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Confessio Amantis

Part 3 out of 17

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And schal no mannes herte bere,
Bot every lust he schal forbere
Of man, and lich an Oxe his mete
Of gras he schal pourchace and ete,
Til that the water of the hevene
Have waisshen him be times sevene,
So that he be thurghknowe ariht
What is the heveneliche myht,
And be mad humble to the wille
Of him which al mai save and spille." 2850
This king out of his swefne abreide,
And he upon the morwe it seide
Unto the clerkes whiche he hadde:
Bot non of hem the sothe aradde,
Was non his swevene cowthe undo.
And it stod thilke time so,
This king hadde in subjeccioun
Judee, and of affeccioun
Above alle othre on Daniel
He loveth, for he cowthe wel 2860
Divine that non other cowthe:
To him were alle thinges cowthe,
As he it hadde of goddes grace.
He was before the kinges face
Asent, and bode that he scholde
Upon the point the king of tolde
The fortune of his swevene expounde,
As it scholde afterward be founde.
Whan Daniel this swevene herde,
He stod long time er he ansuerde, 2870
And made a wonder hevy chiere.
The king tok hiede of his manere,
And bad him telle that he wiste,
As he to whom he mochel triste,
And seide he wolde noght be wroth.
Bot Daniel was wonder loth,
And seide: "Upon thi fomen alle,
Sire king, thi swevene mote falle;
And natheles touchende of this
I wol the tellen how it is, 2880
And what desese is to thee schape:
God wot if thou it schalt ascape.
The hihe tree, which thou hast sein
With lef and fruit so wel besein,
The which stod in the world amiddes,
So that the bestes and the briddes
Governed were of him al one,
Sire king, betokneth thi persone,
Which stant above all erthli thinges.
Thus regnen under the the kinges, 2890
And al the poeple unto thee louteth,
And al the world thi pouer doubteth,
So that with vein honour deceived
Thou hast the reverence weyved
Fro him which is thi king above,
That thou for drede ne for love
Wolt nothing knowen of thi godd;
Which now for thee hath mad a rodd,
Thi veine gloire and thi folie
With grete peines to chastie. 2900
And of the vois thou herdest speke,
Which bad the bowes forto breke
And hewe and felle doun the tree,
That word belongeth unto thee;
Thi regne schal ben overthrowe,
And thou despuiled for a throwe:
Bot that the Rote scholde stonde,
Be that thou schalt wel understonde,
Ther schal abyden of thi regne
A time ayein whan thou schalt regne. 2910
And ek of that thou herdest seie,
To take a mannes herte aweie
And sette there a bestial,
So that he lich an Oxe schal
Pasture, and that he be bereined
Be times sefne and sore peined,
Til that he knowe his goddes mihtes,
Than scholde he stonde ayein uprihtes,-
Al this betokneth thin astat,
Which now with god is in debat: 2920
Thi mannes forme schal be lassed,
Til sevene yer ben overpassed,
And in the liknesse of a beste
Of gras schal be thi real feste,
The weder schal upon thee reine.
And understond that al this peine,
Which thou schalt soffre thilke tide,
Is schape al only for thi pride
Of veine gloire, and of the sinne
Which thou hast longe stonden inne. 2930
So upon this condicioun
Thi swevene hath exposicioun.
Bot er this thing befalle in dede,
Amende thee, this wolde I rede:
Yif and departe thin almesse,
Do mercy forth with rihtwisnesse,
Besech and prei the hihe grace,
For so thou myht thi pes pourchace
With godd, and stonde in good acord."
Bot Pride is loth to leve his lord, 2940
And wol noght soffre humilite
With him to stonde in no degree;
And whan a schip hath lost his stiere,
Is non so wys that mai him stiere
Ayein the wawes in a rage.
This proude king in his corage
Humilite hath so forlore,
That for no swevene he sih tofore,
Ne yit for al that Daniel
Him hath conseiled everydel, 2950
He let it passe out of his mynde,
Thurgh veine gloire, and as the blinde,
He seth no weie, er him be wo.
And fell withinne a time so,
As he in Babiloine wente,
The vanite of Pride him hente;
His herte aros of veine gloire,
So that he drowh into memoire
His lordschipe and his regalie
With wordes of Surquiderie. 2960
And whan that he him most avaunteth,
That lord which veine gloire daunteth,
Al sodeinliche, as who seith treis,
Wher that he stod in his Paleis,
He tok him fro the mennes sihte:
Was non of hem so war that mihte
Sette yhe wher that he becom.
And thus was he from his kingdom
Into the wilde Forest drawe,
Wher that the myhti goddes lawe 2970
Thurgh his pouer dede him transforme
Fro man into a bestes forme;
And lich an Oxe under the fot
He graseth, as he nedes mot,
To geten him his lives fode.
Tho thoghte him colde grases goode,
That whilom eet the hote spices,
Thus was he torned fro delices:
The wyn which he was wont to drinke
He tok thanne of the welles brinke 2980
Or of the pet or of the slowh,
It thoghte him thanne good ynowh:
In stede of chambres wel arraied
He was thanne of a buissh wel paied,
The harde ground he lay upon,
For othre pilwes hath he non;
The stormes and the Reines falle,
The wyndes blowe upon him alle,
He was tormented day and nyht,
Such was the hihe goddes myht, 2990
Til sevene yer an ende toke.
Upon himself tho gan he loke;
In stede of mete gras and stres,
In stede of handes longe cles,
In stede of man a bestes lyke
He syh; and thanne he gan to syke
For cloth of gold and for perrie,
Which him was wont to magnefie.
Whan he behield his Cote of heres,
He wepte and with fulwoful teres 3000
Up to the hevene he caste his chiere
Wepende, and thoghte in this manere;
Thogh he no wordes myhte winne,
Thus seide his herte and spak withinne:
"O mihti godd, that al hast wroght
And al myht bringe ayein to noght,
Now knowe I wel, bot al of thee,
This world hath no prosperite:
In thin aspect ben alle liche,
The povere man and ek the riche, 3010
Withoute thee ther mai no wight,
And thou above alle othre miht.
O mihti lord, toward my vice
Thi merci medle with justice;
And I woll make a covenant,
That of my lif the remenant
I schal it be thi grace amende,
And in thi lawe so despende
That veine gloire I schal eschuie,
And bowe unto thin heste and suie 3020
Humilite, and that I vowe."
And so thenkende he gan doun bowe,
And thogh him lacke vois and speche,
He gan up with his feet areche,
And wailende in his bestly stevene
He made his pleignte unto the hevene.
He kneleth in his wise and braieth,
To seche merci and assaieth
His god, which made him nothing strange,
Whan that he sih his pride change. 3030
Anon as he was humble and tame,
He fond toward his god the same,
And in a twinklinge of a lok
His mannes forme ayein he tok,
And was reformed to the regne
In which that he was wont to regne;
So that the Pride of veine gloire
Evere afterward out of memoire
He let it passe. And thus is schewed
What is to ben of Pride unthewed 3040
Ayein the hihe goddes lawe,
To whom noman mai be felawe.
Forthi, my Sone, tak good hiede
So forto lede thi manhiede,
That thou ne be noght lich a beste.
Bot if thi lif schal ben honeste,
Thou most humblesce take on honde,
For thanne myht thou siker stonde:
And forto speke it otherwise,
A proud man can no love assise; 3050
For thogh a womman wolde him plese,
His Pride can noght ben at ese.
Ther mai noman to mochel blame
A vice which is forto blame;
Forthi men scholde nothing hide
That mihte falle in blame of Pride,
Which is the werste vice of alle:
Wherof, so as it was befalle,
The tale I thenke of a Cronique
To telle, if that it mai thee like, 3060
So that thou myht humblesce suie
And ek the vice of Pride eschuie,
Wherof the gloire is fals and vein;
Which god himself hath in desdeign,
That thogh it mounte for a throwe,
It schal doun falle and overthrowe.
A king whilom was yong and wys,
The which sette of his wit gret pris.
Of depe ymaginaciouns
And strange interpretaciouns, 3070
Problemes and demandes eke,
His wisdom was to finde and seke;
Wherof he wolde in sondri wise
Opposen hem that weren wise.
Bot non of hem it myhte bere
Upon his word to yeve answere,
Outaken on, which was a knyht;
To him was every thing so liht,
That also sone as he hem herde,
The kinges wordes he answerde; 3080
What thing the king him axe wolde,
Therof anon the trowthe he tolde.
The king somdiel hadde an Envie,
And thoghte he wolde his wittes plie
To sette som conclusioun,
Which scholde be confusioun
Unto this knyht, so that the name
And of wisdom the hihe fame
Toward himself he wolde winne.
And thus of al his wit withinne 3090
This king began to studie and muse,
What strange matiere he myhte use
The knyhtes wittes to confounde;
And ate laste he hath it founde,
And for the knyht anon he sente,
That he schal telle what he mente.
Upon thre pointz stod the matiere
Of questions, as thou schalt hiere.
The ferste point of alle thre
Was this: "What thing in his degre 3100
Of al this world hath nede lest,
And yet men helpe it althermest?"
The secounde is: "What most is worth,
And of costage is lest put forth?"
The thridde is: "Which is of most cost,
And lest is worth and goth to lost?"
The king thes thre demandes axeth,
And to the knyht this lawe he taxeth,
That he schal gon and come ayein
The thridde weke, and telle him plein 3110
To every point, what it amonteth.
And if so be that he misconteth,
To make in his answere a faile,
Ther schal non other thing availe,
The king seith, bot he schal be ded
And lese hise goodes and his hed.
The knyht was sori of this thing
And wolde excuse him to the king,
Bot he ne wolde him noght forbere,
And thus the knyht of his ansuere 3120
Goth hom to take avisement:
Bot after his entendement
The more he caste his wit aboute,
The more he stant therof in doute.
Tho wiste he wel the kinges herte,
That he the deth ne scholde asterte,
And such a sorwe hath to him take,
That gladschipe he hath al forsake.
He thoghte ferst upon his lif,
And after that upon his wif, 3130
Upon his children ek also,
Of whiche he hadde dowhtres tuo;
The yongest of hem hadde of age
Fourtiene yer, and of visage
Sche was riht fair, and of stature
Lich to an hevenely figure,
And of manere and goodli speche,
Thogh men wolde alle Londes seche,
Thei scholden noght have founde hir like.
Sche sih hire fader sorwe and sike, 3140
And wiste noght the cause why;
So cam sche to him prively,
And that was where he made his mone
Withinne a Gardin al him one;
Upon hire knes sche gan doun falle
With humble herte and to him calle,
And seide: "O goode fader diere,
Why make ye thus hevy chiere,
And I wot nothing how it is?
And wel ye knowen, fader, this, 3150
What aventure that you felle
Ye myhte it saufly to me telle,
For I have ofte herd you seid,
That ye such trust have on me leid,
That to my soster ne my brother,
In al this world ne to non other,
Ye dorste telle a privite
So wel, my fader, as to me.
Forthi, my fader, I you preie,
Ne casteth noght that herte aweie, 3160
For I am sche that wolde kepe
Youre honour." And with that to wepe
Hire yhe mai noght be forbore,
Sche wissheth forto ben unbore,
Er that hire fader so mistriste
To tellen hire of that he wiste:
And evere among merci sche cride,
That he ne scholde his conseil hide
From hire that so wolde him good
And was so nyh his fleissh and blod. 3170
So that with wepinge ate laste
His chiere upon his child he caste,
And sorwfulli to that sche preide
He tolde his tale and thus he seide:
"The sorwe, dowhter, which I make
Is noght al only for my sake,
Bot for thee bothe and for you alle:
For such a chance is me befalle,
That I schal er this thridde day
Lese al that evere I lese may, 3180
Mi lif and al my good therto:
Therfore it is I sorwe so."
"What is the cause, helas!" quod sche,
"Mi fader, that ye scholden be
Ded and destruid in such a wise?"
And he began the pointz devise,
Whiche as the king told him be mowthe,
And seid hir pleinly that he cowthe
Ansuere unto no point of this.
And sche, that hiereth how it is, 3190
Hire conseil yaf and seide tho:
"Mi fader, sithen it is so,
That ye can se non other weie,
Bot that ye moste nedes deie,
I wolde preie of you a thing:
Let me go with you to the king,
And ye schull make him understonde
How ye, my wittes forto fonde,
Have leid your ansuere upon me;
And telleth him, in such degre 3200
Upon my word ye wole abide
To lif or deth, what so betide.
For yit par chaunce I may pourchace
With som good word the kinges grace,
Your lif and ek your good to save;
For ofte schal a womman have
Thing which a man mai noght areche."
The fader herde his dowhter speche,
And thoghte ther was resoun inne,
And sih his oghne lif to winne 3210
He cowthe don himself no cure;
So betre him thoghte in aventure
To put his lif and al his good,
Than in the maner as it stod
His lif in certein forto lese.
And thus thenkende he gan to chese
To do the conseil of this Maide,
And tok the pourpos which sche saide.
The dai was come and forth thei gon,
Unto the Court thei come anon, 3220
Wher as the king in juggement
Was set and hath this knyht assent.
Arraied in hire beste wise
This Maiden with hire wordes wise
Hire fader ladde be the hond
Into the place, wher he fond
The king with othre whiche he wolde,
And to the king knelende he tolde
As he enformed was tofore,
And preith the king that he therfore 3230
His dowhtres wordes wolde take,
And seith that he wol undertake
Upon hire wordes forto stonde.
Tho was ther gret merveile on honde,
That he, which was so wys a knyht,
His lif upon so yong a wyht
Besette wolde in jeupartie,
And manye it hielden for folie:
Bot ate laste natheles
The king comandeth ben in pes, 3240
And to this Maide he caste his chiere,
And seide he wolde hire tale hiere,
He bad hire speke, and sche began:
"Mi liege lord, so as I can,"
Quod sche, "the pointz of whiche I herde,
Thei schul of reson ben ansuerde.
The ferste I understonde is this,
What thing of al the world it is,
Which men most helpe and hath lest nede.
Mi liege lord, this wolde I rede: 3250
The Erthe it is, which everemo
With mannes labour is bego;
Als wel in wynter as in Maii
The mannes hond doth what he mai
To helpe it forth and make it riche,
And forthi men it delve and dyche
And eren it with strengthe of plowh,
Wher it hath of himself ynowh,
So that his nede is ate leste.
For every man and bridd and beste, 3260
And flour and gras and rote and rinde,
And every thing be weie of kynde
Schal sterve, and Erthe it schal become;
As it was out of Erthe nome,
It schal to therthe torne ayein:
And thus I mai be resoun sein
That Erthe is the most nedeles,
And most men helpe it natheles.
So that, my lord, touchende of this
I have ansuerd hou that it is. 3270
That other point I understod,
Which most is worth and most is good,
And costeth lest a man to kepe:
Mi lord, if ye woll take kepe,
I seie it is Humilite,
Thurgh which the hihe trinite
As for decerte of pure love
Unto Marie from above,
Of that he knew hire humble entente,
His oghne Sone adoun he sente, 3280
Above alle othre and hire he ches
For that vertu which bodeth pes:
So that I may be resoun calle
Humilite most worth of alle.
And lest it costeth to maintiene,
In al the world as it is sene;
For who that hath humblesce on honde,
He bringth no werres into londe,
For he desireth for the beste
To setten every man in reste. 3290
Thus with your hihe reverence
Me thenketh that this evidence
As to this point is sufficant.
And touchende of the remenant,
Which is the thridde of youre axinges,
What leste is worth of alle thinges,
And costeth most, I telle it, Pride;
Which mai noght in the hevene abide,
For Lucifer with hem that felle
Bar Pride with him into helle. 3300
Ther was Pride of to gret a cost,
Whan he for Pride hath hevene lost;
And after that in Paradis
Adam for Pride loste his pris:
In Midelerthe and ek also
Pride is the cause of alle wo,
That al the world ne may suffise
To stanche of Pride the reprise:
Pride is the heved of alle Sinne,
Which wasteth al and mai noght winne; 3310
Pride is of every mis the pricke,
Pride is the werste of alle wicke,
And costneth most and lest is worth
In place where he hath his forth.
Thus have I seid that I wol seie
Of myn answere, and to you preie,
Mi liege lord, of youre office
That ye such grace and such justice
Ordeigne for mi fader hiere,
That after this, whan men it hiere, 3320
The world therof mai speke good."
The king, which reson understod
And hath al herd how sche hath said,
Was inly glad and so wel paid
That al his wraththe is overgo:
And he began to loke tho
Upon this Maiden in the face,
In which he fond so mochel grace,
That al his pris on hire he leide,
In audience and thus he seide: 3330
"Mi faire Maide, wel thee be!
Of thin ansuere and ek of thee
Me liketh wel, and as thou wilt,
Foryive be thi fader gilt.
And if thou were of such lignage,
That thou to me were of parage,
And that thi fader were a Pier,
As he is now a Bachilier,
So seker as I have a lif,
Thou scholdest thanne be my wif. 3340
Bot this I seie natheles,
That I wol schape thin encress;
What worldes good that thou wolt crave,
Axe of my yifte and thou schalt have."
And sche the king with wordes wise
Knelende thonketh in this wise:
"Mi liege lord, god mot you quite!
Mi fader hier hath bot a lite
Of warison, and that he wende
Hadde al be lost; bot now amende 3350
He mai wel thurgh your noble grace."
With that the king riht in his place
Anon forth in that freisshe hete
An Erldom, which thanne of eschete
Was late falle into his hond,
Unto this knyht with rente and lond
Hath yove and with his chartre sesed;
And thus was all the noise appesed.
This Maiden, which sat on hire knes
Tofore the king, hise charitees 3360
Comendeth, and seide overmore:
"Mi liege lord, riht now tofore
Ye seide, as it is of record,
That if my fader were a lord
And Pier unto these othre grete,
Ye wolden for noght elles lete,
That I ne scholde be your wif;
And this wot every worthi lif,
A kinges word it mot ben holde.
Forthi, my lord, if that ye wolde 3370
So gret a charite fulfille,
God wot it were wel my wille:
For he which was a Bacheler,
Mi fader, is now mad a Pier;
So whenne as evere that I cam,
An Erles dowhter now I am."
This yonge king, which peised al,
Hire beaute and hir wit withal,
As he that was with love hent,
Anon therto yaf his assent. 3380
He myhte noght the maide asterte,
That sche nis ladi of his herte;
So that he tok hire to his wif,
To holde whyl that he hath lif:
And thus the king toward his knyht
Acordeth him, as it is riht.
And over this good is to wite,
In the Cronique as it is write,
This noble king of whom I tolde
Of Spaine be tho daies olde 3390
The kingdom hadde in governance,
And as the bok makth remembrance,
Alphonse was his propre name:
The knyht also, if I schal name,
Danz Petro hihte, and as men telle,
His dowhter wyse Peronelle
Was cleped, which was full of grace:
And that was sene in thilke place,
Wher sche hir fader out of teene
Hath broght and mad hirself a qweene, 3400
Of that sche hath so wel desclosed
The pointz wherof sche was opposed.
Lo now, my Sone, as thou myht hiere,
Of al this thing to my matiere
Bot on I take, and that is Pride,
To whom no grace mai betide:
In hevene he fell out of his stede,
And Paradis him was forbede,
The goode men in Erthe him hate,
So that to helle he mot algate, 3410
Where every vertu schal be weyved
And every vice be received.
Bot Humblesce is al otherwise,
Which most is worth, and no reprise
It takth ayein, bot softe and faire,
If eny thing stond in contraire,
With humble speche it is redresced:
Thus was this yonge Maiden blessed,
The which I spak of now tofore,
Hire fader lif sche gat therfore, 3420
And wan with al the kinges love.
Forthi, my Sone, if thou wolt love,
It sit thee wel to leve Pride
And take Humblesce upon thi side;
The more of grace thou schalt gete.
Mi fader, I woll noght foryete
Of this that ye have told me hiere,
And if that eny such manere
Of humble port mai love appaie,
Hierafterward I thenke assaie: 3430
Bot now forth over I beseche
That ye more of my schrifte seche.
Mi goode Sone, it schal be do:
Now herkne and ley an Ere to;
For as touchende of Prides fare,
Als ferforth as I can declare
In cause of vice, in cause of love,
That hast thou pleinly herd above,
So that ther is nomor to seie
Touchende of that; bot other weie 3440
Touchende Envie I thenke telle,
Which hath the propre kinde of helle,
Withoute cause to misdo
Toward himself and othre also,
Hierafterward as understonde
Thou schalt the spieces, as thei stonde.

Explicit Liber Primus

Incipit Liber Secundus

Inuidie culpa magis est attrita dolore,
Nam sua mens nullo tempore leta manet:
Quo gaudent alii, dolet ille, nec vnus amicus
Est, cui de puro comoda velle facit.
Proximitatis honor sua corda veretur, et omnis
Est sibi leticia sic aliena dolor.
Hoc etenim vicium quam sepe repugnat amanti,
Non sibi, set reliquis, dum fauet ipsa Venus.
Est amor ex proprio motu fantasticus, et que
Gaudia fert alius, credit obesse sibi.

Now after Pride the secounde
Ther is, which many a woful stounde
Towardes othre berth aboute
Withinne himself and noght withoute;
For in his thoght he brenneth evere,
Whan that he wot an other levere
Or more vertuous than he,
Which passeth him in his degre;
Therof he takth his maladie:
That vice is cleped hot Envie. 10
Forthi, my Sone, if it be so
Thou art or hast ben on of tho,
As forto speke in loves cas,
If evere yit thin herte was
Sek of an other mannes hele?
So god avance my querele,
Mi fader, ye, a thousend sithe:
Whanne I have sen an other blithe
Of love, and hadde a goodly chiere,
Ethna, which brenneth yer be yere, 20
Was thanne noght so hot as I
Of thilke Sor which prively
Min hertes thoght withinne brenneth.
The Schip which on the wawes renneth,
And is forstormed and forblowe,
Is noght more peined for a throwe
Than I am thanne, whanne I se
An other which that passeth me
In that fortune of loves yifte.
Bot, fader, this I telle in schrifte, 30
That is nowher bot in o place;
For who that lese or finde grace
In other stede, it mai noght grieve:
Bot this ye mai riht wel believe,
Toward mi ladi that I serve,
Thogh that I wiste forto sterve,
Min herte is full of such sotie,
That I myself mai noght chastie.
Whan I the Court se of Cupide
Aproche unto my ladi side 40
Of hem that lusti ben and freisshe,-
Thogh it availe hem noght a reisshe,
Bot only that thei ben in speche,-
My sorwe is thanne noght to seche:
Bot whan thei rounen in hire Ere,
Than groweth al my moste fere,
And namly whan thei talen longe;
My sorwes thanne be so stronge
Of that I se hem wel at ese,
I can noght telle my desese. 50
Bot, Sire, as of my ladi selve,
Thogh sche have wowers ten or twelve,
For no mistrust I have of hire
Me grieveth noght, for certes, Sire,
I trowe, in al this world to seche,
Nis womman that in dede and speche
Woll betre avise hire what sche doth,
Ne betre, forto seie a soth,
Kepe hire honour ate alle tide,
And yit get hire a thank beside. 60
Bot natheles I am beknowe,
That whanne I se at eny throwe,
Or elles if I mai it hiere,
That sche make eny man good chiere,
Thogh I therof have noght to done,
Mi thought wol entermette him sone.
For thogh I be miselve strange,
Envie makth myn herte change,
That I am sorghfully bestad
Of that I se an other glad 70
With hire; bot of other alle,
Of love what so mai befalle,
Or that he faile or that he spede,
Therof take I bot litel heede.
Now have I seid, my fader, al
As of this point in special,
Als ferforthli as I have wist.
Now axeth further what you list.
Mi Sone, er I axe eny more,
I thenke somdiel for thi lore 80
Telle an ensample of this matiere
Touchende Envie, as thou schalt hiere.
Write in Civile this I finde:
Thogh it be noght the houndes kinde
To ete chaf, yit wol he werne
An Oxe which comth to the berne,
Therof to taken eny fode.
And thus, who that it understode,
It stant of love in many place:
Who that is out of loves grace 90
And mai himselven noght availe,
He wolde an other scholde faile;
And if he may put eny lette,
He doth al that he mai to lette.
Wherof I finde, as thou schalt wite,
To this pourpos a tale write.
Ther ben of suche mo than twelve,
That ben noght able as of hemselve
To gete love, and for Envie
Upon alle othre thei aspie; 100
And for hem lacketh that thei wolde,
Thei kepte that non other scholde
Touchende of love his cause spede:
Wherof a gret ensample I rede,
Which unto this matiere acordeth,
As Ovide in his bok recordeth,
How Poliphemus whilom wroghte,
Whan that he Galathee besoghte
Of love, which he mai noght lacche.
That made him forto waite and wacche 110
Be alle weies how it ferde,
Til ate laste he knew and herde
How that an other hadde leve
To love there as he mot leve,
As forto speke of eny sped:
So that he knew non other red,
Bot forto wayten upon alle,
Til he may se the chance falle
That he hire love myhte grieve,
Which he himself mai noght achieve. 120
This Galathee, seith the Poete,
Above alle othre was unmete
Of beaute, that men thanne knewe,
And hadde a lusti love and trewe,
A Bacheler in his degree,
Riht such an other as was sche,
On whom sche hath hire herte set,
So that it myhte noght be let
For yifte ne for no beheste,
That sche ne was al at his heste. 130
This yonge knyht Acis was hote,
Which hire ayeinward als so hote
Al only loveth and nomo.
Hierof was Poliphemus wo
Thurgh pure Envie, and evere aspide,
And waiteth upon every side,
Whan he togedre myhte se
This yonge Acis with Galathe.
So longe he waiteth to and fro,
Til ate laste he fond hem tuo, 140
In prive place wher thei stode
To speke and have here wordes goode.
The place wher as he hem syh,
It was under a banke nyh
The grete See, and he above
Stod and behield the lusti love
Which ech of hem to other made
With goodly chiere and wordes glade,
That al his herte hath set afyre
Of pure Envie: and as a fyre 150
Which fleth out of a myhti bowe,
Aweie he fledde for a throwe,
As he that was for love wod,
Whan that he sih how that it stod.
This Polipheme a Geant was;
And whan he sih the sothe cas,
How Galathee him hath forsake
And Acis to hire love take,
His herte mai it noght forbere
That he ne roreth lich a Bere; 160
And as it were a wilde beste,
The whom no reson mihte areste,
He ran Ethna the hell aboute,
Wher nevere yit the fyr was oute,
Fulfild of sorghe and gret desese,
That he syh Acis wel at ese.
Til ate laste he him bethoghte,
As he which al Envie soghte,
And torneth to the banke ayein,
Wher he with Galathee hath seyn 170
Acis, whom that he thoghte grieve,
Thogh he himself mai noght relieve.
This Geant with his ruide myht
Part of the banke he schof doun riht,
The which evene upon Acis fell,
So that with fallinge of this hell
This Poliphemus Acis slowh,
Wherof sche made sorwe ynowh.
And as sche fledde fro the londe,
Neptunus tok hire into honde 180
And kept hire in so sauf a place
Fro Polipheme and his manace,
That he with al his false Envie
Ne mihte atteigne hir compaignie.
This Galathee of whom I speke,
That of hirself mai noght be wreke,
Withouten eny semblant feigned
Sche hath hire loves deth compleigned,
And with hire sorwe and with hire wo
Sche hath the goddes moeved so, 190
That thei of pite and of grace
Have Acis in the same place,
Ther he lai ded, into a welle
Transformed, as the bokes telle,
With freisshe stremes and with cliere,
As he whilom with lusti chiere
Was freissh his love forto qweme.
And with this ruide Polipheme
For his Envie and for his hate
Thei were wrothe. And thus algate, 200
Mi Sone, thou myht understonde,
That if thou wolt in grace stonde
With love, thou most leve Envie:
And as thou wolt for thi partie
Toward thi love stonde fre,
So most thou soffre an other be,
What so befalle upon the chaunce:
For it is an unwys vengance,
Which to non other man is lief,
And is unto himselve grief. 210
Mi fader, this ensample is good;
Bot how so evere that it stod
With Poliphemes love as tho,
It schal noght stonde with me so,
To worchen eny felonie
In love for no such Envie.
Forthi if ther oght elles be,
Now axeth forth, in what degre
It is, and I me schal confesse
With schrifte unto youre holinesse. 220
Mi goode Sone, yit ther is
A vice revers unto this,
Which envious takth his gladnesse
Of that he seth the hevinesse
Of othre men: for his welfare
Is whanne he wot an other care:
Of that an other hath a fall,
He thenkth himself arist withal.
Such is the gladschipe of Envie
In worldes thing, and in partie 230
Fulofte times ek also
In loves cause it stant riht so.
If thou, my Sone, hast joie had,
Whan thou an other sihe unglad,
Schrif the therof. Mi fader, yis:
I am beknowe unto you this.
Of these lovers that loven streyte,
And for that point which thei coveite
Ben poursuiantz fro yeer to yere
In loves Court, whan I may hiere 240
How that thei clymbe upon the whel,
And whan thei wene al schal be wel,
Thei ben doun throwen ate laste,
Thanne am I fedd of that thei faste,
And lawhe of that I se hem loure;
And thus of that thei brewe soure
I drinke swete, and am wel esed
Of that I wot thei ben desesed.
Bot this which I you telle hiere
Is only for my lady diere; 250
That for non other that I knowe
Me reccheth noght who overthrowe,
Ne who that stonde in love upriht:
Bot be he squier, be he knyht,
Which to my ladiward poursuieth,
The more he lest of that he suieth,
The mor me thenketh that I winne,
And am the more glad withinne
Of that I wot him sorwe endure.
For evere upon such aventure 260
It is a confort, as men sein,
To him the which is wo besein
To sen an other in his peine,
So that thei bothe mai compleigne.
Wher I miself mai noght availe
To sen an other man travaile,
I am riht glad if he be let;
And thogh I fare noght the bet,
His sorwe is to myn herte a game:
Whan that I knowe it is the same 270
Which to mi ladi stant enclined,
And hath his love noght termined,
I am riht joifull in my thoght.
If such Envie grieveth oght,
As I beknowe me coupable,
Ye that be wys and resonable,
Mi fader, telleth youre avis.
Mi Sone, Envie into no pris
Of such a forme, I understonde,
Ne mihte be no resoun stonde 280
For this Envie hath such a kinde,
That he wole sette himself behinde
To hindre with an othre wyht,
And gladly lese his oghne riht
To make an other lesen his.
And forto knowe how it so is,
A tale lich to this matiere
I thenke telle, if thou wolt hiere,
To schewe proprely the vice
Of this Envie and the malice. 290
Of Jupiter this finde I write,
How whilom that he wolde wite
Upon the pleigntes whiche he herde,
Among the men how that it ferde,
As of here wrong condicion
To do justificacion:
And for that cause doun he sente
An Angel, which about wente,
That he the sothe knowe mai.
So it befell upon a dai 300
This Angel, which him scholde enforme,
Was clothed in a mannes forme,
And overtok, I understonde,
Tuo men that wenten over londe,
Thurgh whiche he thoghte to aspie
His cause, and goth in compaignie.
This Angel with hise wordes wise
Opposeth hem in sondri wise,
Now lowde wordes and now softe,
That mad hem to desputen ofte, 310
And ech of hem his reson hadde.
And thus with tales he hem ladde
With good examinacioun,
Til he knew the condicioun,
What men thei were bothe tuo;
And sih wel ate laste tho,
That on of hem was coveitous,
And his fela was envious.
And thus, whan he hath knowlechinge,
Anon he feigneth departinge, 320
And seide he mot algate wende.
Bot herkne now what fell at ende:
For thanne he made hem understonde
That he was there of goddes sonde,
And seide hem, for the kindeschipe
That thei have don him felaschipe,
He wole hem do som grace ayein,
And bad that on of hem schal sein
What thing him is lievest to crave,
And he it schal of yifte have; 330
And over that ek forth withal
He seith that other have schal
The double of that his felaw axeth;
And thus to hem his grace he taxeth.
The coveitous was wonder glad,
And to that other man he bad
And seith that he ferst axe scholde:
For he supposeth that he wolde
Make his axinge of worldes good;
For thanne he knew wel how it stod, 340
That he himself be double weyhte
Schal after take, and thus be sleyhte,
Be cause that he wolde winne,
He bad his fela ferst beginne.
This Envious, thogh it be late,
Whan that he syh he mot algate
Make his axinge ferst, he thoghte,
If he worschipe or profit soghte,
It schal be doubled to his fiere:
That wolde he chese in no manere. 350
Bot thanne he scheweth what he was
Toward Envie, and in this cas
Unto this Angel thus he seide
And for his yifte this he preide,
To make him blind of his on yhe,
So that his fela nothing syhe.
This word was noght so sone spoke,
That his on yhe anon was loke,
And his felawh forthwith also
Was blind of bothe his yhen tuo. 360
Tho was that other glad ynowh,
That on wepte, and that other lowh,
He sette his on yhe at no cost,
Wherof that other two hath lost.
Of thilke ensample which fell tho,
Men tellen now fulofte so,
The world empeireth comunly:
And yit wot non the cause why;
For it acordeth noght to kinde
Min oghne harm to seche and finde 370
Of that I schal my brother grieve;
It myhte nevere wel achieve.
What seist thou, Sone, of this folie?
Mi fader, bot I scholde lie,
Upon the point which ye have seid
Yit was myn herte nevere leid,
Bot in the wise as I you tolde.
Bot overmore, if that ye wolde
Oght elles to my schrifte seie
Touchende Envie, I wolde preie. 380
Mi Sone, that schal wel be do:
Now herkne and ley thin Ere to.
Touchende as of Envious brod
I wot noght on of alle good;
Bot natheles, suche as thei be,
Yit is ther on, and that is he
Which cleped in Detraccioun.
And to conferme his accioun,
He hath withholde Malebouche,
Whos tunge neither pyl ne crouche 390
Mai hyre, so that he pronounce
A plein good word withoute frounce
Awher behinde a mannes bak.
For thogh he preise, he fint som lak,
Which of his tale is ay the laste,
That al the pris schal overcaste:
And thogh ther be no cause why,
Yit wole he jangle noght forthi,
As he which hath the heraldie
Of hem that usen forto lye. 400
For as the Netle which up renneth
The freisshe rede Roses brenneth
And makth hem fade and pale of hewe,
Riht so this fals Envious hewe,
In every place wher he duelleth,
With false wordes whiche he telleth
He torneth preisinge into blame
And worschipe into worldes schame.
Of such lesinge as he compasseth,
Is non so good that he ne passeth 410
Betwen his teeth and is bacbited,
And thurgh his false tunge endited:
Lich to the Scharnebudes kinde,
Of whos nature this I finde,
That in the hoteste of the dai,
Whan comen is the merie Maii,
He sprat his wynge and up he fleth:
And under al aboute he seth
The faire lusti floures springe,
Bot therof hath he no likinge; 420
Bot where he seth of eny beste
The felthe, ther he makth his feste,
And therupon he wole alyhte,
Ther liketh him non other sihte.
Riht so this janglere Envious,
Thogh he a man se vertuous
And full of good condicioun,
Therof makth he no mencioun:
Bot elles, be it noght so lyte,
Wherof that he mai sette a wyte, 430
Ther renneth he with open mouth,
Behinde a man and makth it couth.
Bot al the vertu which he can,
That wole he hide of every man,
And openly the vice telle,
As he which of the Scole of helle
Is tawht, and fostred with Envie
Of houshold and of compaignie,
Wher that he hath his propre office
To sette on every man a vice. 440
How so his mouth be comely,
His word sit evermore awry
And seith the worste that he may.
And in this wise now a day
In loves Court a man mai hiere
Fulofte pleigne of this matiere,
That many envious tale is stered,
Wher that it mai noght ben ansuered;
Bot yit fulofte it is believed,
And many a worthi love is grieved 450
Thurgh bacbitinge of fals Envie.
If thou have mad such janglerie
In loves Court, mi Sone, er this,
Schrif thee therof. Mi fader, yis:
Bot wite ye how? noght openly,
Bot otherwhile prively,
Whan I my diere ladi mete,
And thenke how that I am noght mete
Unto hire hihe worthinesse,
And ek I se the besinesse 460
Of al this yonge lusty route,
Whiche alday pressen hire aboute,
And ech of hem his time awaiteth,
And ech of hem his tale affaiteth,
Al to deceive an innocent,
Which woll noght ben of here assent;
And for men sein unknowe unkest,
Hire thombe sche holt in hire fest
So clos withinne hire oghne hond,
That there winneth noman lond; 470
Sche lieveth noght al that sche hiereth,
And thus fulofte hirself sche skiereth
And is al war of "hadde I wist":-
Bot for al that myn herte arist,
Whanne I thes comun lovers se,
That woll noght holden hem to thre,
Bot welnyh loven overal,
Min herte is Envious withal,
And evere I am adrad of guile,
In aunter if with eny wyle 480
Thei mihte hire innocence enchaunte.
Forthi my wordes ofte I haunte
Behynden hem, so as I dar,
Wherof my ladi may be war:
I sai what evere comth to mowthe,
And worse I wolde, if that I cowthe;
For whanne I come unto hir speche,
Al that I may enquere and seche
Of such deceipte, I telle it al,
And ay the werste in special. 490
So fayn I wolde that sche wiste
How litel thei ben forto triste,
And what thei wolde and what thei mente,
So as thei be of double entente:
Thus toward hem that wicke mene
My wicked word was evere grene.
And natheles, the soth to telle,
In certain if it so befelle
That althertrewest man ybore,
To chese among a thousend score, 500
Which were alfulli forto triste,
Mi ladi lovede, and I it wiste,
Yit rathere thanne he scholde spede,
I wolde swiche tales sprede
To my ladi, if that I myhte,
That I scholde al his love unrihte,
And therto wolde I do mi peine.
For certes thogh I scholde feigne,
And telle that was nevere thoght,
For al this world I myhte noght 510
To soffre an othre fully winne,
Ther as I am yit to beginne.
For be thei goode, or be thei badde,
I wolde non my ladi hadde;
And that me makth fulofte aspie
And usen wordes of Envie,
Al forto make hem bere a blame.
And that is bot of thilke same,
The whiche unto my ladi drawe,
For evere on hem I rounge and gknawe 520
And hindre hem al that evere I mai;
And that is, sothly forto say,
Bot only to my lady selve:
I telle it noght to ten ne tuelve,
Therof I wol me wel avise,
To speke or jangle in eny wise
That toucheth to my ladi name,
The which in ernest and in game
I wolde save into my deth;
For me were levere lacke breth 530
Than speken of hire name amis.
Now have ye herd touchende of this,
Mi fader, in confessioun:
And therfor of Detraccioun
In love, of that I have mispoke,
Tel how ye wole it schal be wroke.
I am al redy forto bere
Mi peine, and also to forbere
What thing that ye wol noght allowe;
For who is bounden, he mot bowe. 540
So wol I bowe unto youre heste,
For I dar make this beheste,
That I to yow have nothing hid,
Bot told riht as it is betid;
And otherwise of no mispeche,
Mi conscience forto seche,
I can noght of Envie finde,
That I mispoke have oght behinde
Wherof love owhte be mispaid.
Now have ye herd and I have said; 550
What wol ye, fader, that I do?
Mi Sone, do nomore so,
Bot evere kep thi tunge stille,
Thou miht the more have of thi wille.
For as thou saist thiselven here,
Thi ladi is of such manere,
So wys, so war in alle thinge,
It nedeth of no bakbitinge
That thou thi ladi mis enforme:
For whan sche knoweth al the forme, 560
How that thiself art envious,
Thou schalt noght be so gracious
As thou peraunter scholdest elles.
Ther wol noman drinke of tho welles
Whiche as he wot is puyson inne;
And ofte swich as men beginne
Towardes othre, swich thei finde,
That set hem ofte fer behinde,
Whan that thei wene be before.
Mi goode Sone, and thou therfore 570
Bewar and lef thi wicke speche,
Wherof hath fallen ofte wreche
To many a man befor this time.
For who so wole his handes lime,
Thei mosten be the more unclene;
For many a mote schal be sene,
That wolde noght cleve elles there;
And that schold every wys man fere:
For who so wol an other blame,
He secheth ofte his oghne schame, 580
Which elles myhte be riht stille.
Forthi if that it be thi wille
To stonde upon amendement,
A tale of gret entendement
I thenke telle for thi sake,
Wherof thou miht ensample take.
A worthi kniht in Cristes lawe
Of grete Rome, as is the sawe,
The Sceptre hadde forto rihte;
Tiberie Constantin he hihte, 590
Whos wif was cleped Ytalie:
Bot thei togedre of progenie
No children hadde bot a Maide;
And sche the god so wel apaide,
That al the wide worldes fame
Spak worschipe of hire goode name.
Constance, as the Cronique seith,
Sche hihte, and was so ful of feith,
That the greteste of Barbarie,
Of hem whiche usen marchandie, 600
Sche hath converted, as thei come
To hire upon a time in Rome,
To schewen such thing as thei broghte;
Whiche worthili of hem sche boghte,
And over that in such a wise
Sche hath hem with hire wordes wise
Of Cristes feith so full enformed,
That thei therto ben all conformed,
So that baptesme thei receiven
And alle here false goddes weyven. 610
Whan thei ben of the feith certein,
Thei gon to Barbarie ayein,
And ther the Souldan for hem sente
And axeth hem to what entente
Thei have here ferste feith forsake.
And thei, whiche hadden undertake
The rihte feith to kepe and holde,
The matiere of here tale tolde
With al the hole circumstance.
And whan the Souldan of Constance 620
Upon the point that thei ansuerde
The beaute and the grace herde,
As he which thanne was to wedde,
In alle haste his cause spedde
To sende for the mariage.
And furthermor with good corage
He seith, be so he mai hire have,
That Crist, which cam this world to save,
He woll believe: and this recorded,
Thei ben on either side acorded, 630
And therupon to make an ende
The Souldan hise hostages sende
To Rome, of Princes Sones tuelve:
Wherof the fader in himselve
Was glad, and with the Pope avised
Tuo Cardinals he hath assissed
With othre lordes many mo,
That with his doghter scholden go,
To se the Souldan be converted.
Bot that which nevere was wel herted, 640
Envie, tho began travaile
In destourbance of this spousaile
So prively that non was war.
The Moder which this Souldan bar
Was thanne alyve, and thoghte this
Unto hirself: "If it so is
Mi Sone him wedde in this manere,
Than have I lost my joies hiere,
For myn astat schal so be lassed."
Thenkende thus sche hath compassed 650
Be sleihte how that sche may beguile
Hire Sone; and fell withinne a while,
Betwen hem two whan that thei were,
Sche feigneth wordes in his Ere,
And in this wise gan to seie:
"Mi Sone, I am be double weie
With al myn herte glad and blithe,
For that miself have ofte sithe
Desired thou wolt, as men seith,
Receive and take a newe feith, 660
Which schal be forthringe of thi lif:
And ek so worschipful a wif,
The doughter of an Emperour,
To wedde it schal be gret honour.
Forthi, mi Sone, I you beseche
That I such grace mihte areche,
Whan that my doughter come schal,
That I mai thanne in special,
So as me thenkth it is honeste,
Be thilke which the ferste feste 670
Schal make unto hire welcominge."
The Souldan granteth hire axinge,
And sche therof was glad ynowh:
For under that anon sche drowh
With false wordes that sche spak
Covine of deth behinde his bak.
And therupon hire ordinance
She made so, that whan Constance
Was come forth with the Romeins,
Of clerkes and of Citezeins, 680
A riche feste sche hem made:
And most whan that thei weren glade,
With fals covine which sche hadde
Hire clos Envie tho sche spradde,
And alle tho that hadden be
Or in apert or in prive
Of conseil to the mariage,
Sche slowh hem in a sodein rage
Endlong the bord as thei be set,
So that it myhte noght be let; 690
Hire oghne Sone was noght quit,
Bot deide upon the same plit.
Bot what the hihe god wol spare
It mai for no peril misfare:
This worthi Maiden which was there
Stod thanne, as who seith, ded for feere,
To se the feste how that it stod,
Which al was torned into blod:
The Dissh forthwith the Coppe and al
Bebled thei weren overal; 700
Sche sih hem deie on every side;
No wonder thogh sche wepte and cride
Makende many a wofull mone.
Whan al was slain bot sche al one,
This olde fend, this Sarazine,
Let take anon this Constantine
With al the good sche thider broghte,
And hath ordeined, as sche thoghte,
A nakid Schip withoute stiere,
In which the good and hire in fiere, 710
Vitailed full for yeres fyve,
Wher that the wynd it wolde dryve,
Sche putte upon the wawes wilde.
Bot he which alle thing mai schilde,
Thre yer, til that sche cam to londe,
Hire Schip to stiere hath take in honde,
And in Northumberlond aryveth;
And happeth thanne that sche dryveth
Under a Castel with the flod,
Which upon Humber banke stod 720
And was the kynges oghne also,
The which Allee was cleped tho,
A Saxon and a worthi knyht,
Bot he believed noght ariht.
Of this Castell was Chastellein
Elda the kinges Chamberlein,
A knyhtly man after his lawe;
And whan he sih upon the wawe
The Schip drivende al one so,
He bad anon men scholden go 730
To se what it betokne mai.
This was upon a Somer dai,
The Schip was loked and sche founde;
Elda withinne a litel stounde
It wiste, and with his wif anon
Toward this yonge ladi gon,
Wher that thei founden gret richesse;
Bot sche hire wolde noght confesse,
Whan thei hire axen what sche was.
And natheles upon the cas 740
Out of the Schip with gret worschipe
Thei toke hire into felaschipe,
As thei that weren of hir glade:
Bot sche no maner joie made,
Bot sorweth sore of that sche fond
No cristendom in thilke lond;
Bot elles sche hath al hire wille,
And thus with hem sche duelleth stille.
Dame Hermyngheld, which was the wif
Of Elda, lich hire oghne lif 750
Constance loveth; and fell so,
Spekende alday betwen hem two,
Thurgh grace of goddes pourveance
This maiden tawhte the creance
Unto this wif so parfitly,
Upon a dai that faste by
In presence of hire housebonde,
Wher thei go walkende on the Stronde,
A blind man, which cam there lad,
Unto this wif criende he bad, 760
With bothe hise hondes up and preide
To hire, and in this wise he seide:
"O Hermyngeld, which Cristes feith,
Enformed as Constance seith,
Received hast, yif me my sihte."
Upon his word hire herte afflihte
Thenkende what was best to done,
Bot natheles sche herde his bone
And seide, "In trust of Cristes lawe,
Which don was on the crois and slawe, 770
Thou bysne man, behold and se."
With that to god upon his kne
Thonkende he tok his sihte anon,
Wherof thei merveile everychon,
Bot Elda wondreth most of alle:
This open thing which is befalle
Concludeth him be such a weie,
That he the feith mot nede obeie.
Now lest what fell upon this thing.
This Elda forth unto the king 780
A morwe tok his weie and rod,
And Hermyngeld at home abod
Forth with Constance wel at ese.
Elda, which thoghte his king to plese,
As he that thanne unwedded was,
Of Constance al the pleine cas
Als goodliche as he cowthe tolde.
The king was glad and seide he wolde
Come thider upon such a wise
That he him mihte of hire avise, 790
The time apointed forth withal.
This Elda triste in special
Upon a knyht, whom fro childhode
He hadde updrawe into manhode:
To him he tolde al that he thoghte,
Wherof that after him forthoghte;
And natheles at thilke tide
Unto his wif he bad him ride
To make redi alle thing
Ayein the cominge of the king, 800
And seith that he himself tofore
Thenkth forto come, and bad therfore
That he him kepe, and told him whanne.
This knyht rod forth his weie thanne;
And soth was that of time passed
He hadde in al his wit compassed
How he Constance myhte winne;
Bot he sih tho no sped therinne,
Wherof his lust began tabate,
And that was love is thanne hate; 810
Of hire honour he hadde Envie,
So that upon his tricherie
A lesinge in his herte he caste.
Til he cam home he hieth faste,
And doth his ladi tunderstonde
The Message of hire housebonde:
And therupon the longe dai
Thei setten thinges in arrai,
That al was as it scholde be
Of every thing in his degree; 820
And whan it cam into the nyht,
This wif hire hath to bedde dyht,
Wher that this Maiden with hire lay.
This false knyht upon delay
Hath taried til thei were aslepe,
As he that wolde his time kepe
His dedly werkes to fulfille;
And to the bed he stalketh stille,
Wher that he wiste was the wif,
And in his hond a rasour knif 830
He bar, with which hire throte he cutte,
And prively the knif he putte
Under that other beddes side,
Wher that Constance lai beside.
Elda cam hom the same nyht,
And stille with a prive lyht,
As he that wolde noght awake
His wif, he hath his weie take
Into the chambre, and ther liggende
He fond his dede wif bledende, 840
Wher that Constance faste by
Was falle aslepe; and sodeinly
He cride alowd, and sche awok,
And forth withal sche caste a lok
And sih this ladi blede there,
Wherof swoundende ded for fere
Sche was, and stille as eny Ston
She lay, and Elda therupon
Into the Castell clepeth oute,
And up sterte every man aboute, 850
Into the chambre and forth thei wente.
Bot he, which alle untrouthe mente,
This false knyht, among hem alle
Upon this thing which is befalle
Seith that Constance hath don this dede;
And to the bed with that he yede
After the falshed of his speche,
And made him there forto seche,
And fond the knif, wher he it leide,
And thanne he cride and thanne he seide, 860
"Lo, seth the knif al blody hiere!
What nedeth more in this matiere
To axe?" And thus hire innocence
He sclaundreth there in audience
With false wordes whiche he feigneth.
Bot yit for al that evere he pleigneth,
Elda no full credence tok:
And happeth that ther lay a bok,
Upon the which, whan he it sih,
This knyht hath swore and seid on hih, 870
That alle men it mihte wite,
"Now be this bok, which hier is write,
Constance is gultif, wel I wot."
With that the hond of hevene him smot
In tokne of that he was forswore,
That he hath bothe hise yhen lore,
Out of his hed the same stounde
Thei sterte, and so thei weren founde.
A vois was herd, whan that they felle,
Which seide, "O dampned man to helle, 880
Lo, thus hath god the sclaundre wroke
That thou ayein Constance hast spoke:
Beknow the sothe er that thou dye."
And he told out his felonie,
And starf forth with his tale anon.
Into the ground, wher alle gon,
This dede lady was begrave:
Elda, which thoghte his honour save,
Al that he mai restreigneth sorwe.
For the seconde day a morwe 890
The king cam, as thei were acorded;
And whan it was to him recorded
What god hath wroght upon this chaunce,
He tok it into remembrance
And thoghte more than he seide.
For al his hole herte he leide
Upon Constance, and seide he scholde
For love of hire, if that sche wolde,
Baptesme take and Cristes feith
Believe, and over that he seith 900
He wol hire wedde, and upon this
Asseured ech til other is.
And forto make schorte tales,
Ther cam a Bisschop out of Wales
Fro Bangor, and Lucie he hihte,
Which thurgh the grace of god almihte
The king with many an other mo
Hath cristned, and betwen hem tuo
He hath fulfild the mariage.
Bot for no lust ne for no rage 910
Sche tolde hem nevere what sche was;
And natheles upon the cas
The king was glad, how so it stod,
For wel he wiste and understod
Sche was a noble creature.
The hihe makere of nature
Hire hath visited in a throwe,
That it was openliche knowe
Sche was with childe be the king,
Wherof above al other thing 920
He thonketh god and was riht glad.
And fell that time he was bestad
Upon a werre and moste ride;
And whil he scholde there abide,
He lefte at hom to kepe his wif
Suche as he knew of holi lif,
Elda forth with the Bisschop eke;
And he with pouer goth to seke
Ayein the Scottes forto fonde
The werre which he tok on honde. 930
The time set of kinde is come,
This lady hath hire chambre nome,
And of a Sone bore full,
Wherof that sche was joiefull,
Sche was delivered sauf and sone.
The bisshop, as it was to done,
Yaf him baptesme and Moris calleth;
And therupon, as it befalleth,
With lettres writen of record
Thei sende unto here liege lord, 940
That kepers weren of the qweene:
And he that scholde go betwene,
The Messager, to Knaresburgh,
Which toun he scholde passe thurgh,
Ridende cam the ferste day.
The kinges Moder there lay,
Whos rihte name was Domilde,
Which after al the cause spilde:
For he, which thonk deserve wolde,
Unto this ladi goth and tolde 950
Of his Message al how it ferde.
And sche with feigned joie it herde
And yaf him yiftes largely,
Bot in the nyht al prively
Sche tok the lettres whiche he hadde,
Fro point to point and overradde,
As sche that was thurghout untrewe,
And let do wryten othre newe
In stede of hem, and thus thei spieke:
"Oure liege lord, we thee beseke 960
That thou with ous ne be noght wroth,
Though we such thing as is thee loth
Upon oure trowthe certefie.
Thi wif, which is of faierie,
Of such a child delivered is
Fro kinde which stant al amis:
Bot for it scholde noght be seie,
We have it kept out of the weie
For drede of pure worldes schame,
A povere child and in the name 970
Of thilke which is so misbore
We toke, and therto we be swore,
That non bot only thou and we
Schal knowen of this privete:
Moris it hatte, and thus men wene
That it was boren of the qweene
And of thin oghne bodi gete.
Bot this thing mai noght be foryete,
That thou ne sende ous word anon
What is thi wille therupon." 980
This lettre, as thou hast herd devise,
Was contrefet in such a wise
That noman scholde it aperceive:
And sche, which thoghte to deceive,
It leith wher sche that other tok.
This Messager, whan he awok,
And wiste nothing how it was,
Aros and rod the grete pas
And tok this lettre to the king.
And whan he sih this wonder thing, 990
He makth the Messager no chiere,
Bot natheles in wys manere
He wrote ayein, and yaf hem charge
That thei ne soffre noght at large
His wif to go, bot kepe hire stille,
Til thei have herd mor of his wille.
This Messager was yifteles,
Bot with this lettre natheles,
Or be him lief or be him loth,
In alle haste ayein he goth 1000
Be Knaresburgh, and as he wente,
Unto the Moder his entente
Of that he fond toward the king
He tolde; and sche upon this thing
Seith that he scholde abide al nyht
And made him feste and chiere ariht,
Feignende as thogh sche cowthe him thonk.
Bot he with strong wyn which he dronk
Forth with the travail of the day
Was drunke, aslepe and while he lay, 1010
Sche hath hise lettres overseie
And formed in an other weie.
Ther was a newe lettre write,
Which seith: "I do you forto wite,
That thurgh the conseil of you tuo
I stonde in point to ben undo,
As he which is a king deposed.
For every man it hath supposed,
How that my wif Constance is faie;
And if that I, thei sein, delaie 1020
To put hire out of compaignie,
The worschipe of my Regalie
Is lore; and over this thei telle,
Hire child schal noght among hem duelle,
To cleymen eny heritage.
So can I se non avantage,
Bot al is lost, if sche abide:
Forthi to loke on every side
Toward the meschief as it is,
I charge you and bidde this, 1030
That ye the same Schip vitaile,
In which that sche tok arivaile,
Therinne and putteth bothe tuo,
Hireself forthwith hire child also,
And so forth broght unto the depe
Betaketh hire the See to kepe.
Of foure daies time I sette,
That ye this thing no longer lette,
So that your lif be noght forsfet."
And thus this lettre contrefet 1040
The Messager, which was unwar,
Upon the kingeshalve bar,
And where he scholde it hath betake.
Bot whan that thei have hiede take,
And rad that writen is withinne,
So gret a sorwe thei beginne,
As thei here oghne Moder sihen
Brent in a fyr before here yhen:
Ther was wepinge and ther was wo,
Bot finaly the thing is do. 1050
Upon the See thei have hire broght,
Bot sche the cause wiste noght,
And thus upon the flod thei wone,
This ladi with hire yonge Sone:
And thanne hire handes to the hevene
Sche strawhte, and with a milde stevene
Knelende upon hire bare kne
Sche seide, "O hihe mageste,
Which sest the point of every trowthe,
Tak of thi wofull womman rowthe 1060
And of this child that I schal kepe."
And with that word sche gan to wepe,
Swounende as ded, and ther sche lay;
Bot he which alle thinges may
Conforteth hire, and ate laste
Sche loketh and hire yhen caste
Upon hire child and seide this:
"Of me no maner charge it is
What sorwe I soffre, bot of thee
Me thenkth it is a gret pite, 1070
For if I sterve thou schalt deie:
So mot I nedes be that weie
For Moderhed and for tendresse
With al myn hole besinesse
Ordeigne me for thilke office,
As sche which schal be thi Norrice."
Thus was sche strengthed forto stonde;
And tho sche tok hire child in honde
And yaf it sowke, and evere among
Sche wepte, and otherwhile song 1080
To rocke with hire child aslepe:
And thus hire oghne child to kepe
Sche hath under the goddes cure.
And so fell upon aventure,
Whan thilke yer hath mad his ende,
Hire Schip, so as it moste wende
Thurgh strengthe of wynd which god hath yive,
Estward was into Spaigne drive
Riht faste under a Castell wall,
Wher that an hethen Amirall 1090
Was lord, and he a Stieward hadde,
Oon Thelos, which al was badde,
A fals knyht and a renegat.
He goth to loke in what astat
The Schip was come, and there he fond
Forth with a child upon hire hond
This lady, wher sche was al one.
He tok good hiede of the persone,
And sih sche was a worthi wiht,
And thoghte he wolde upon the nyht 1100
Demene hire at his oghne wille,
And let hire be therinne stille,
That mo men sih sche noght that dai.
At goddes wille and thus sche lai,
Unknowe what hire schal betide;
And fell so that be nyhtes tide
This knyht withoute felaschipe
Hath take a bot and cam to Schipe,
And thoghte of hire his lust to take,
And swor, if sche him daunger make, 1110
That certeinly sche scholde deie.
Sche sih ther was non other weie,
And seide he scholde hire wel conforte,
That he ferst loke out ate porte,
That noman were nyh the stede,
Which myhte knowe what thei dede,
And thanne he mai do what he wolde.
He was riht glad that sche so tolde,
And to the porte anon he ferde:
Sche preide god, and he hire herde, 1120
And sodeinliche he was out throwe
And dreynt, and tho began to blowe
A wynd menable fro the lond,
And thus the myhti goddes hond
Hire hath conveied and defended.
And whan thre yer be full despended,
Hire Schip was drive upon a dai,
Wher that a gret Navye lay
Of Schipes, al the world at ones:
And as god wolde for the nones, 1130
Hire Schip goth in among hem alle,
And stinte noght, er it be falle
And hath the vessell undergete,
Which Maister was of al the Flete,
Bot there it resteth and abod.
This grete Schip on Anker rod;
The Lord cam forth, and whan he sih
That other ligge abord so nyh,
He wondreth what it myhte be,
And bad men to gon in and se. 1140
This ladi tho was crope aside,
As sche that wolde hireselven hide,
For sche ne wiste what thei were:
Thei soghte aboute and founde hir there
And broghten up hire child and hire;
And therupon this lord to spire
Began, fro whenne that sche cam,
And what sche was. Quod sche, "I am
A womman wofully bestad.
I hadde a lord, and thus he bad, 1150
That I forth with my litel Sone
Upon the wawes scholden wone,
Bot why the cause was, I not:
Bot he which alle thinges wot
Yit hath, I thonke him, of his miht
Mi child and me so kept upriht,
That we be save bothe tuo."
This lord hire axeth overmo
How sche believeth, and sche seith,
"I lieve and triste in Cristes feith, 1160
Which deide upon the Rode tree."
"What is thi name?" tho quod he.
"Mi name is Couste," sche him seide:
Bot forthermor for noght he preide
Of hire astat to knowe plein,
Sche wolde him nothing elles sein
Bot of hir name, which sche feigneth;
Alle othre thinges sche restreigneth,
That a word more sche ne tolde.
This lord thanne axeth if sche wolde 1170
With him abide in compaignie,
And seide he cam fro Barbarie
To Romeward, and hom he wente.
Tho sche supposeth what it mente,
And seith sche wolde with him wende
And duelle unto hire lyves ende,
Be so it be to his plesance.
And thus upon here aqueintance
He tolde hire pleinly as it stod,
Of Rome how that the gentil blod 1180
In Barbarie was betraied,
And therupon he hath assaied
Be werre, and taken such vengance,
That non of al thilke alliance,
Be whom the tresoun was compassed,
Is from the swerd alyve passed;
Bot of Constance hou it was,
That cowthe he knowe be no cas,
Wher sche becam, so as he seide.
Hire Ere unto his word sche leide, 1190
Bot forther made sche no chiere.
And natheles in this matiere
It happeth thilke time so:
This Lord, with whom sche scholde go,
Of Rome was the Senatour,
And of hir fader themperour
His brother doughter hath to wyve,
Which hath hir fader ek alyve,
And was Salustes cleped tho;
This wif Heleine hihte also, 1200
To whom Constance was Cousine.
Thus to the sike a medicine
Hath god ordeined of his grace,
That forthwith in the same place
This Senatour his trowthe plihte,
For evere, whil he live mihte,
To kepe in worschipe and in welthe,
Be so that god wol yive hire helthe,
This ladi, which fortune him sende.
And thus be Schipe forth sailende 1210
Hire and hir child to Rome he broghte,
And to his wif tho he besoghte
To take hire into compaignie:
And sche, which cowthe of courtesie
Al that a good wif scholde konne,
Was inly glad that sche hath wonne
The felaschip of so good on.
Til tuelve yeres were agon,
This Emperoures dowhter Custe
Forth with the dowhter of Saluste 1220
Was kept, bot noman redily
Knew what sche was, and noght forthi
Thei thoghten wel sche hadde be
In hire astat of hih degre,
And every lif hire loveth wel.
Now herke how thilke unstable whel,
Which evere torneth, wente aboute.
The king Allee, whil he was oute,
As thou tofore hast herd this cas,
Deceived thurgh his Moder was: 1230
Bot whan that he cam hom ayein,
He axeth of his Chamberlein
And of the Bisschop ek also,
Wher thei the qweene hadden do.
And thei answerde, there he bad,
And have him thilke lettre rad,
Which he hem sende for warant,
And tolde him pleinli as it stant,
And sein, it thoghte hem gret pite
To se so worthi on as sche, 1240
With such a child as ther was bore,
So sodeinly to be forlore.
He axeth hem what child that were;
And thei him seiden, that naghere,
In al the world thogh men it soghte,
Was nevere womman that forth broghte
A fairer child than it was on.
And thanne he axede hem anon,
Whi thei ne hadden write so:
Thei tolden, so thei hadden do. 1250
He seide, "Nay." Thei seiden, "Yis."
The lettre schewed rad it is,
Which thei forsoken everidel.
Tho was it understonde wel
That ther is tresoun in the thing:
The Messager tofore the king
Was broght and sodeinliche opposed;
And he, which nothing hath supposed
Bot alle wel, began to seie
That he nagher upon the weie 1260
Abod, bot only in a stede;
And cause why that he so dede
Was, as he wente to and fro,
At Knaresburgh be nyhtes tuo
The kinges Moder made him duelle.
And whan the king it herde telle,
Withinne his herte he wiste als faste
The treson which his Moder caste;
And thoghte he wolde noght abide,
Bot forth riht in the same tide 1270
He tok his hors and rod anon.
With him ther riden manion,
To Knaresburgh and forth thei wente,
And lich the fyr which tunder hente,
In such a rage, as seith the bok,
His Moder sodeinliche he tok
And seide unto hir in this wise:
"O beste of helle, in what juise
Hast thou deserved forto deie,
That hast so falsly put aweie 1280
With tresoun of thi bacbitinge
The treweste at my knowlechinge
Of wyves and the most honeste?
Bot I wol make this beheste,
I schal be venged er I go."
And let a fyr do make tho,
And bad men forto caste hire inne:
Bot ferst sche tolde out al the sinne,
And dede hem alle forto wite
How sche the lettres hadde write, 1290
Fro point to point as it was wroght.
And tho sche was to dethe broght
And brent tofore hire Sones yhe:
Wherof these othre, whiche it sihe
And herden how the cause stod,
Sein that the juggement is good,
Of that hir Sone hire hath so served;
For sche it hadde wel deserved
Thurgh tresoun of hire false tunge,
Which thurgh the lond was after sunge, 1300
Constance and every wiht compleigneth.
Bot he, whom alle wo distreigneth,
This sorghfull king, was so bestad,
That he schal nevermor be glad,
He seith, eftsone forto wedde,
Til that he wiste how that sche spedde,
Which hadde ben his ferste wif:
And thus his yonge unlusti lif
He dryveth forth so as he mai.
Til it befell upon a dai, 1310
Whan he hise werres hadde achieved,
And thoghte he wolde be relieved
Of Soule hele upon the feith
Which he hath take, thanne he seith
That he to Rome in pelrinage
Wol go, wher Pope was Pelage,
To take his absolucioun.
And upon this condicioun
He made Edwyn his lieutenant,
Which heir to him was apparant, 1320
That he the lond in his absence
Schal reule: and thus be providence
Of alle thinges wel begon
He tok his leve and forth is gon.
Elda, which tho was with him there,
Er thei fulliche at Rome were,
Was sent tofore to pourveie;
And he his guide upon the weie,
In help to ben his herbergour,
Hath axed who was Senatour, 1330
That he his name myhte kenne.
Of Capadoce, he seide, Arcenne
He hihte, and was a worthi kniht.
To him goth Elda tho forth riht
And tolde him of his lord tidinge,
And preide that for his comynge
He wolde assigne him herbergage;
And he so dede of good corage.
Whan al is do that was to done,
The king himself cam after sone. 1340
This Senatour, whan that he com,
To Couste and to his wif at hom
Hath told how such a king Allee
Of gret array to the Citee
Was come, and Couste upon his tale
With herte clos and colour pale
Aswoune fell, and he merveileth
So sodeinly what thing hire eyleth,
And cawhte hire up, and whan sche wok,
Sche syketh with a pitous lok 1350
And feigneth seknesse of the See;
Bot it was for the king Allee,
For joie which fell in hire thoght
That god him hath to toune broght.
This king hath spoke with the Pope
And told al that he cowthe agrope,
What grieveth in his conscience;
And thanne he thoghte in reverence
Of his astat, er that he wente,
To make a feste, and thus he sente 1360
Unto the Senatour to come
Upon the morwe and othre some,
To sitte with him at the mete.
This tale hath Couste noght foryete,
Bot to Moris hire Sone tolde
That he upon the morwe scholde
In al that evere he cowthe and mihte
Be present in the kinges sihte,
So that the king him ofte sihe.
Moris tofore the kinges yhe 1370

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