent,
In such a wise as thou schalt hiere,
To Daniel of this matiere, 590
Hou that this world schal torne and wende,
Till it be falle to his ende;
Wherof the tale telle I schal,
In which it is betokned al.
As Nabugodonosor slepte,
A swevene him tok, the which he kepte
Til on the morwe he was arise,
For he therof was sore agrise.
To Daniel his drem he tolde,
And preide him faire that he wolde 600
Arede what it tokne may;
And seide: "Abedde wher I lay,
Me thoghte I syh upon a Stage
Wher stod a wonder strange ymage.
His hed with al the necke also
Thei were of fin gold bothe tuo;
His brest, his schuldres and his armes
Were al of selver, bot the tharmes,
The wombe and al doun to the kne,
Of bras thei were upon to se; 610
The legges were al mad of Stiel,
So were his feet also somdiel,
And somdiel part to hem was take
Of Erthe which men Pottes make;
The fieble meynd was with the stronge,
So myhte it wel noght stonde longe.
And tho me thoghte that I sih
A gret ston from an hull on hyh
Fel doun of sodein aventure
Upon the feet of this figure, 620
With which Ston al tobroke was
Gold, Selver, Erthe, Stiel and Bras,
That al was in to pouldre broght,
And so forth torned into noght."
This was the swevene which he hadde,
That Daniel anon aradde,
And seide him that figure strange
Betokneth how the world schal change
And waxe lasse worth and lasse,
Til it to noght al overpasse. 630
The necke and hed, that weren golde,
He seide how that betokne scholde
A worthi world, a noble, a riche,
To which non after schal be liche.
Of Selver that was overforth
Schal ben a world of lasse worth;
And after that the wombe of Bras
Tokne of a werse world it was.
The Stiel which he syh afterward
A world betokneth more hard: 640
Bot yet the werste of everydel
Is last, whan that of Erthe and Stiel
He syh the feet departed so,
For that betokneth mochel wo.
Whan that the world divided is,
It moste algate fare amis,
For Erthe which is meynd with Stiel
Togedre may noght laste wiel,
Bot if that on that other waste;
So mot it nedes faile in haste. 650
The Ston, which fro the hully Stage
He syh doun falle on that ymage,
And hath it into pouldre broke,
That swevene hath Daniel unloke,
And seide how that is goddes myht,
Which whan men wene most upryht
To stonde, schal hem overcaste.
And that is of this world the laste,
And thanne a newe schal beginne,
Fro which a man schal nevere twinne; 660
Or al to peine or al to pes
That world schal lasten endeles.
Lo thus expondeth Daniel
The kynges swevene faire and wel
In Babiloyne the Cite,
Wher that the wiseste of Caldee
Ne cowthen wite what it mente;
Bot he tolde al the hol entente,
As in partie it is befalle.
Of gold the ferste regne of alle 670
Was in that kinges time tho,
And laste manye daies so,
Therwhiles that the Monarchie
Of al the world in that partie
To Babiloyne was soubgit;
And hield him stille in such a plit,
Til that the world began diverse:
And that was whan the king of Perse,
Which Cirus hyhte, ayein the pes
Forth with his Sone Cambises 680
Of Babiloine al that Empire,
Ryht as thei wolde hemself desire,
Put under in subjeccioun
And tok it in possessioun,
And slayn was Baltazar the king,
Which loste his regne and al his thing.
And thus whan thei it hadde wonne,
The world of Selver was begonne
And that of gold was passed oute:
And in this wise it goth aboute 690
In to the Regne of Darius;
And thanne it fell to Perse thus,
That Alisaundre put hem under,
Which wroghte of armes many a wonder,
So that the Monarchie lefte
With Grecs, and here astat uplefte,
And Persiens gon under fote,
So soffre thei that nedes mote.
And tho the world began of Bras,
And that of selver ended was; 700
Bot for the time thus it laste,
Til it befell that ate laste
This king, whan that his day was come,
With strengthe of deth was overcome.
And natheles yet er he dyde,
He schop his Regnes to divide
To knyhtes whiche him hadde served,
And after that thei have deserved
Yaf the conquestes that he wan;
Wherof gret werre tho began 710
Among hem that the Regnes hadde,
Thurgh proud Envie which hem ladde,
Til it befell ayein hem thus:
The noble Cesar Julius,
Which tho was king of Rome lond,
With gret bataille and with strong hond
Al Grece, Perse and ek Caldee
Wan and put under, so that he
Noght al only of thorient
Bot al the Marche of thoccident 720
Governeth under his empire,
As he that was hol lord and Sire,
And hield thurgh his chivalerie
Of al this world the Monarchie,
And was the ferste of that honour
Which tok the name of Emperour.
Wher Rome thanne wolde assaille,
Ther myhte nothing contrevaille,
Bot every contre moste obeie:
Tho goth the Regne of Bras aweie, 730
And comen is the world of Stiel,
And stod above upon the whiel.
As Stiel is hardest in his kynde
Above alle othre that men finde
Of Metals, such was Rome tho
The myhtieste, and laste so
Long time amonges the Romeins
Til thei become so vileins,
That the fals Emperour Leo
With Constantin his Sone also 740
The patrimoine and the richesse,
Which to Silvestre in pure almesse
The ferste Constantinus lefte,
Fro holy cherche thei berefte.
Bot Adrian, which Pope was,
And syh the meschief of this cas,
Goth in to France forto pleigne,
And preith the grete Charlemeine,
For Cristes sake and Soule hele
That he wol take the querele 750
Of holy cherche in his defence.
And Charles for the reverence
Of god the cause hath undertake,
And with his host the weie take
Over the Montz of Lombardie;
Of Rome and al the tirandie
With blodi swerd he overcom,
And the Cite with strengthe nom;
In such a wise and there he wroghte,
That holy cherche ayein he broghte 760
Into franchise, and doth restore
The Popes lost, and yaf him more:
And thus whan he his god hath served,
He tok, as he wel hath deserved,
The Diademe and was coroned.
Of Rome and thus was abandoned
Thempire, which cam nevere ayein
Into the hond of no Romein;
Bot a long time it stod so stille
Under the Frensche kynges wille, 770
Til that fortune hir whiel so ladde,
That afterward Lombardz it hadde,
Noght be the swerd, bot be soffrance
Of him that tho was kyng of France,
Which Karle Calvus cleped was;
And he resigneth in this cas
Thempire of Rome unto Lowis
His Cousin, which a Lombard is.
And so hit laste into the yeer
Of Albert and of Berenger; 780
Bot thanne upon dissencioun
Thei felle, and in divisioun
Among hemself that were grete,
So that thei loste the beyete
Of worschipe and of worldes pes.
Bot in proverbe natheles
Men sein, ful selden is that welthe
Can soffre his oghne astat in helthe;
And that was on the Lombardz sene,
Such comun strif was hem betwene 790
Thurgh coveitise and thurgh Envie,
That every man drowh his partie,
Which myhte leden eny route,
Withinne Burgh and ek withoute:
The comun ryht hath no felawe,
So that the governance of lawe
Was lost, and for necessite,
Of that thei stode in such degre
Al only thurgh divisioun,
Hem nedeth in conclusioun 800
Of strange londes help beside.
And thus for thei hemself divide
And stonden out of reule unevene,
Of Alemaine Princes sevene
Thei chose in this condicioun,
That upon here eleccioun
Thempire of Rome scholde stonde.
And thus thei lefte it out of honde
For lacke of grace, and it forsoke,
That Alemans upon hem toke: 810
And to confermen here astat,
Of that thei founden in debat
Thei token the possessioun
After the composicioun
Among hemself, and therupon
Thei made an Emperour anon,
Whos name as the Cronique telleth
Was Othes; and so forth it duelleth,
Fro thilke day yit unto this
Thempire of Rome hath ben and is 820
To thalemans. And in this wise,
As ye tofore have herd divise
How Daniel the swevene expondeth
Of that ymage, on whom he foundeth
The world which after scholde falle,
Come is the laste tokne of alle;
Upon the feet of Erthe and Stiel
So stant this world now everydiel
Departed; which began riht tho,
Whan Rome was divided so: 830
And that is forto rewe sore,
For alway siththe more and more
The world empeireth every day.
Wherof the sothe schewe may,
At Rome ferst if we beginne:
The wall and al the Cit withinne
Stant in ruine and in decas,
The feld is wher the Paleis was,
The toun is wast; and overthat,
If we beholde thilke astat 840
Which whilom was of the Romeins,
Of knyhthode and of Citezeins,
To peise now with that beforn,
The chaf is take for the corn,
As forto speke of Romes myht:
Unethes stant ther oght upryht
Of worschipe or of worldes good,
As it before tyme stod.
And why the worschipe is aweie,
If that a man the sothe seie, 850
The cause hath ben divisioun,
Which moder of confusioun
Is wher sche cometh overal,
Noght only of the temporal
Bot of the spirital also.
The dede proeveth it is so,
And hath do many day er this,
Thurgh venym which that medled is
In holy cherche of erthly thing:
For Crist himself makth knowleching 860
That noman may togedre serve
God and the world, bot if he swerve
Froward that on and stonde unstable;
And Cristes word may noght be fable.
The thing so open is at ije,
It nedeth noght to specefie
Or speke oght more in this matiere;
Bot in this wise a man mai lere
Hou that the world is gon aboute,
The which welnyh is wered oute, 870
After the forme of that figure
Which Daniel in his scripture
Expondeth, as tofore is told.
Of Bras, of Selver and of Gold
The world is passed and agon,
And now upon his olde ton
It stant of brutel Erthe and Stiel,
The whiche acorden nevere a diel;
So mot it nedes swerve aside
As thing the which men sen divide. 880
Thapostel writ unto ous alle
And seith that upon ous is falle
Thende of the world; so may we knowe,
This ymage is nyh overthrowe,
Be which this world was signified,
That whilom was so magnefied,
And now is old and fieble and vil,
Full of meschief and of peril,
And stant divided ek also
Lich to the feet that were so, 890
As I tolde of the Statue above.
And this men sen, thurgh lacke of love
Where as the lond divided is,
It mot algate fare amis:
And now to loke on every side,
A man may se the world divide,
The werres ben so general
Among the cristene overal,
That every man now secheth wreche,
And yet these clerkes alday preche 900
And sein, good dede may non be
Which stant noght upon charite:
I not hou charite may stonde,
Wher dedly werre is take on honde.
Bot al this wo is cause of man,
The which that wit and reson can,
And that in tokne and in witnesse
That ilke ymage bar liknesse
Of man and of non other beste.
For ferst unto the mannes heste 910
Was every creature ordeined,
Bot afterward it was restreigned:
Whan that he fell, thei fellen eke,
Whan he wax sek, thei woxen seke;
For as the man hath passioun
Of seknesse, in comparisoun
So soffren othre creatures.
Lo, ferst the hevenly figures,
The Sonne and Mone eclipsen bothe,
And ben with mannes senne wrothe; 920
The purest Eir for Senne alofte
Hath ben and is corrupt fulofte,
Right now the hyhe wyndes blowe,
And anon after thei ben lowe,
Now clowdy and now clier it is:
So may it proeven wel be this,
A mannes Senne is forto hate,
Which makth the welkne to debate.
And forto se the proprete
Of every thyng in his degree, 930
Benethe forth among ous hiere
Al stant aliche in this matiere:
The See now ebbeth, now it floweth,
The lond now welketh, now it groweth,
Now be the Trees with leves grene,
Now thei be bare and nothing sene,
Now be the lusti somer floures,
Now be the stormy wynter shoures,
Now be the daies, now the nyhtes,
So stant ther nothing al upryhtes, 940
Now it is lyht, now it is derk;
And thus stant al the worldes werk
After the disposicioun
Of man and his condicioun.
Forthi Gregoire in his Moral
Seith that a man in special
The lasse world is properly:
And that he proeveth redely;
For man of Soule resonable
Is to an Angel resemblable, 950
And lich to beste he hath fielinge,
And lich to Trees he hath growinge;
The Stones ben and so is he:
Thus of his propre qualite
The man, as telleth the clergie,
Is as a world in his partie,
And whan this litel world mistorneth,
The grete world al overtorneth.
The Lond, the See, the firmament,
Thei axen alle jugement 960
Ayein the man and make him werre:
Therwhile himself stant out of herre,
The remenant wol noght acorde:
And in this wise, as I recorde,
The man is cause of alle wo,
Why this world is divided so.
Division, the gospell seith,
On hous upon another leith,
Til that the Regne al overthrowe:
And thus may every man wel knowe, 970
Division aboven alle
Is thing which makth the world to falle,
And evere hath do sith it began.
It may ferst proeve upon a man;
The which, for his complexioun
Is mad upon divisioun
Of cold, of hot, of moist, of drye,
He mot be verray kynde dye:
For the contraire of his astat
Stant evermore in such debat, 980
Til that o part be overcome,
Ther may no final pes be nome.
Bot other wise, if a man were
Mad al togedre of o matiere
Withouten interrupcioun,
Ther scholde no corrupcioun
Engendre upon that unite:
Bot for ther is diversite
Withinne himself, he may noght laste,
That he ne deieth ate laste. 990
Bot in a man yit over this
Full gret divisioun ther is,
Thurgh which that he is evere in strif,
Whil that him lasteth eny lif:
The bodi and the Soule also
Among hem ben divided so,
That what thing that the body hateth
The soule loveth and debateth;
Bot natheles fulofte is sene
Of werre which is hem betwene 1000
The fieble hath wonne the victoire.
And who so drawth into memoire
What hath befalle of old and newe,
He may that werre sore rewe,
Which ferst began in Paradis:
For ther was proeved what it is,
And what desese there it wroghte;
For thilke werre tho forth broghte
The vice of alle dedly Sinne,
Thurgh which division cam inne 1010
Among the men in erthe hiere,
And was the cause and the matiere
Why god the grete flodes sende,
Of al the world and made an ende
Bot Noe5 with his felaschipe,
Which only weren saulf be Schipe.
And over that thurgh Senne it com
That Nembrot such emprise nom,
Whan he the Tour Babel on heihte
Let make, as he that wolde feihte 1020
Ayein the hihe goddes myht,
Wherof divided anon ryht
Was the langage in such entente,
Ther wiste non what other mente,
So that thei myhten noght procede.
And thus it stant of every dede,
Wher Senne takth the cause on honde,
It may upriht noght longe stonde;
For Senne of his condicioun
Is moder of divisioun 1030
And tokne whan the world schal faile.
For so seith Crist withoute faile,
That nyh upon the worldes ende
Pes and acord awey schol wende
And alle charite schal cesse,
Among the men and hate encresce;
And whan these toknes ben befalle,
Al sodeinly the Ston schal falle,
As Daniel it hath beknowe,
Which al this world schal overthrowe, 1040
And every man schal thanne arise
To Joie or elles to Juise,
Wher that he schal for evere dwelle,
Or straght to hevene or straght to helle.
In hevene is pes and al acord,
Bot helle is full of such descord
That ther may be no loveday:
Forthi good is, whil a man may,
Echon to sette pes with other
And loven as his oghne brother; 1050
So may he winne worldes welthe
And afterward his soule helthe.
Bot wolde god that now were on
An other such as Arion,
Which hadde an harpe of such temprure,
And therto of so good mesure
He song, that he the bestes wilde
Made of his note tame and milde,
The Hinde in pes with the Leoun,
The Wolf in pes with the Moltoun, 1060
The Hare in pees stod with the Hound;
And every man upon this ground
Which Arion that time herde,
Als wel the lord as the schepherde,
He broghte hem alle in good acord;
So that the comun with the lord,
And lord with the comun also,
He sette in love bothe tuo
And putte awey malencolie.
That was a lusti melodie, 1070
Whan every man with other low;
And if ther were such on now,
Which cowthe harpe as he tho dede,
He myhte availe in many a stede
To make pes wher now is hate;
For whan men thenken to debate,
I not what other thing is good.
Bot wher that wisdom waxeth wod,
And reson torneth into rage,
So that mesure upon oultrage 1080
Hath set his world, it is to drede;
For that bringth in the comun drede,
Which stant at every mannes Dore:
Bot whan the scharpnesse of the spore
The horse side smit to sore,
It grieveth ofte. And now nomore,
As forto speke of this matiere,
Which non bot only god may stiere.

Explicit Prologus

Incipit Liber Primus

Naturatus amor nature legibus orbem
Subdit, et vnanimes concitat esse feras:
Huius enim mundi Princeps amor esse videtur,
Cuius eget diues, pauper et omnis ope.
Sunt in agone pares amor et fortuna, que cecas
Plebis ad insidias vertit vterque rotas.
Est amor egra salus, vexata quies, pius error,
Bellica pax, vulnus dulce, suaue malum.

I may noght strecche up to the hevene
Min hand, ne setten al in evene
This world, which evere is in balance:
It stant noght in my sufficance
So grete thinges to compasse,
Bot I mot lete it overpasse
And treten upon othre thinges.
Forthi the Stile of my writinges
Fro this day forth I thenke change
And speke of thing is noght so strange, 10
Which every kinde hath upon honde,
And wherupon the world mot stonde,
And hath don sithen it began,
And schal whil ther is any man;
And that is love, of which I mene
To trete, as after schal be sene.
In which ther can noman him reule,
For loves lawe is out of reule,
That of tomoche or of tolite
Welnyh is every man to wyte, 20
And natheles ther is noman
In al this world so wys, that can
Of love tempre the mesure,
Bot as it falth in aventure:
For wit ne strengthe may noght helpe,
And he which elles wolde him yelpe
Is rathest throwen under fote,
Ther can no wiht therof do bote.
For yet was nevere such covine,
That couthe ordeine a medicine 30
To thing which god in lawe of kinde
Hath set, for ther may noman finde
The rihte salve of such a Sor.
It hath and schal ben everemor
That love is maister wher he wile,
Ther can no lif make other skile;
For wher as evere him lest to sette,
Ther is no myht which him may lette.
Bot what schal fallen ate laste,
The sothe can no wisdom caste, 40
Bot as it falleth upon chance;
For if ther evere was balance
Which of fortune stant governed,
I may wel lieve as I am lerned
That love hath that balance on honde,
Which wol no reson understonde.
For love is blind and may noght se,
Forthi may no certeinete
Be set upon his jugement,
Bot as the whiel aboute went 50
He yifth his graces undeserved,
And fro that man which hath him served
Fulofte he takth aweye his fees,
As he that pleieth ate Dees,
And therupon what schal befalle
He not, til that the chance falle,
Wher he schal lese or he schal winne.
And thus fulofte men beginne,
That if thei wisten what it mente,
Thei wolde change al here entente. 60
And forto proven it is so,
I am miselven on of tho,
Which to this Scole am underfonge.
For it is siththe go noght longe,
As forto speke of this matiere,
I may you telle, if ye woll hiere,
A wonder hap which me befell,
That was to me bothe hard and fell,
Touchende of love and his fortune,
The which me liketh to comune 70
And pleinly forto telle it oute.
To hem that ben lovers aboute
Fro point to point I wol declare
And wryten of my woful care,
Mi wofull day, my wofull chance,
That men mowe take remembrance
Of that thei schall hierafter rede:
For in good feith this wolde I rede,
That every man ensample take
Of wisdom which him is betake, 80
And that he wot of good aprise
To teche it forth, for such emprise
Is forto preise; and therfore I
Woll wryte and schewe al openly
How love and I togedre mette,
Wherof the world ensample fette
Mai after this, whan I am go,
Of thilke unsely jolif wo,
Whos reule stant out of the weie,
Nou glad and nou gladnesse aweie, 90
And yet it may noght be withstonde
For oght that men may understonde.
Upon the point that is befalle
Of love, in which that I am falle,
I thenke telle my matiere:
Now herkne, who that wol it hiere,
Of my fortune how that it ferde.
This enderday, as I forthferde
To walke, as I yow telle may,-
And that was in the Monthe of Maii, 100
Whan every brid hath chose his make
And thenkth his merthes forto make
Of love that he hath achieved;
Bot so was I nothing relieved,
For I was further fro my love
Than Erthe is fro the hevene above,
As forto speke of eny sped:
So wiste I me non other red,
Bot as it were a man forfare
Unto the wode I gan to fare, 110
Noght forto singe with the briddes,
For whanne I was the wode amiddes,
I fond a swote grene pleine,
And ther I gan my wo compleigne
Wisshinge and wepinge al myn one,
For other merthes made I none.
So hard me was that ilke throwe,
That ofte sithes overthrowe
To grounde I was withoute breth;
And evere I wisshide after deth, 120
Whanne I out of my peine awok,
And caste up many a pitous lok
Unto the hevene, and seide thus:
"O thou Cupide, O thou Venus,
Thou god of love and thou goddesse,
Wher is pite? wher is meknesse?
Now doth me pleinly live or dye,
For certes such a maladie
As I now have and longe have hadd,
It myhte make a wisman madd, 130
If that it scholde longe endure.
O Venus, queene of loves cure,
Thou lif, thou lust, thou mannes hele,
Behold my cause and my querele,
And yif me som part of thi grace,
So that I may finde in this place
If thou be gracious or non."
And with that word I sawh anon
The kyng of love and qweene bothe;
Bot he that kyng with yhen wrothe 140
His chiere aweiward fro me caste,
And forth he passede ate laste.
Bot natheles er he forth wente
A firy Dart me thoghte he hente
And threw it thurgh myn herte rote:
In him fond I non other bote,
For lenger list him noght to duelle.
Bot sche that is the Source and Welle
Of wel or wo, that schal betide
To hem that loven, at that tide 150
Abod, bot forto tellen hiere
Sche cast on me no goodly chiere:
Thus natheles to me sche seide,
"What art thou, Sone?" and I abreide
Riht as a man doth out of slep,
And therof tok sche riht good kep
And bad me nothing ben adrad:
Bot for al that I was noght glad,
For I ne sawh no cause why.
And eft scheo asketh, what was I: 160
I seide, "A Caitif that lith hiere:
What wolde ye, my Ladi diere?
Schal I ben hol or elles dye?"
Sche seide, "Tell thi maladie:
What is thi Sor of which thou pleignest?
Ne hyd it noght, for if thou feignest,
I can do the no medicine."
"Ma dame, I am a man of thyne,
That in thi Court have longe served,
And aske that I have deserved, 170
Some wele after my longe wo."
And sche began to loure tho,
And seide, "Ther is manye of yow
Faitours, and so may be that thow
Art riht such on, and be feintise
Seist that thou hast me do servise."
And natheles sche wiste wel,
Mi world stod on an other whiel
Withouten eny faiterie:
Bot algate of my maladie 180
Sche bad me telle and seie hir trowthe.
"Ma dame, if ye wolde have rowthe,"
Quod I, "than wolde I telle yow."
"Sey forth," quod sche, "and tell me how;
Schew me thi seknesse everydiel."
"Ma dame, that can I do wel,
Be so my lif therto wol laste."
With that hir lok on me sche caste,
And seide: "In aunter if thou live,
Mi will is ferst that thou be schrive; 190
And natheles how that it is
I wot miself, bot for al this
Unto my prest, which comth anon,
I woll thou telle it on and on,
Bothe all thi thoght and al thi werk.
O Genius myn oghne Clerk,
Com forth and hier this mannes schrifte,"
Quod Venus tho; and I uplifte
Min hefd with that, and gan beholde
The selve Prest, which as sche wolde 200
Was redy there and sette him doun
To hiere my confessioun.
This worthi Prest, this holy man
To me spekende thus began,
And seide: "Benedicite,
Mi Sone, of the felicite
Of love and ek of all the wo
Thou schalt thee schrive of bothe tuo.
What thou er this for loves sake
Hast felt, let nothing be forsake, 210
Tell pleinliche as it is befalle."
And with that word I gan doun falle
On knees, and with devocioun
And with full gret contricioun
I seide thanne: "Dominus,
Min holi fader Genius,
So as thou hast experience
Of love, for whos reverence
Thou schalt me schriven at this time,
I prai the let me noght mistime 220
Mi schrifte, for I am destourbed
In al myn herte, and so contourbed,
That I ne may my wittes gete,
So schal I moche thing foryete:
Bot if thou wolt my schrifte oppose
Fro point to point, thanne I suppose,
Ther schal nothing be left behinde.
Bot now my wittes ben so blinde,
That I ne can miselven teche."
Tho he began anon to preche, 230
And with his wordes debonaire
He seide tome softe and faire:
"Thi schrifte to oppose and hiere,
My Sone, I am assigned hiere
Be Venus the godesse above,
Whos Prest I am touchende of love.
Bot natheles for certein skile
I mot algate and nedes wile
Noght only make my spekynges
Of love, bot of othre thinges, 240
That touchen to the cause of vice.
For that belongeth to thoffice
Of Prest, whos ordre that I bere,
So that I wol nothing forbere,
That I the vices on and on
Ne schal thee schewen everychon;
Wherof thou myht take evidence
To reule with thi conscience.
Bot of conclusion final
Conclude I wol in special 250
For love, whos servant I am,
And why the cause is that I cam.
So thenke I to don bothe tuo,
Ferst that myn ordre longeth to,
The vices forto telle arewe,
Bot next above alle othre schewe
Of love I wol the propretes,
How that thei stonde be degrees
After the disposicioun
Of Venus, whos condicioun 260
I moste folwe, as I am holde.
For I with love am al withholde,
So that the lasse I am to wyte,
Thogh I ne conne bot a lyte
Of othre thinges that ben wise:
I am noght tawht in such a wise;
For it is noght my comun us
To speke of vices and vertus,
Bot al of love and of his lore,
For Venus bokes of nomore 270
Me techen nowther text ne glose.
Bot for als moche as I suppose
It sit a prest to be wel thewed,
And schame it is if he be lewed,
Of my Presthode after the forme
I wol thi schrifte so enforme,
That ate leste thou schalt hiere
The vices, and to thi matiere
Of love I schal hem so remene,
That thou schalt knowe what thei mene. 280
For what a man schal axe or sein
Touchende of schrifte, it mot be plein,
It nedeth noght to make it queinte,
For trowthe hise wordes wol noght peinte:
That I wole axe of the forthi,
My Sone, it schal be so pleinly,
That thou schalt knowe and understonde
The pointz of schrifte how that thei stonde."
Betwen the lif and deth I herde
This Prestes tale er I answerde, 290
And thanne I preide him forto seie
His will, and I it wolde obeie
After the forme of his apprise.
Tho spak he tome in such a wise,
And bad me that I scholde schrive
As touchende of my wittes fyve,
And schape that thei were amended
Of that I hadde hem misdispended.
For tho be proprely the gates,
Thurgh whiche as to the herte algates 300
Comth alle thing unto the feire,
Which may the mannes Soule empeire.
And now this matiere is broght inne,
Mi Sone, I thenke ferst beginne
To wite how that thin yhe hath stonde,
The which is, as I understonde,
The moste principal of alle,
Thurgh whom that peril mai befalle.
And forto speke in loves kinde,
Ful manye suche a man mai finde, 310
Whiche evere caste aboute here yhe,
To loke if that thei myhte aspie
Fulofte thing which hem ne toucheth,
Bot only that here herte soucheth
In hindringe of an other wiht;
And thus ful many a worthi knyht
And many a lusti lady bothe
Have be fulofte sythe wrothe.
So that an yhe is as a thief
To love, and doth ful gret meschief; 320
And also for his oghne part
Fulofte thilke firy Dart
Of love, which that evere brenneth,
Thurgh him into the herte renneth:
And thus a mannes yhe ferst
Himselve grieveth alther werst,
And many a time that he knoweth
Unto his oghne harm it groweth.
Mi Sone, herkne now forthi
A tale, to be war therby 330
Thin yhe forto kepe and warde,
So that it passe noght his warde.
Ovide telleth in his bok
Ensample touchende of mislok,
And seith hou whilom ther was on,
A worthi lord, which Acteon
Was hote, and he was cousin nyh
To him that Thebes ferst on hyh
Up sette, which king Cadme hyhte.
This Acteon, as he wel myhte, 340
Above alle othre caste his chiere,
And used it fro yer to yere,
With Houndes and with grete Hornes
Among the wodes and the thornes
To make his hunting and his chace:
Where him best thoghte in every place
To finde gamen in his weie,
Ther rod he forto hunte and pleie.
So him befell upon a tide
On his hunting as he cam ride, 350
In a Forest al one he was:
He syh upon the grene gras
The faire freisshe floures springe,
He herde among the leves singe
The Throstle with the nyhtingale:
Thus er he wiste into a Dale
He cam, wher was a litel plein,
All round aboute wel besein
With buisshes grene and Cedres hyhe;
And ther withinne he caste his yhe. 360
Amidd the plein he syh a welle,
So fair ther myhte noman telle,
In which Diana naked stod
To bathe and pleie hire in the flod
With many a Nimphe, which hire serveth.
Bot he his yhe awey ne swerveth
Fro hire, which was naked al,
And sche was wonder wroth withal,
And him, as sche which was godesse,
Forschop anon, and the liknesse 370
Sche made him taken of an Hert,
Which was tofore hise houndes stert,
That ronne besiliche aboute
With many an horn and many a route,
That maden mochel noise and cry:
And ate laste unhappely
This Hert his oghne houndes slowhe
And him for vengance al todrowhe.
Lo now, my Sone, what it is
A man to caste his yhe amis, 380
Which Acteon hath dere aboght;
Be war forthi and do it noght.
For ofte, who that hiede toke,
Betre is to winke than to loke.
And forto proven it is so,
Ovide the Poete also
A tale which to this matiere
Acordeth seith, as thou schalt hiere.
In Metamor it telleth thus,
How that a lord which Phorces 390
Was hote, hadde dowhtres thre.
Bot upon here nativite
Such was the constellacion,
That out of mannes nacion
Fro kynde thei be so miswent,
That to the liknesse of Serpent
Thei were bore, and so that on
Of hem was cleped Stellibon,
That other soster Suriale,
The thridde, as telleth in the tale, 400
Medusa hihte, and natheles
Of comun name Gorgones
In every contre ther aboute,
As Monstres whiche that men doute,
Men clepen hem; and bot on yhe
Among hem thre in pourpartie
Thei hadde, of which thei myhte se,
Now hath it this, now hath it sche;
After that cause and nede it ladde,
Be throwes ech of hem it hadde. 410
A wonder thing yet more amis
Ther was, wherof I telle al this:
What man on hem his chiere caste
And hem behield, he was als faste
Out of a man into a Ston
Forschape, and thus ful manyon
Deceived were, of that thei wolde
Misloke, wher that thei ne scholde.
Bot Perses that worthi knyht,
Whom Pallas of hir grete myht 420
Halp, and tok him a Schield therto,
And ek the god Mercurie also
Lente him a swerd, he, as it fell,
Beyende Athlans the hihe hell
These Monstres soghte, and there he fond
Diverse men of thilke lond
Thurgh sihte of hem mistorned were,
Stondende as Stones hiere and there.
Bot he, which wisdom and prouesse
Hadde of the god and the godesse, 430
The Schield of Pallas gan enbrace,
With which he covereth sauf his face,
Mercuries Swerd and out he drowh,
And so he bar him that he slowh
These dredful Monstres alle thre.
Lo now, my Sone, avise the,
That thou thi sihte noght misuse:
Cast noght thin yhe upon Meduse,
That thou be torned into Ston:
For so wys man was nevere non, 440
Bot if he wel his yhe kepe
And take of fol delit no kepe,
That he with lust nys ofte nome,
Thurgh strengthe of love and overcome.
Of mislokynge how it hath ferd,
As I have told, now hast thou herd,
My goode Sone, and tak good hiede.
And overthis yet I thee rede
That thou be war of thin heringe,
Which to the Herte the tidinge 450
Of many a vanite hath broght,
To tarie with a mannes thoght.
And natheles good is to hiere
Such thing wherof a man may lere
That to vertu is acordant,
And toward al the remenant
Good is to torne his Ere fro;
For elles, bot a man do so,
Him may fulofte mysbefalle.
I rede ensample amonges alle, 460
Wherof to kepe wel an Ere
It oghte pute a man in fere.
A Serpent, which that Aspidis
Is cleped, of his kynde hath this,
That he the Ston noblest of alle,
The which that men Carbuncle calle,
Berth in his hed above on heihte.
For which whan that a man be sleyhte,
The Ston to winne and him to daunte,
With his carecte him wolde enchaunte, 470
Anon as he perceiveth that,
He leith doun his on Ere al plat
Unto the ground, and halt it faste,
And ek that other Ere als faste
He stoppeth with his tail so sore,
That he the wordes lasse or more
Of his enchantement ne hiereth;
And in this wise himself he skiereth,
So that he hath the wordes weyved
And thurgh his Ere is noght deceived. 480
An othre thing, who that recordeth,
Lich unto this ensample acordeth,
Which in the tale of Troie I finde.
Sirenes of a wonder kynde
Ben Monstres, as the bokes tellen,
And in the grete Se thei duellen:
Of body bothe and of visage
Lik unto wommen of yong age
Up fro the Navele on hih thei be,
And doun benethe, as men mai se, 490
Thei bere of fisshes the figure.
And overthis of such nature
Thei ben, that with so swete a stevene
Lik to the melodie of hevene
In wommanysshe vois thei singe,
With notes of so gret likinge,
Of such mesure, of such musike,
Wherof the Schipes thei beswike
That passen be the costes there.
For whan the Schipmen leie an Ere 500
Unto the vois, in here avys
Thei wene it be a Paradys,
Which after is to hem an helle.
For reson may noght with hem duelle,
Whan thei tho grete lustes hiere;
Thei conne noght here Schipes stiere,
So besiliche upon the note
Thei herkne, and in such wise assote,
That thei here rihte cours and weie
Foryete, and to here Ere obeie, 510
And seilen til it so befalle
That thei into the peril falle,
Where as the Schipes be todrawe,
And thei ben with the Monstres slawe.
Bot fro this peril natheles
With his wisdom king Uluxes
Ascapeth and it overpasseth;
For he tofor the hond compasseth
That noman of his compaignie
Hath pouer unto that folie 520
His Ere for no lust to caste;
For he hem stoppede alle faste,
That non of hem mai hiere hem singe.
So whan they comen forth seilinge,
Ther was such governance on honde,
That thei the Monstres have withstonde
And slain of hem a gret partie.
Thus was he sauf with his navie,
This wise king, thurgh governance.
Wherof, my Sone, in remembrance 530
Thou myht ensample taken hiere,
As I have told, and what thou hiere
Be wel war, and yif no credence,
Bot if thou se more evidence.
For if thou woldest take kepe
And wisly cowthest warde and kepe
Thin yhe and Ere, as I have spoke,
Than haddest thou the gates stoke
Fro such Sotie as comth to winne
Thin hertes wit, which is withinne, 540
Wherof that now thi love excedeth
Mesure, and many a peine bredeth.
Bot if thou cowthest sette in reule
Tho tuo, the thre were eth to reule:
Forthi as of thi wittes five
I wole as now nomore schryve,
Bot only of these ilke tuo.
Tell me therfore if it be so,
Hast thou thin yhen oght misthrowe?
Mi fader, ye, I am beknowe, 550
I have hem cast upon Meduse,
Therof I may me noght excuse:
Min herte is growen into Ston,
So that my lady therupon
Hath such a priente of love grave,
That I can noght miselve save.
What seist thou, Sone, as of thin Ere?
Mi fader, I am gultyf there;
For whanne I may my lady hiere,
Mi wit with that hath lost his Stiere: 560
I do noght as Uluxes dede,
Bot falle anon upon the stede,
Wher as I se my lady stonde;
And there, I do yow understonde,
I am topulled in my thoght,
So that of reson leveth noght,
Wherof that I me mai defende.
My goode Sone, god thamende:
For as me thenketh be thi speche
Thi wittes ben riht feer to seche. 570
As of thin Ere and of thin yhe
I woll nomore specefie,
Bot I woll axen overthis
Of othre thing how that it is.
Mi Sone, as I thee schal enforme,
Ther ben yet of an other forme
Of dedly vices sevene applied,
Wherof the herte is ofte plied
To thing which after schal him grieve.
The ferste of hem thou schalt believe 580
Is Pride, which is principal,
And hath with him in special
Ministres five ful diverse,
Of whiche, as I the schal reherse,
The ferste is seid Ypocrisie.
If thou art of his compaignie,
Tell forth, my Sone, and schrif the clene.
I wot noght, fader, what ye mene:
Bot this I wolde you beseche,
That ye me be som weie teche 590
What is to ben an ypocrite;
And thanne if I be forto wyte,
I wol beknowen, as it is.
Mi Sone, an ypocrite is this,-
A man which feigneth conscience,
As thogh it were al innocence,
Withoute, and is noght so withinne;
And doth so for he wolde winne
Of his desir the vein astat.
And whanne he comth anon therat, 600
He scheweth thanne what he was,
The corn is torned into gras,
That was a Rose is thanne a thorn,
And he that was a Lomb beforn
Is thanne a Wolf, and thus malice
Under the colour of justice
Is hid; and as the poeple telleth,
These ordres witen where he duelleth,
As he that of here conseil is,
And thilke world which thei er this 610
Forsoken, he drawth in ayein:
He clotheth richesse, as men sein,
Under the simplesce of poverte,
And doth to seme of gret decerte
Thing which is litel worth withinne:
He seith in open, fy! to Sinne,
And in secre ther is no vice
Of which that he nis a Norrice:
And evere his chiere is sobre and softe,
And where he goth he blesseth ofte, 620
Wherof the blinde world he dreccheth.
Bot yet al only he ne streccheth
His reule upon religioun,
Bot next to that condicioun
In suche as clepe hem holy cherche
It scheweth ek how he can werche
Among tho wyde furred hodes,
To geten hem the worldes goodes.
And thei hemself ben thilke same
That setten most the world in blame, 630
Bot yet in contraire of her lore
Ther is nothing thei loven more;
So that semende of liht thei werke
The dedes whiche are inward derke.
And thus this double Ypocrisie
With his devolte apparantie
A viser set upon his face,
Wherof toward this worldes grace
He semeth to be riht wel thewed,
And yit his herte is al beschrewed. 640
Bot natheles he stant believed,
And hath his pourpos ofte achieved
Of worschipe and of worldes welthe,
And takth it, as who seith, be stelthe
Thurgh coverture of his fallas.
And riht so in semblable cas
This vice hath ek his officers
Among these othre seculers
Of grete men, for of the smale
As for tacompte he set no tale, 650
Bot thei that passen the comune
With suche him liketh to comune,
And where he seith he wol socoure
The poeple, there he woll devoure;
For now aday is manyon
Which spekth of Peter and of John
And thenketh Judas in his herte.
Ther schal no worldes good asterte
His hond, and yit he yifth almesse
And fasteth ofte and hiereth Messe: 660
With mea culpa, which he seith,
Upon his brest fullofte he leith
His hond, and cast upward his yhe,
As thogh he Cristes face syhe;
So that it seemeth ate syhte,
As he al one alle othre myhte
Rescoue with his holy bede.
Bot yet his herte in other stede
Among hise bedes most devoute
Goth in the worldes cause aboute, 670
How that he myhte his warisoun
Encresce. And in comparisoun
Ther ben lovers of such a sort,
That feignen hem an humble port,
And al is bot Ypocrisie,
Which with deceipte and flaterie
Hath many a worthi wif beguiled.
For whanne he hath his tunge affiled,
With softe speche and with lesinge,
Forth with his fals pitous lokynge, 680
He wolde make a womman wene
To gon upon the faire grene,
Whan that sche falleth in the Mir.
For if he may have his desir,
How so falle of the remenant,
He halt no word of covenant;
Bot er the time that he spede,
Ther is no sleihte at thilke nede,
Which eny loves faitour mai,
That he ne put it in assai, 690
As him belongeth forto done.
The colour of the reyni Mone
With medicine upon his face
He set, and thanne he axeth grace,
As he which hath sieknesse feigned.
Whan his visage is so desteigned,
With yhe upcast on hire he siketh,
And many a contenance he piketh,
To bringen hire in to believe
Of thing which that he wolde achieve, 700
Wherof he berth the pale hewe;
And for he wolde seme trewe,
He makth him siek, whan he is heil.
Bot whanne he berth lowest the Seil,
Thanne is he swiftest to beguile
The womman, which that ilke while
Set upon him feith or credence.
Mi Sone, if thou thi conscience
Entamed hast in such a wise,
In schrifte thou thee myht avise 710
And telle it me, if it be so.
Min holy fader, certes no.
As forto feigne such sieknesse
It nedeth noght, for this witnesse
I take of god, that my corage
Hath ben mor siek than my visage.
And ek this mai I wel avowe,
So lowe cowthe I nevere bowe
To feigne humilite withoute,
That me ne leste betre loute 720
With alle the thoghtes of myn herte;
For that thing schal me nevere asterte,
I speke as to my lady diere,
To make hire eny feigned chiere.
God wot wel there I lye noght,
Mi chiere hath be such as my thoght;
For in good feith, this lieveth wel,
Mi will was betre a thousendel
Than eny chiere that I cowthe.
Bot, Sire, if I have in my yowthe 730
Don other wise in other place,
I put me therof in your grace:
For this excusen I ne schal,
That I have elles overal
To love and to his compaignie
Be plein withoute Ypocrisie;
Bot ther is on the which I serve,
Althogh I may no thonk deserve,
To whom yet nevere into this day
I seide onlyche or ye or nay, 740
Bot if it so were in my thoght.
As touchende othre seie I noght
That I nam somdel forto wyte
Of that ye clepe an ypocrite.
Mi Sone, it sit wel every wiht
To kepe his word in trowthe upryht
Towardes love in alle wise.
For who that wolde him wel avise
What hath befalle in this matiere,
He scholde noght with feigned chiere 750
Deceive Love in no degre.
To love is every herte fre,
Bot in deceipte if that thou feignest
And therupon thi lust atteignest,
That thow hast wonne with thi wyle,
Thogh it thee like for a whyle,
Thou schalt it afterward repente.
And forto prove myn entente,
I finde ensample in a Croniqe
Of hem that love so beswike. 760
It fell be olde daies thus,
Whil themperour Tiberius
The Monarchie of Rome ladde,
Ther was a worthi Romein hadde
A wif, and sche Pauline hihte,
Which was to every mannes sihte
Of al the Cite the faireste,
And as men seiden, ek the beste.
It is and hath ben evere yit,
That so strong is no mannes wit, 770
Which thurgh beaute ne mai be drawe
To love, and stonde under the lawe
Of thilke bore frele kinde,
Which makth the hertes yhen blinde,
Wher no reson mai be comuned:
And in this wise stod fortuned
This tale, of which I wolde mene;
This wif, which in hire lustes grene
Was fair and freissh and tendre of age,
Sche may noght lette the corage 780
Of him that wole on hire assote.
Ther was a Duck, and he was hote
Mundus, which hadde in his baillie
To lede the chivalerie
Of Rome, and was a worthi knyht;
Bot yet he was noght of such myht
The strengthe of love to withstonde,
That he ne was so broght to honde,
That malgre wher he wole or no,
This yonge wif he loveth so, 790
That he hath put al his assay
To wynne thing which he ne may
Gete of hire graunt in no manere,
Be yifte of gold ne be preiere.
And whanne he syh that be no mede
Toward hir love he myhte spede,
Be sleyhte feigned thanne he wroghte;
And therupon he him bethoghte
How that ther was in the Cite
A temple of such auctorite, 800
To which with gret Devocioun
The noble wommen of the toun
Most comunliche a pelrinage
Gon forto preie thilke ymage
Which the godesse of childinge is,
And cleped was be name Ysis:
And in hire temple thanne were,
To reule and to ministre there
After the lawe which was tho,
Above alle othre Prestes tuo. 810
This Duck, which thoghte his love gete,
Upon a day hem tuo to mete
Hath bede, and thei come at his heste;
Wher that thei hadde a riche feste,
And after mete in prive place
This lord, which wolde his thonk pourchace,
To ech of hem yaf thanne a yifte,
And spak so that be weie of schrifte
He drowh hem unto his covine,
To helpe and schape how he Pauline 820
After his lust deceive myhte.
And thei here trowthes bothe plyhte,
That thei be nyhte hire scholden wynne
Into the temple, and he therinne
Schal have of hire al his entente:
And thus acorded forth thei wente.
Now lest thurgh which ypocrisie
Ordeigned was the tricherie,
Wherof this ladi was deceived.
These Prestes hadden wel conceived 830
That sche was of gret holinesse;
And with a contrefet simplesse,
Which hid was in a fals corage,
Feignende an hevenely message
Thei come and seide unto hir thus:
"Pauline, the god Anubus
Hath sent ous bothe Prestes hiere,
And seith he woll to thee appiere
Be nyhtes time himself alone,
For love he hath to thi persone: 840

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