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[ 405 ]

XIX. THE COMPLEINT OF CHAUCER TO HIS EMPTY PURSE.

To you, my purse, and to non other wight
Compleyne I, for ye be my lady dere!
I am so sory, now that ye be light;
For certes, but ye make me hevy chere,
Me were as leef be leyd up-on my bere;       5
For whiche un-to your mercy thus I crye:
Beth hevy ageyn, or elles mot I dye!

Now voucheth sauf this day, or hit be night,
That I of you the blisful soun may here,
Or see your colour lyk the sonne bright,       10
That of yelownesse hadde never pere.
Ye be my lyf, ye be myn hertes stere,
Quene of comfort and of good companye:
Beth hevy ageyn, or elles mot I dye!

Now purs, that be to me my lyves light,       15
And saveour, as doun in this worlde here,
Out of this toune help me through your might,
Sin that ye wole nat been my tresorere;
For I am shave as nye as any frere.
[ 406 ]But yit I pray un-to your curtesye:       20
Beth hevy ageyn, or elles mot I dye!

Lenvoy de Chaucer.

O conquerour of Brutes Albioun!
Which that by lyne and free eleccioun
Ben verray king, this song to you I sende;
And ye, that mowen al our harm amende,       25
Have minde up-on my supplicacioun!


The MSS. are: F. (Fairfax 16); Harl (Harl. 7333); Ff. (Camb. Univ. Library, Ff. I.6): P. (Pepys 2006); Add. (Addit. 22139); also Cx. (Caxton's edition); Th. (Thynne, 1532). I follow F. mainly.

Title. So in Cx. (but with Un-to for to); F. om. empty; P. La compleint de Chaucer a sa Bourse Voide.

1. F. yow. 2. F. Complayn; Harl. P. Compleyne. 3. Harl. be; F. been. 4. Add. That; P. But; rest For. P. Add. but ye; F. Harl. but yf ye; Ff. but yif ye; Cx. Th. ye now. 5. Add. leyd; F. layde. 7. F. Beeth; ageyne; mote. 8. F. hyt; nyght. 9. F. yow; sovne. 10. F. lyke; bryght. 11. Read That of yél-ownés-se. 12. F. lyfe; hertys. 14. F. ageyne; moote. 15. P. Cx. purs; F. Add. purse. F. ben. 17. F. Oute; helpe; thurgh. 18. F. bene. 19. Harl. P. Th. any; Add. eny; Cx. ony; F. is a.

21. F. Bethe; ayen; moote. F. Lenvoy de Chaucer; Harl. P. Lenvoye; Cx. Thenuoye of Chaucer vnto the kynge. 23. F. Whiche. F. lygne; Harl. Cx. Ff. P. lyne. 24. F. Been; kynge; yow. 25. F. alle myn harme; Ff. alle oure harmes; Harl. all oure harmous; P. Cx. alle harmes.