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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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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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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; Prologue

Whan that Aprille, with hise shoures soote,
The droghte of March hath perced to the roote
And bathed every veyne in swich licour,
Of which vertu engendred is the flour;
Whan Zephirus eek with his swete breeth

Inspired hath in every holt and heeth
The tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne
Hath in the Ram his halfe cours yronne,
And smale foweles maken melodye,
That slepen al the nyght with open eye-

So priketh hem Nature in hir corages-
Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages
And palmeres for to seken straunge strondes
To ferne halwes, kowthe in sondry londes;
And specially, from every shires ende

Of Engelond, to Caunturbury they wende,
The hooly blisful martir for the seke
That hem hath holpen, whan that they were seeke.
Bifil that in that seson, on a day,
In Southwerk at the Tabard as I lay,

Redy to wenden on my pilgrymage
To Caunterbury, with ful devout corage,
At nyght were come into that hostelrye
Wel nyne and twenty in a compaignye
Of sondry folk, by aventure yfalle

In felaweshipe, and pilgrimes were they alle,
That toward Caunterbury wolden ryde.
The chambres and the stables weren wyde,
And wel we weren esed atte beste;
And shortly, whan the sonne was to reste,

So hadde I spoken with hem everychon
That I was of hir felaweshipe anon,
And made forward erly for to ryse
To take our wey, ther as I yow devyse.
But nathelees, whil I have tyme and space,

Er that I ferther in this tale pace,
Me thynketh it acordaunt to resoun
To telle yow al the condicioun
Of ech of hem, so as it semed me,
And whiche they weren, and of what degree,

And eek in what array that they were inne;
And at a knyght than wol I first bigynne.

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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 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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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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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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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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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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Knyghthode and Bataile

A XVth Century Verse Paraphrase of Flavius Vegetius Renatus' Treatise 'DE RE MILITARI'


Proemium.
Salue, festa dies
i martis,
Mauortis! auete
Kalende. Qua Deus
ad celum subleuat
ire Dauid.


Hail, halyday deuout! Alhail Kalende
Of Marche, wheryn Dauid the Confessour
Commaunded is his kyngis court ascende;
Emanuel, Jhesus the Conquerour,
This same day as a Tryumphatour,
Sette in a Chaire & Throne of Maiestee,
To London is comyn. O Saviour,
Welcome a thousand fold to thi Citee!


And she, thi modir Blessed mot she be
That cometh eke, and angelys an ende,
Wel wynged and wel horsed, hidir fle,
Thousendys on this goode approche attende;
And ordir aftir ordir thei commende,
As Seraphin, as Cherubyn, as Throne,
As Domynaunce, and Princys hidir sende;
And, at o woord, right welcom euerychone!


But Kyng Herry the Sexte, as Goddes Sone
Or themperour or kyng Emanuel,
To London, welcomer be noo persone;
O souuerayn Lord, welcom! Now wel, Now wel!
Te Deum to be songen, wil do wel,
And Benedicta Sancta Trinitas!
Now prosperaunce and peax perpetuel
Shal growe,-and why? ffor here is Vnitas.


Therof to the Vnitee 'Deo gracias'
In Trinitee! The Clergys and Knyghthode
And Comynaltee better accorded nas
Neuer then now; Now nys ther noon abode,
But out on hem that fordoon Goddes forbode,
Periurous ar, Rebellovs and atteynte,
So forfaytinge her lyif and lyvelode,
Although Ypocrisie her faytys peynte.

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Geoffrey Chaucer

The Canterbury Tales; the Seconde Nonnes Tale

The Prologe of the Seconde Nonnes Tale.

The ministre and the norice unto vices,
Which that men clepe in Englissh ydelnesse,
That porter of the gate is of delices,
To eschue, and by hir contrarie hir oppresse,
(That is to seyn by leveful bisynesse),
Wel oghten we to doon al oure entente,
Lest that the feend thurgh ydelnesse us shente.

For he, that with hise thousand cordes slye
Continuelly us waiteth to biclappe,
Whan he may man in ydelnesse espye,
He kan so lightly cacche hym in his trappe,
Til that a man be hent right by the lappe,
He nys nat war the feend hath hym in honde.
Wel oghte us werche, and ydelnesse withstonde.

And though men dradden nevere for to dye,
Yet seen men wel by resoun, doutelees,
That ydelnesse is roten slogardye,
Of which ther nevere comth no good encrees;
And seen that slouthe hir holdeth in a lees,
Oonly to slepe, and for to ete and drynke,
And to devouren al that othere swynke.

And for to putte us fro swich ydelnesse,
That cause is of so greet confusioun,
I have heer doon my feithful bisynesse,
After the legende, in translacioun
Right of thy glorious lyf and passioun,
Thou with thy gerland wroght with rose and lilie,
Thee meene I, mayde and martir, seint Cecilie.

Invocacio ad Mariam.

And thow that flour of virgines art alle,
Of whom that Bernard list so wel to write,
To thee at my bigynnyng first I calle,
Thou confort of us wrecches, do me endite
Thy maydens deeth, that wan thurgh hir merite

The eterneel lyf, and of the feend victorie,
As man may after reden in hir storie.

Thow mayde and mooder, doghter of thy sone,
Thow welle of mercy, synful soules cure,
In whom that God for bountee chees to wone,
Thow humble and heigh, over every creature
Thow nobledest so ferforth oure nature,

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Athelston

Lord that is off myghtys most,
Fadyr and Sone and Holy Gost,
Bryng us out of synne
And lene us grace so for to wyrke
To love bothe God and Holy Kyrke
That we may hevene wynne.
Lystnes, lordyngys, that ben hende,
Of falsnesse, hou it wil ende
A man that ledes hym therin.
Of foure weddyd bretheryn I wole yow tell
That wolden yn Yngelond go dwel,
That sybbe were nought of kyn.

And all foure messangeres they were,
That wolden yn Yngelond lettrys bere,
As it wes here kynde.
By a forest gan they mete
With a cros, stood in a strete
Be leff undyr a lynde,
And, as the story telles me,
Ylke man was of dyvers cuntrie
In book iwreten we fynde
For love of here metyng thare,
They swoor hem weddyd bretheryn for evermare,
In trewthe trewely dede hem bynde.

The eldeste of hem ylkon,
He was hyght Athelston,
The kyngys cosyn dere;
He was of the kyngys blood,
Hys eemes sone, I undyrstood;
Therefore he neyghyd hym nere.
And at the laste, weel and fayr,
The kyng him dyyd withouten ayr.
Thenne was ther non hys pere
But Athelston, hys eemes sone;
To make hym kyng wolde they nought schone,
To corowne hym with gold so clere.

Now was he kyng semely to se:
He sendes afftyr his bretheryn thre
And gaff hem here warysoun.
The eldest brothir he made Eerl of Dovere —
And thus the pore man gan covere —
Lord of tour and toun.
That other brother he made Eerl of Stane —
Egelond was hys name,
A man of gret renoun
And gaff him tyl hys weddyd wyff
Hys owne sustyr, Dame Edyff,

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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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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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Geoffrey Chaucer

The Canterbury Tales; The Clerkes Tale (a)

THE CLERKES TALE - PROLOGUE

Heere folweth the Prologe of the clerkes tale of Oxenford.

'Sire clerk of Oxenford,' oure Hooste sayde,
'Ye ryde as coy and stille as dooth a mayde,
Were newe spoused, sittynge at the bord.
This day ne herde I of youre tonge a word.
I trowe ye studie about som sophyme;

But Salomon seith, `every thyng hath tyme.'
For Goddes sake, as beth of bettre cheere;
It is no tyme for to studien heere,
Telle us som myrie tale, by youre fey.
For what man that is entred in a pley,

He nedes moot unto the pley assente;
But precheth nat as freres doon in Lente,
To make us for oure olde synnes wepe,
Ne that thy tale make us nat to slepe.
Telle us som murie thyng of aventures;

Youre termes, youre colours, and youre figures,
Keep hem in stoor, til so be that ye endite
Heigh style, as whan that men to kynges write.
Speketh so pleyn at this tyme, we yow preye,
That we may understonde what ye seye.'

This worthy clerk benignely answerde,
'Hooste,' quod he, 'I am under youre yerde.
Ye han of us as now the governance;
And therfore wol I do yow obeisance
As fer as resoun axeth, hardily.

I wol yow telle a tale, which that I
Lerned at Padwe of a worthy clerk,
As preved by his wordes and his werk.
He is now deed, and nayled in his cheste;
I prey to God so yeve his soule reste.

Fraunceys Petrark, the lauriat poete,
Highte this clerk, whos rethorike sweete
Enlumyned al Ytaille of poetrie,
As Lynyan dide of philosophie,
Or lawe, or oother art particuler.

But deeth, that wol nat suffre us dwellen heer
But as it were a twynklyng of an eye,
Hem bothe hath slayn, and alle shul we dye.
But forth to tellen of this worthy man,

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The Wright's Chaste Wife

Allemyghty god, maker of alle,
Saue you my souereyns in towre & halle,
And send you good grace!
If ye wylle a stounde blynne,
Of a story I wylle begynne,
And telle you alle the cas,
Meny farleyes ?aue herde,
Ye would haue wondyr how yt ferde;
Lystyn, and ye schalle here;
Of a wryght I wylle you telle
That some tyme in thys land gan dwelle,
And lyued by hys myster.
Whether that he were yn or oute,
Of erthely man hadde he no dowte,
To werke hows, harowe, nor plowgh,
Or other werkes, what so they were,
Thous wrought he hem farre and nere,
And dyd tham wele I-nough.
Thys wryght would wedde no wyfe,
Butt yn yougeth to lede hys lyfe
In myrthe and o?ody;
Ouer alle where he gan wende,
Alle they seyd 'welcome, frende,
Sytt downe, and do gla[d]ly.'
Tylle on a tyme he was wyllyng,
As tyme comyth of alle thyng,
(So seyth the profesye,)
A wyfe for to wedde & haue
That myght hys goodes kepe & saue,
And for to leue alle foly.
Ther dwellyd a wydowe in ?tre
That hadde a doughter feyre & fre;
Of her, word sprang wyde,
For sche was bothe stabylle & trewe,
Meke of maners, and feyre of hewe;
So seyd men in that tyde.
The wryght seyde, 'so god me saue,
Such a wyfe would I haue
To lye nyghtly by my syde.'
He ?to speke wyth ?,
And rose erly on a daye
And ?an he to ryde.
The wryght was welcome to ?,
And her saluyd alle so blyve,
And so he dyd her doughter fre:
For the erand that he for came
Tho he spake, ?d yemane;
Than to hym seyd sche:
The wydow seyd, 'by heuen kyng,
I may geue wyth her no ?r> (And ?thynketh me

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The Vision Of Piers Plowman - Part 13

And I awaked therwith, witlees nerhande,
And as a freke that fey were, forth gan I walke
In manere of a mendynaunt many yer after,
And of this metyng many tyme muche thought I hadde
First how Fortune me failed at my mooste nede,
And how that Elde manaced me, myghte we evere mete;
And how that freres folwede folk that was riche,
And [peple] that was povere at litel pris thei sette,
And no corps in hir kirkyerd ne in hir kirk was buryed
But quik he biquethe hem aught or sholde helpe quyte hir dettes;
And how this coveitise overcom clerkes and preestes;
And how that lewed men ben lad, but Oure Lord hem helpe,
Thorugh unkonnynge curatours to incurable peynes;
And how that Ymaginatif in dremels me tolde
Of Kynde and of his konnynge, and how curteis he is to bestes,
And how lovynge he is to bestes on londe and on watre
Leneth he no lif lasse ne moore;
The creatures that crepen of Kynde ben engendred;
And sithen how Ymaginatif seide, ' Vix iustus salvabitur,'
And whan he hadde seid so, how sodeynliche he passed.
I lay down longe in this thoght, and at the laste I slepte;

And as Crist wolde ther com Conscience to conforte me that tyme,
And bad me come to his court - with Clergie sholde I dyne.
And for Conscience of Clergie spak, I com wel the rather;
And there I [merkede] a maister - what man he was I nyste -
That lowe louted and loveliche to Scripture.
Conscience knew hym wel and welcomed hym faire;
Thei wesshen and wipeden and wenten to the dyner.
Ac Pacience in the paleis stood in pilgrymes clothes,
And preyde mete par charite for a povere heremyte.
Conscience called hym in, and curteisliche seide,
' Welcome, wye, go and wassh; thow shalt sitte soone.'
This maister was maad sitte as for the mooste worthi,
And thanne Clergie and Conscience and Pacience cam after.
Pacience and I were put to be mettes,
And seten bi oureselve at a side borde.
Conscience called after mete, and thanne cam Scripture
And served hem thus soone of sondry metes manye -
Of Austyn, of Ambrose, of alle the foure Evaungelistes
Edentes et bibentes que apud eos sunt.
Ac this maister ne his man no maner flessh eten,
Ac thei eten mete of moore cost - mortrews and potages
Of that men myswonne thei made hem wel at ese.
Ac hir sauce was over sour and unsavourly grounde
In a morter, Post mortem, of many bitter peyne -
But if thei synge for tho soules and wepe salte teris
Vos qui peccata hominum comeditis, nisi pro eis lacrimas et
oraciones effuderitis, ea que in deliciis comeditis, in tormentis evometis.
Conscience ful curteisly tho commaunded Scripture

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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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Geoffrey Chaucer

The Canterbury Tales; The Maunciples Tale

PROLOGUE TO THE MAUNCIPLES TALE

Heere folweth the Prologe of the Maunciples tale.

Woot ye nat where ther stant a litel toun,
Which that ycleped is Bobbe-up-and-doun
Under the Blee, in Caunterbury weye?
Ther gan oure Hooste for to jape and pleye,
And seyde, 'Sires, what, Dun is in the Myre!

Is ther no man for preyere ne for hyre,
That wole awake oure felawe al bihynde?
A theef myghte hym ful lightly robbe and bynde.
See how he nappeth, see how for Cokkes bones,
That he wol falle fro his hors atones.

Is that a Cook of London, with meschaunce?
Do hym com forth, he knoweth his penaunce,
For he shal telle a tale, by my fey,
Although it be nat worth a botel hey.
Awake, thou Cook,' quod he, 'God yeve thee sorwe,

What eyleth thee, to slepe by the morwe?
Hastow had fleen al nyght, or artow dronke?
Or hastow with som quene al nyght yswonke
So that thow mayst nat holden up thyn heed?'
This Cook that was ful pale, and no thyng reed,

Seyde to oure Hoost, 'So God my soule blesse,
As ther is falle on me swich hevynesse,
Noot I nat why, that me were levere slepe
Than the beste galon wyn in Chepe.'
'Wel,' quod the Maunciple, 'if it may doon ese

To thee, Sire Cook, and to no wight displese
Which that heere rideth in this compaignye,
And that oure Hoost wole of his curteisye,
I wol as now excuse thee of thy tale,
For, in good feith, thy visage is ful pale.

Thyne eyen daswen eek, as that me thynketh,
And wel I woot, thy breeth ful soure stynketh.
That sheweth wel thou art nat wel disposed,
Of me, certeyn, thou shalt nat been yglosed.
See how he ganeth, lo, this dronken wight!

As though he wolde swolwe us anonright.
Hoold cloos thy mouth, man, by thy fader kyn,
The devel of helle sette his foot therin.
Thy cursed breeth infecte wole us alle,

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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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