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The Example of Vertu : Cantos I.-VII.

Here begynneth the boke called the example of vertu.

The prologe.

Whan I aduert in my remembraunce
The famous draughtes of poetes eloquent
Whiche theyr myndes dyd well enhaunce
Bokes to contryue that were expedyent
To be remembred without Impedyment
For the profyte of humanyte
This was the custume of antyquyte.
I now symple and moost rude
And naked in depured eloquence
For dulnes rethoryke doth exclude
Wherfore in makynge I lake intellygence
Also consyderynge my grete neglygence
It fereth me sore for to endyte
But at auenture I wyll now wryte.
As very blynde in the poetys art
For I therof can no thynge skyll
Wherfore I lay it all a part
But somwhat accordynge to my wyll
I wyll now wryte for to fulfyll
Saynt Powles wordes and true sentement
All that is wryten is to oure document
O prudent Gower in langage pure
Without corrupcyon moost facundyous
O noble Chauser euer moost sure
Of frutfull sentence ryght delycyous
O vertuous Lydgat moche sentencyous
Unto you all I do me excuse
Though I your connynge do now vse
Explicit prologus.

Capitulum Primsi.
In Septembre in fallynge of the lefe
Whan phebus made his declynacyon
And all the whete gadred was in the shefe
By radyaunt hete and operacyon
Whan the vyrgyn had full domynacyon
And Dyane entred was one degre
Into the sygne of Gemyne
Whan the golden sterres clere were splendent
In the firmament puryfyed clere as crystall
By imperyall course without incombrement
As Iuppyter and Mars that be celestyall
With Saturne and Mercury that wer supernall
Myxt with venus that was not retrograte
That caused me to be well fortunate
In a slombrynge slepe with slouth opprest

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The Fyftene Loyes Of Maryage

Somer passed/and wynter well begone
The dayes shorte/the darke nyghtes longe
Haue taken season/and brynghtnes of the sonne
Is lytell sene/and small byrdes songe
Seldon is herde/in feldes or wodes ronge
All strength and ventue/of trees and herbes sote
Dyscendynge be/from croppe in to the rote


And euery creature by course of kynde
For socoure draweth to that countre and place
Where for a tyme/they may purchace and fynde
Conforte and rest/abydynge after grace
That clere Appolo with bryghtnes of his face
Wyll sende/whan lusty ver shall come to towne
And gyue the grounde/of grene a goodly gowne


And Flora goddesse bothe of whyte and grene
Her mantell large/ouer all the erthe shall sprede
Shewynge her selfe/apparayled lyke a quene
As well in feldes/wodes/as in mede
Hauynge so ryche a croune vpon her hede
The whiche of floures/shall be so fayre and bryght
That all the worlde/shall take therof a lyght


So now it is/of late I was desyred
Out of the trenche to drawe a lytell boke
Of .xv. Ioyes/of whiche though I were hyred
I can not tell/and yet I vndertoke
This entrepryse/with a full pyteous loke
Remembrynge well/the case that stode in
Lyuynge in hope/this wynter to begyn


Some Ioyes to fynde that be in maryage
For in my youth/yet neuer acquayntaunce
Had of them but now in myn olde aege
I trust my selfe/to forther and auaunce
If that in me/there lacke no suffysaunce
Whiche may dyspleasyr/clerely set a parte
I wante but all/that longeth to that arte


yet wyll I speke/though I may do no more
Fully purposynge/in all these Ioyes to trete
Accordynge to my purpose made to fore
All be it so/I can not well forgete
The payne/trauayle/besynes and hete

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The Example of Vertu : Cantos VIII.-XIV.

Capitalum VIII.

Dame Sapyence taryed a lytell whyle
Behynd the other saynge to Dyscrecyon
And began on her to laugh and smyle
Axynge her how I stode in condycyon
Well she sayd in good perfeccyon
But best it is that he maryed be
For to eschewe all yll censualyte
I knowe a lady of meruelous beaute
Spronge out of hyghe and noble lynage
Replete with vertue and full of bounte
Whiche vnto youth were a good maryage
For she is comen of royall apparage
But herde it wyll be to gete her loue
Without youth frayltye do sore reproue
I kneled downe than vpon my kne
Afore dame Sapyence with humble chere
Besechynge her of me to haue pyte
And also Dyscrecyon her syster dere
Than dame Sapyence came me nere
Saynge youth wyll ye haue a wyfe
And her to loue durynge her lyfe
Ye madame that wolde I fayne
Yf that she be both fayre and bryght
I wyll her loue euer more certayne
And pleas her alway with all my myght
Of suche a persone wolde I haue a syght
With all my herte now at this houre
Wolde to god I had so fayre a floure
Than sayd dyscrecyon there is a kynge
Dwellynge fer hens in a fayre castell
Of whome I oft haue herd grete talkynge
Whiche hath a doughter as I you tell
I trowe that youth wyll lyke her well
She is both good eke fayre and pure
As I report me vnto dame Nature
But yf that youth sholde her go seke
Ye must syster than hym well indue
With your grete power so good and meke
That he all frayltye may eschue
For by the way it wyll oft pursue
On hym by flatery and grete temptacyon
That shall brynge hym in tribulacyon
As for that sayd she he shall not care
For he shall theym sone ouercome
And of theyr flatery ryght well beware
For I to hym shall gyue grete wysedome
Theyr dedes to withstande & make theym dōme
Wherfore dere syster as I you pray

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The Pastime of Pleasure : The First Part.

Here begynneth the passe tyme of pleasure.

Ryyght myghty prynce / & redoubted souerayne
Saylynge forthe well / in the shyppe of grace
Ouer the wawes / of this lyfe vncertayne
Ryght towarde heuen / to haue dwellynge place
Grace dothe you guyde / in euery doubtfull cace
Your gouernaunce / dothe euermore eschewe
The synne of slouthe / enemy to vertewe
Grace stereth well / the grace of god is grete
Whiche you hathe brought / to your ryall se
And in your ryght / it hath you surely sette
Aboue vs all / to haue the soueraynte
Whose worthy power / and regall dygnyte
All our rancour / and our debate and ceace
Hath to vs brought / bothe welthe reste and peace
Frome whome dyscendeth / by the ryghtfull lyne
Noble pryuce Henry / to succede the crowne
That in his youthe / dothe so clerely shyne
In euery vertu / castynge the vyce adowne
He shall of fame / attayne the hye renowne
No doubte but grace / shall hym well enclose
Whiche by trewe ryght / sprange of the reed rose
Your noble grace / and excellent hyenes
For to accepte / I beseche ryght humbly
This lytell boke / opprest with rudenes
Without rethorycke / or colour crafty
Nothynge I am / experte in poetry
As the monke of Bury / floure of eloquence
Whiche was in tyme / of grete excellence
Of your predecessour / the .v. kynge henry
Vnto whose grace / he dyde present
Ryght famous bokes / of parfyte memory
Of his faynynge with termes eloquent
Whose fatall fyccyons / are yet permanent
Grounded on reason / with clowdy fygures
He cloked the trouthe / of all his scryptures
The lyght of trouthe / I lacke connynge to cloke
To drawe a curtayne / I dare not to presume
Nor hyde my mater / with a mysty smoke
My rudenes connynge / dothe so sore cōsume
Yet as I maye / I shall blowe out a fume
To hyde my mynde / vnderneth a fable
By conuert colour / well and probable
Besechynge your grace / to pardon myne ignoraunce
Whiche this fayned fable / to eschewe ydlenesse
Hane so compyled / now without doubtaunce
For to present / to your hye worthynesse
To folowe the trace / and all the parfytenesse
Of my mayster Lydgate / with due exercyse

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The Cōforte of Louers

The prohemye.

The gentyll poetes/vnder cloudy fygures
Do touche a trouth/and clokeit subtylly
Harde is to cōstrue poetycall scryptures
They are so fayned/& made sētēcyously
For som do wryte of loue by fables pryuely
Some do endyte/vpon good moralyte
Of chyualrous actes/done in antyquyte
Whose fables and storyes ben pastymes pleasaunt
To lordes and ladyes/as is theyr lykynge
Dyuers to moralyte/ben oft attendaunt
And many delyte to rede of louynge
Youth loueth aduenture/pleasure and lykynge
Aege foloweth polycy/sadnesse and prudence
Thus they do dyffre/eche in experyence
I lytell or nought/experte in this scyence
Compyle suche bokes/to deuoyde ydlenes
Besechynge the reders/with all my delygence
Where as I offende/for to correct doubtles
Submyttynge me to theyr grete gentylnes
As none hystoryagraffe/nor poete laureate
But gladly wolde folowe/the makynge of Lydgate
Fyrst noble Gower/moralytees dyde endyte
And after hym Cauncers/grete bokes delectable
Lyke a good phylozophre/meruaylously dyde wryte
After them Lydgate/the monke commendable
Made many wonderfull bokes moche profytable
But syth the are deed/& theyr bodyes layde in chest
I pray to god to gyue theyr soules good rest

Finis prohemii.

Whan fayre was phebus/w&supere; his bemes bryght
Amyddes of gemyny/aloft the fyrmament
Without blacke cloudes/castynge his pured lyght
With sorowe opprest/and grete incombrement
Remembrynge well/my lady excellent
Saynge o fortune helpe me to preuayle
For thou knowest all my paynfull trauayle
I went than musynge/in a medowe grene
Myselfe alone/amonge the floures in dede
With god aboue/the futertens is sene
To god I sayd/thou mayst my mater spede
And me rewarde/accordynge to my mede
Thou knowest the trouthe/I am to the true
Whan that thou lyst/thou mayst them all subdue
Who dyde preserue the yonge edyppus
Whiche sholde haue be slayne by calculacyon
To deuoyde grete thynges/the story sheweth vs

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Here Begynneth A Lyttell Treatyse Cleped La Conusaunce Damours

Forth gone the virgyns euerychone
Replet with ioye/and eke felicite
To gether floures. And some vnto one
Haue more fantasy/whan they it se
Than to all that in the medowes be
Another shall incontrary wyse
Gether other after theyr deuyse.


So done clerkes/of great grauite
Chose maters/wheron they lyst to wryte
But I that am of small capacite
Toke on me this treatyse to endyte
Tauoyde ydelnesse/more than for delyte
And most parte therof/tolde was to me
As here after/ye may rede and se.


Thus endeth the prologue.

The thyrde idus/in the moneth of July
Phebus his beames/lustryng euery way
Gladdynge the hartes/of all our Hemyspery
And mouynge many/vnto sporte and playe
So dyd it me/the treuthe for to saye
To walke forth/I had great inclination
Per chaunce some where/to fynde recreation


And as I walked/ever I dyd beholde
Goodly yonge people/that them encouraged
In suche maner wyse/as though they wolde
Ryght gladly have songe or daunsed
Or els some other gorgious thynge deuysed
Whose demeanynge/made me ryght ioyous
For to beholde/theyr dedes amorous.


To wryte all thynges of plesure/that I se
In euery place/where I passed by
In all a day recunted it can nat be
Who coude discryue the fresshe beauty
Of dames and pusels/attyred gorgiously
So swete of loke/so amiable of face
Smilyng doulcely/on suche as stande in grace


Certaynly theyr boute/and curtesy
Ofte moueth me/for to do my payne
Some thynge to wryte/them to magnifye

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Colyn Cloute

Quis consurget mecum adversus malignantes ?
aut quis stabit mecum adversus operantes iniqui-
tatem ? Nemo, Domine !

W H A T can it auayle
To dryue forth a snayle,
Or to make a sayle
Of an herynges tayle ;
To ryme or to rayle,
To wryte or to indyte,
Eyther for delyte
Or elles for despyte ;
Or bokes to compyle
Of dyuers maner style, 10
Vyce to reuyle
And synne to exyle ;
To teche or to preche,
As reason wyll reche ?
Say this, and say that,
His hed is so fat,
He wotteth neuer what
Nor wherof he speketh ;
He cryeth and he creketh,
He pryeth and he peketh, 20
He chydes and he chatters,
He prates and he patters,
He clytters and he clatters,
He medles and he smatters,
He gloses and he flatters ;
Or yf he speake playne,
Than he lacketh brayne,
He is but a fole ;
Let hym go to scole,
On a thre foted stole 30
That he may downe syt,
For he lacketh wyt ;
And yf that he hyt
The nayle on the hede,
It standeth in no stede ;
The deuyll, they say, is dede,
The deuell is dede.
It may well so be,
Or els they wolde se
Otherwyse, and fle 40
From worldly vanyte,
And foule couetousnesse,
And other wretchednesse,
Fyckell falsenesse,
Varyablenesse,
With vnstablenesse.

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Battle Of Hastings - II

OH Truth! immortal daughter of the skies,
Too lyttle known to wryters of these daies,
Teach me, fayre Saincte! hy passynge worthe to pryze,
To blame a friend and give a foeman prayse.
The fickle moone, bedeckt wythe sylver rays,
Leadynge a traine of starres of feeble lyghte,
With look adigne the worlde belowe surveies,
The world, that wotted not it coud be nyghte;
Wyth armour dyd, with human gore ydeyd,
The sees Kynge Harolde stande, fayre Englands curse and pryde.
With ale and vernage drunk his souldiers lay;
Here was an hynde, anie an erlie spredde;
Sad keepynge of their leaders natal daie!
This even in drinke, toomorrow with the dead!
Thro' everie troope disorder reer'd her hedde;
Dancynge and heideignes was the onlie theme;
Sad dome was theires, who lefte this easie bedde,
And wak'd in torments from so sweet a dream.
Duke Williams menne, of comeing dethe afraide,
All nyghte to the great Godde for succour askd and praied.
Thus Harolde to his wites that stoode arounde;
Goe, Gyrthe and Eilward, take bills halfe a score,
And search how farre our foeman's campe doth bound;
Yourself have rede; I nede to saie ne more.
My brother best belov'd of anie ore,
My Leofwinus, goe to everich wite,
Tell them to raunge the battel to the grore,
And waiten tyll I sende the hest for fyghte.
He saide; the loieaul broders lefte the place,
Success and cheerfulness depicted on ech face.
Slowelie brave Gyrthe and Eilwarde dyd advaunce,
And markd wyth care the armies dystant syde,
When the dyre clatterynge of the shielde and launce
Made them to be by Hugh Fitzhugh espyd.
He lyfted up his voice, and lowdlie cryd;
Like wolfs in wintere did the Normanne yell
Girthe drew hys swerde, and cutte hys burled hyde;
The proto-slene manne of the fielde he felle;
Out streemd the bloude, and ran in smokynge curles,
Reflected bie the moone seemd rubies mixt wyth pearles.
A troope of Normannes from the mass-songe came,
Rousd from their praiers by the flotting crie;
Thoughe Girthe and Ailwardus perceevd the same,
Not once theie stoode abashd, or thoghte to flie.
He seizd a bill, to conquer or to die;
Fierce as a clevis from a rocke ytorne,
That makes a vallie wheresoe're it lie;
Fierce as a ryver burstynge from the borne;
So fiercelie Gyrthe hitte Fitz du Gore a blowe,
And on the verdaunt playne he layde the champyone lowe.

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Confessio Amantis. 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.
Forthi, my Sone, if it be so
Thou art or hast ben on of tho,
As forto speke in loves cas,
If evere yit thin herte was
Sek of an other mannes hele?
So god avance my querele,
Mi fader, ye, a thousend sithe:
Whanne I have sen an other blithe
Of love, and hadde a goodly chiere,
Ethna, which brenneth yer be yere,
Was thanne noght so hot as I
Of thilke Sor which prively
Min hertes thoght withinne brenneth.
The Schip which on the wawes renneth,
And is forstormed and forblowe,
Is noght more peined for a throwe
Than I am thanne, whanne I se
An other which that passeth me
In that fortune of loves yifte.
Bot, fader, this I telle in schrifte,
That is nowher bot in o place;
For who that lese or finde grace
In other stede, it mai noght grieve:
Bot this ye mai riht wel believe,
Toward mi ladi that I serve,
Thogh that I wiste forto sterve,

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Confessio Amantis. Explicit Liber Quintus

Incipit Liber Sextus

Est gula, que nostrum maculavit prima parentem
Ex vetito pomo, quo dolet omnis homo
Hec agit, ut corpus anime contraria spirat,
Quo caro fit crassa, spiritus atque macer.
Intus et exterius si que virtutis habentur,
Potibus ebrietas conviciata ruit.
Mersa sopore labis, que Bachus inebriat hospes,
Indignata Venus oscula raro premit.

---------------------------------- -------------------------------------------------

The grete Senne original,
Which every man in general
Upon his berthe hath envenymed,
In Paradis it was mystymed:
Whan Adam of thilke Appel bot,
His swete morscel was to hot,
Which dedly made the mankinde.
And in the bokes as I finde,
This vice, which so out of rule
Hath sette ous alle, is cleped Gule;
Of which the branches ben so grete,
That of hem alle I wol noght trete,
Bot only as touchende of tuo
I thenke speke and of no mo;
Wherof the ferste is Dronkeschipe,
Which berth the cuppe felaschipe.
Ful many a wonder doth this vice,
He can make of a wisman nyce,
And of a fool, that him schal seme
That he can al the lawe deme,
And yiven every juggement
Which longeth to the firmament
Bothe of the sterre and of the mone;
And thus he makth a gret clerk sone
Of him that is a lewed man.
Ther is nothing which he ne can,
Whil he hath Dronkeschipe on honde,
He knowth the See, he knowth the stronde,
He is a noble man of armes,
And yit no strengthe is in his armes:
Ther he was strong ynouh tofore,
With Dronkeschipe it is forlore,
And al is changed his astat,
And wext anon so fieble and mat,
That he mai nouther go ne come,
Bot al togedre him is benome
The pouer bothe of hond and fot,

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Confessio Amantis. Explicit Liber Septimus

Incipit Liber Octavus

Que favet ad vicium vetus hec modo regula confert,
Nec novus e contra qui docet ordo placet.
Cecus amor dudum nondum sua lumina cepit,
Quo Venus impositum devia fallit iter.

------------------------------------ -----------------------------------------------
The myhti god, which unbegunne
Stant of himself and hath begunne
Alle othre thinges at his wille,
The hevene him liste to fulfille
Of alle joie, where as he
Sit inthronized in his See,
And hath hise Angles him to serve,
Suche as him liketh to preserve,
So that thei mowe noght forsueie:
Bot Lucifer he putte aweie,
With al the route apostazied
Of hem that ben to him allied,
Whiche out of hevene into the helle
From Angles into fendes felle;
Wher that ther is no joie of lyht,
Bot more derk than eny nyht
The peine schal ben endeles;
And yit of fyres natheles
Ther is plente, bot thei ben blake,
Wherof no syhte mai be take.
Thus whan the thinges ben befalle,
That Luciferes court was falle
Wher dedly Pride hem hath conveied,
Anon forthwith it was pourveied
Thurgh him which alle thinges may;
He made Adam the sexte day
In Paradis, and to his make
Him liketh Eve also to make,
And bad hem cresce and multiplie.
For of the mannes Progenie,
Which of the womman schal be bore,
The nombre of Angles which was lore,
Whan thei out fro the blisse felle,
He thoghte to restore, and felle
In hevene thilke holy place
Which stod tho voide upon his grace.
Bot as it is wel wiste and knowe,
Adam and Eve bot a throwe,
So as it scholde of hem betyde,
In Paradis at thilke tyde
Ne duelten, and the cause why,
Write in the bok of Genesi,

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The Regiment of Princes

Musynge upon the restlees bysynesse
Which that this troubly world hath ay on honde,
That othir thyng than fruyt of bittirnesse
Ne yildith naght, as I can undirstonde,
At Chestres In, right faste by the Stronde,
As I lay in my bed upon a nyght,
Thoght me byrefte of sleep the force and might. 1

And many a day and nyght that wikkid hyne
Hadde beforn vexed my poore goost
So grevously that of angwissh and pyne
No rycher man was nowhere in no coost.
This dar I seyn, may no wight make his boost
That he with thoght was bet than I aqweynted,
For to the deeth he wel ny hath me feynted.

Bysyly in my mynde I gan revolve
The welthe unseur of every creature,
How lightly that Fortune it can dissolve
Whan that hir list that it no lenger dure;
And of the brotilnesse of hir nature
My tremblynge herte so greet gastnesse hadde
That my spirites were of my lyf sadde.

Me fil to mynde how that nat longe agoo
Fortunes strook doun thraste estat rial
Into mescheef, and I took heede also
Of many anothir lord that hadde a fal.
In mene estat eek sikirnesse at al
Ne saw I noon, but I sy atte laste
Wher seuretee for to abyde hir caste.

In poore estat shee pighte hir pavyloun
To kevere hir fro the storm of descendynge 2
For shee kneew no lower descencion
Sauf oonly deeth, fro which no wight lyvynge
Deffende him may; and thus in my musynge
I destitut was of joie and good hope,
And to myn ese nothyng cowde I grope.

For right as blyve ran it in my thoght,
Thogh poore I be, yit sumwhat leese I may.
Than deemed I that seurtee wolde noght
With me abyde; it is nat to hir pay
Ther to sojourne as shee descende may.
And thus unsikir of my smal lyflode,
Thoght leide on me ful many an hevy lode.

I thoghte eek, if I into povert creepe,
Than am I entred into sikirnesse;

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Confessio Amantis. Explicit Liber Tercius

Incipit Liber Quartus


Dicunt accidiam fore nutricem viciorum,
Torpet et in cunctis tarda que lenta bonis:
Que fieri possent hodie transfert piger in cras,
Furatoque prius ostia claudit equo.
Poscenti tardo negat emolumenta Cupido,
Set Venus in celeri ludit amore viri.

Upon the vices to procede
After the cause of mannes dede,
The ferste point of Slowthe I calle
Lachesce, and is the chief of alle,
And hath this propreliche of kinde,
To leven alle thing behinde.
Of that he mihte do now hier
He tarieth al the longe yer,
And everemore he seith, 'Tomorwe';
And so he wol his time borwe,
And wissheth after 'God me sende,'
That whan he weneth have an ende,
Thanne is he ferthest to beginne.
Thus bringth he many a meschief inne
Unwar, til that he be meschieved,
And may noght thanne be relieved.
And riht so nowther mor ne lesse
It stant of love and of lachesce:
Som time he slowtheth in a day
That he nevere after gete mai.
Now, Sone, as of this ilke thing,
If thou have eny knowleching,
That thou to love hast don er this,
Tell on. Mi goode fader, yis.
As of lachesce I am beknowe
That I mai stonde upon his rowe,
As I that am clad of his suite:
For whanne I thoghte mi poursuite
To make, and therto sette a day
To speke unto the swete May,
Lachesce bad abide yit,
And bar on hond it was no wit
Ne time forto speke as tho.
Thus with his tales to and fro
Mi time in tariinge he drowh:
Whan ther was time good ynowh,
He seide, 'An other time is bettre;
Thou schalt mowe senden hire a lettre,
And per cas wryte more plein
Than thou be Mowthe durstest sein.'

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Geoffrey Chaucer

The Canterbury Tales; the Wyves tale of Bathe

The Prologe of the Wyves tale of Bathe.

Experience, though noon auctoritee
Were in this world, were right ynogh to me
To speke of wo that is in mariage;
For, lordynges, sith I twelf yeer was of age,
Thonked be God, that is eterne on lyve,

Housbondes at chirche-dore I have had fyve-
For I so ofte have ywedded bee-
And alle were worthy men in hir degree.
But me was toold, certeyn, nat longe agoon is,
That sith that Crist ne wente nevere but onis

To weddyng in the Cane of Galilee,
That by the same ensample, taughte he me,
That I ne sholde wedded be but ones.
Herkne eek, lo, which a sharpe word for the nones,
Biside a welle Jesus, God and Man,

Spak in repreeve of the Samaritan.
'Thou hast yhad fyve housbondes,' quod he,
'And thilke man the which that hath now thee
Is noght thyn housbonde;' thus seyde he, certeyn.
What that he mente ther by, I kan nat seyn;

But that I axe, why that the fifthe man
Was noon housbonde to the Samaritan?
How manye myghte she have in mariage?
Yet herde I nevere tellen in myn age
Upon this nombre diffinicioun.

Men may devyne, and glosen up and doun,
But wel I woot expres withoute lye,
God bad us for to wexe and multiplye;
That gentil text kan I wel understonde.
Eek wel I woot, he seyde, myn housbonde

Sholde lete fader and mooder, and take me;
But of no nombre mencioun made he,
Of bigamye, or of octogamye;
Why sholde men speke of it vileynye?
Lo, heere the wise kyng, daun Salomon;

I trowe he hadde wyves mo than oon-
As, wolde God, it leveful were to me
To be refresshed half so ofte as he-
Which yifte of God hadde he, for alle hise wyvys?
No man hath swich that in this world alyve is.

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The Libelle of Englyshe Polycye

Here beginneth the Prologe of the processe of the Libelle of Englyshe polycye, exhortynge alle Englande to kepe the see enviroun and namelye the narowe see, shewynge whate profete commeth thereof and also whate worshype and salvacione to Englande and to alle Englyshe menne.

The trewe processe of Englysh polycye
Of utterwarde to kepe thys regne in rest
Of oure England, that no man may denye
Ner say of soth but it is one the best,
Is thys, as who seith, south, north, est and west
Cheryshe marchandyse, kepe thamyralte,
That we bee maysteres of the narowe see.


For Sigesmonde the grete Emperoure,
Whyche yet regneth, whan he was in this londe
Wyth kynge Herry the vte, prince of honoure,
Here moche glorye, as hym thought, he founde,
A myghty londe, whyche hadde take on honde
To werre in Fraunce and make mortalite,
And ever well kept rounde aboute the see.


And to the kynge thus he seyde, 'My brothere',
Whan he perceyved too townes, Calys and Dovere,
'Of alle youre townes to chese of one and other
To kepe the see and sone for to come overe,
To werre oughtwardes and youre regne to recovere,
Kepe these too townes sure to youre mageste
As youre tweyne eyne to kepe the narowe see'.


For if this see be kepte in tyme of werre,
Who cane here passe withought daunger and woo?
Who may eschape, who may myschef dyfferre?
What marchaundy may forby be agoo?
For nedes hem muste take truse every foo,
Flaundres and Spayne and othere, trust to me,
Or ellis hyndered alle for thys narowe see.


Therfore I caste me by a lytell wrytinge
To shewe att eye thys conclusione,
For concyens and for myne acquytynge
Ayenst God, and ageyne abusyon
And cowardyse and to oure enmyes confusione;
For iiij. thynges oure noble sheueth to me,
Kyng, shype and swerde and pouer of the see.


Where bene oure shippes, where bene oure swerdes become?
Owre enmyes bid for the shippe sette a shepe.
Allas, oure reule halteth, hit is benome.

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The Cōuercyon of Swerers

The fruytfull sentence & the noble werkes
To our doctryne wryten in olde antyquyte
By many grete and ryght notable clerkes
Grounded on reason & hyghe auctoryte
Dyde gyue vs example by good moralyte
To folowe the trace of trouthe and ryghtwysnes
Leuynge our synne and mortall wretchednes
By theyr wrytynge dothe vnto vs appere
The famous actes of many a champyon
In the courte of fame renowned fayre and clere
And some endyted theyr entencyon
Cloked in coloure harde in construccyon
Specyally poetes vnder cloudy fygures
Coueryd the trouthe of all theyr scryptures
So hystoryagraphes all the worthy dedes
Of kynges and knyghtes dyde put in wrytynge
To be in mynde for theyr memoryall medes
How sholde we nowe haue ony knowledgynge
Of thynges past/but by theyr endytynge
Wherfore we ought to preyse them doubteles
That spente theyr tyme in suche good besynes
Amonge all other my good mayster Lydgate
The eloquent poete and monke of bery
Dyde bothe contryue/and also translate
Many vertuous bookes to be in memorye
Touchynge the trouthe well and sentencyously
But syth that his dethe was intollerable
I praye god rewarde hym in lyfe perdurable
Amonge all thynges nothynge so prouffytable
As is scyence with the sentencyous scrypture
For worldly rychesse is often transmutable
As dayly dothe appere well in vre
Yet scyens a bydeth and is moost sure
After pouerte to attayne grete rychesse
Scyens is cause of promocyon doubtles
I lytell or nought expert in poetrye
Remembrynge my youth so lyght and frayle
Purpose to compyle here full breuyatly
A lytell treatyse wofull to bewayle
The cruell swerers whiche do god assayle
On euery syde his swete body to tere
With terryble othes as often as they swere
But also for drede plonged in neclygence
My penne doth quake to presume to endyte
But hope at laste to recure this scyence
Exorteth me ryght hardely to wryte
To deuoyde ydlenesse by good appetyte
For ydlenesse the grete moder of synne
Euery vyce is redy to lette ynne
I with the same ryght gretely infecte

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Confessio Amantis. Explicit Liber Secundus

Incipit Liber Tercius

Ira suis paribus est par furiis Acherontis,
Quo furor ad tempus nil pietatis habet.
Ira malencolicos animos perturbat, vt equo
Iure sui pondus nulla statera tenet.
Omnibus in causis grauat Ira, set inter amantes,
Illa magis facili sorte grauamen agit:
Est vbi vir discors leuiterque repugnat amori,
Sepe loco ludi fletus ad ora venit.

----------------------------------- ------------------------------------------------

If thou the vices lest to knowe,
Mi Sone, it hath noght ben unknowe,
Fro ferst that men the swerdes grounde,
That ther nis on upon this grounde,
A vice forein fro the lawe,
Wherof that many a good felawe
Hath be distraght be sodein chance;
And yit to kinde no plesance
It doth, bot wher he most achieveth
His pourpos, most to kinde he grieveth,
As he which out of conscience
Is enemy to pacience:
And is be name on of the Sevene,
Which ofte hath set this world unevene,
And cleped is the cruel Ire,
Whos herte is everemore on fyre
To speke amis and to do bothe,
For his servantz ben evere wrothe.
Mi goode fader, tell me this:
What thing is Ire? Sone, it is
That in oure englissh Wrathe is hote,
Which hath hise wordes ay so hote,
That all a mannes pacience
Is fyred of the violence.
For he with him hath evere fyve
Servantz that helpen him to stryve:
The ferst of hem Malencolie
Is cleped, which in compaignie
An hundred times in an houre
Wol as an angri beste loure,
And noman wot the cause why.
Mi Sone, schrif thee now forthi:
Hast thou be Malencolien?
Ye, fader, be seint Julien,
Bot I untrewe wordes use,
I mai me noght therof excuse:
And al makth love, wel I wot,

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Confessio Amantis. 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
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
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,
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,
If noman write hou that it stode,
The pris of hem that weren goode

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Confessio Amantis. 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,
Which every kinde hath upon honde,
And wherupon the world mot stonde,
And hath don sithen it began,
And schal whil ther is any man;
And that is love, of which I mene
To trete, as after schal be sene.
In which ther can noman him reule,
For loves lawe is out of reule,
That of tomoche or of tolite
Welnyh is every man to wyte,
And natheles ther is noman
In al this world so wys, that can
Of love tempre the mesure,
Bot as it falth in aventure:
For wit ne strengthe may noght helpe,
And he which elles wolde him yelpe
Is rathest throwen under fote,
Ther can no wiht therof do bote.
For yet was nevere such covine,
That couthe ordeine a medicine
To thing which god in lawe of kinde
Hath set, for ther may noman finde
The rihte salve of such a Sor.
It hath and schal ben everemor
That love is maister wher he wile,
Ther can no lif make other skile;
For wher as evere him lest to sette,
Ther is no myht which him may lette.
Bot what schal fallen ate laste,

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The Tale of Gamelyn

Fitt 1

Lithes and listneth and harkeneth aright,
And ye shul here of a doughty knyght;
Sire John of Boundes was his name,
He coude of norture and of mochel game.
Thre sones the knyght had and with his body he wan,
The eldest was a moche schrewe and sone bygan.
His brether loved wel her fader and of hym were agast,
The eldest deserved his faders curs and had it atte last.
The good knight his fadere lyved so yore,
That deth was comen hym to and handled hym ful sore.
The good knyght cared sore sik ther he lay,
How his children shuld lyven after his day.
He had bene wide where but non husbonde he was,
Al the londe that he had it was purchas.
Fayn he wold it were dressed amonge hem alle,
That eche of hem had his parte as it myght falle.
Thoo sente he in to contrey after wise knyghtes
To helpen delen his londes and dressen hem to-rightes.
He sent hem word by letters thei shul hie blyve,
If thei wolle speke with hym whilst he was alyve.

Whan the knyghtes harden sik that he lay,
Had thei no rest neither nyght ne day,
Til thei come to hym ther he lay stille
On his dethes bedde to abide goddys wille.
Than seide the good knyght seke ther he lay,
'Lordes, I you warne for soth, without nay,
I may no lenger lyven here in this stounde;
For thorgh goddis wille deth droueth me to grounde.'
Ther nas noon of hem alle that herd hym aright,
That thei ne had routh of that ilk knyght,
And seide, 'Sir, for goddes love dismay you nought;
God may don boote of bale that is now ywrought.'
Than speke the good knyght sik ther he lay,
'Boote of bale God may sende I wote it is no nay;
But I beseche you knyghtes for the love of me,
Goth and dresseth my londes amonge my sones thre.
And for the love of God deleth not amyss,
And forgeteth not Gamelyne my yonge sone that is.
Taketh hede to that oon as wel as to that other;
Seelde ye seen eny hier helpen his brother.'

Thoo lete thei the knyght lyen that was not in hele,
And wenten into counselle his londes for to dele;
For to delen hem alle to on that was her thought.
And for Gamelyn was yongest he shuld have nought.
All the londe that ther was thei dalten it in two,
And lete Gamelyne the yonge without londe goo,

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Geoffrey Chaucer

Book Of The Duchesse

THE PROEM

I have gret wonder, be this lighte,
How that I live, for day ne nighte
I may nat slepe wel nigh noght,
I have so many an ydel thoght
Purely for defaute of slepe
That, by my trouthe, I take no kepe
Of no-thing, how hit cometh or goth,
Ne me nis no-thing leef nor loth.
Al is y-liche good to me --
Ioye or sorowe, wherso hyt be --
For I have feling in no-thinge,
But, as it were, a mased thing,
Alway in point to falle a-doun;
For sorwful imaginacioun
Is alway hoolly in my minde.
And wel ye wite, agaynes kynde
Hit were to liven in this wyse;
For nature wolde nat suffyse
To noon erthely creature
Not longe tyme to endure
Withoute slepe, and been in sorwe;
And I ne may, ne night ne morwe,
Slepe; and thus melancolye
And dreed I have for to dye,
Defaute of slepe and hevinesse
Hath sleyn my spirit of quiknesse,
That I have lost al lustihede.
Suche fantasies ben in myn hede
So I not what is best to do.
But men myght axe me, why soo
I may not slepe, and what me is?
But natheles, who aske this
Leseth his asking trewely.
My-selven can not telle why
The sooth; but trewely, as I gesse,
I holde hit be a siknesse
That I have suffred this eight yere,
And yet my bote is never the nere;
For ther is phisicien but oon,
That may me hele; but that is doon.
Passe we over until eft;
That wil not be, moot nede be left;
Our first matere is good to kepe.
So whan I saw I might not slepe,
Til now late, this other night,
Upon my bedde I sat upright
And bad oon reche me a book,
A romaunce, and he hit me took

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