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[ 383 ]


Balades de visage sanz peinture.

I. Le Pleintif countre Fortune.

This wrecched worldes transmutacioun,
As wele or wo, now povre and now honour,
With-outen ordre or wys discrecioun
Governed is by Fortunes errour;
But natheles, the lak of hir favour       5
Ne may nat don me singen, though I dye,
Iay tout perdu mon temps et mon labour:'
For fynally, Fortune, I thee defye!

Yit is me left the light of my resoun,
To knowen frend fro fo in thy mirour.       10
So muche hath yit thy whirling up and doun
Y-taught me for to knowen in an hour.
But trewely, no force of thy reddour
To him that over him-self hath the maystrye!
My suffisaunce shal be my socour:       15
For fynally, Fortune, I thee defye!

O Socrates, thou stedfast champioun,
She never mighte be thy tormentour;
Thou never dreddest hir oppressioun,
Ne in hir chere founde thou no savour.       20
[ 384 ]Thou knewe wel deceit of hir colour,
And that hir moste worshipe is to lye.
I knowe hir eek a fals dissimulour:
For fynally, Fortune, I thee defye!

II. La respounse de Fortune au Pleintif.

No man is wrecched, but him-self hit wene,       25
And he that hath him-self hath suffisaunce.
Why seystow thanne I am to thee so kene,
That hast thy-self out of my governaunce?
Sey thus: 'Graunt mercy of thyn haboundaunce
That thou hast lent or this.' Why wolt thou stryve?       30
What wostow yit, how I thee wol avaunce?
And eek thou hast thy beste frend alyve!

I have thee taught divisioun bi-twene
Frend of effect, and frend of countenaunce;
Thee nedeth nat the galle of noon hyene,       35
That cureth eyen derke fro hir penaunce;
Now seestow cleer, that were in ignoraunce.
Yit halt thyn ancre, and yit thou mayst arryve
Ther bountee berth the keye of my substaunce:
And eek thou hast thy beste frend alyve.       40

How many have I refused to sustene,
Sin I thee fostred have in thy plesaunce!
Woltow than make a statut on thy quene
That I shal been ay at thyn ordinaunce?
Thou born art in my regne of variaunce,       45
Aboute the wheel with other most thou dryve.
My lore is bet than wikke is thy grevaunce,
And eek thou hast thy beste frend alyve.

[ 385 ]III. La respounse du Pleintif countre Fortune.

Thy lore I dampne, hit is adversitee.
My frend maystow nat reven, blind goddesse!       50
That I thy frendes knowe, I thanke hit thee.
Tak hem agayn, lat hem go lye on presse!
The negardye in keping hir richesse
Prenostik is thou wolt hir tour assayle;
Wikke appetyt comth ay before seknesse:       55
In general, this reule may nat fayle.

La respounse de Fortune countre le Pleintif.

Thou pinchest at my mutabilitee,
For I thee lente a drope of my richesse,
And now me lyketh to with-drawe me.
Why sholdestow my realtee oppresse?       60
The see may ebbe and flowen more or lesse;
The welkne hath might to shyne, reyne, or hayle;
Right so mot I kythen my brotelnesse.
In general, this reule may nat fayle.

Lo, thexecucion of the magestee       65
That al purveyeth of his rightwisnesse,
That same thing 'Fortune' clepen ye,
Ye blinde bestes, ful of lewednesse!
The hevene hath propretee of sikernesse,
This world hath ever resteles travayle;       70
Thy laste day is ende of myn intresse:
In general, this reule may nat fayle.

[ 386 ]'Lenvoy de Fortune.'

Princes, I prey you of your gentilesse,
Lat nat this man on me thus crye and pleyne,
And I shal quyte you your bisinesse       75
At my requeste, as three of you or tweyne;
And, but you list releve him of his peyne,
Preyeth his beste frend, of his noblesse,
That to som beter estat he may atteyne.       79


The spelling is conformed to that of the preceding poems; the alterations though numerous are slight; as y for i, au for aw, &c. The text mainly follows MS. I. (= Ii. 3. 21, Camb. Univ. Library). Other MSS. are A. (Ashmole 59); T. (Trin. Coll. Camb.); F. (Fairfax 16); B. (Bodley 638); H. (Harl. 2251).

2: F. pouerte; rest poure (poore, pore, poeere). 8, 16: I. fynaly; deffye. 11: I. mochel; the rest muche, moche. 13: I. fors; thi reddowr. 17: I. stidfast chaumpyoun. 18: I. myht; thi tormentowr. 20: I. fownde thow.

21. I. the deseyte; A. T. H. om. the. 22. I. most. 23. I. knew; rest knowe. I. ek. 24. I. fynaly; the deffye. 27. H. seystow; I. seysthow. I. (only) om. to. 30. So I.; rest Thou shall not stryue. 31. I. woost thow; B. wostow; A. T. wostowe. 36. I. derkyd; rest derke (derk). T. from hir; H. from ther; A. frome theire; F. B. fro; I. for. 37. H. seestow; A. T. seestowe; I. partly erased. 43. I. Wolthow; B. Woltow. 46. I. most thow; H. thow must; the rest maystow, maisthow, maistow.

49: I. dempne; F. B. H. dampne. 50: I. maysthow; B. maistou; H. maystow. 51: I. thanke to; F. thanke yt; B. thanke it; H. thank it nat: (Lansdowne and Pepys also have thank it). 60: I. apresse; rest oppresse. 61: I. A. or; rest and. 62: I. welkne; A. B. H. welkin; F. welkene; T. sky. 63: I. brutelnesse; T. brutilnesse; F. B. H. brotelnesse; A. brittelnesse. After l. 64, a new rubric is wrongly inserted, thus: I. Le pleintif; F. B. H. Le pleintif encontre Fortune; A. The Pleyntyff ageinst Fortune; T. Thaunswer of the Lover ayenst Fortune; see note. 65: A. F. þexecucion; B. thexecucyon; I. excussyoun. I. maieste; rest magestee (mageste). 71: I. intersse (sic); (Lansd. and Pepys intresse); T. F. B. interesse; A. H. encresse.

73. I. gentilesses; the rest gentilesse. 76. In I. only; the rest omit this line. 77. A. F. B. H. And; I. T. That. I. lest; rest list (liste). At end—B. Explicit.