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Chaucerian and Other Pieces/Piece10

[ 275 ]

X. A BALADE; IN COMMENDATION OF OUR LADY.

(A devoute balade by Lidegate of Bury, made at the reverence of oure lady, Qwene of mercy.—A.)

A thousand stories coude I mo reherce
Of olde poetes, touching this matere,
How that Cupyde the hertes gan so perce
Of his servauntes, setting hem on fere;
Lo, here the fyn of th'errour and the were!       5
Lo, here of love the guerdon and grevaunce
That ever with wo his servaunts doth avaunce!

Wherfor now playnly I wol my style dresse
Of one to speke, at nede that wol nat fayle;
Alas! for dole, I ne can ne may expresse       10
Her passing pryse, and that is no mervayle.
O wind of grace, now blow into my sayle!
O aureat licour of Cleo, for to wryte
My penne enspyre, of that I wolde endyte!

Alas! unworthy I am and unable       15
To love suche oon, al women surmounting,
To be benigne to me, and merciable,
[ 276 ]That is of pitè the welle and eek the spring!
Wherfor of her, in laude and in praysing,
So as I can, supported by her grace,       20
Right thus I say, kneling tofore her face:—

O sterre of sterres, with thy stremes clere,
Sterre of the see, to shipmen light and gyde,
O lusty living, most plesaunt to apere,
Whos brighte bemes the cloudes may not hyde;       25
O way of lyf to hem that go or ryde,
Haven from tempest, surest up to ryve,
On me have mercy, for thy joyes fyve!

O rightful rule, O rote of holinesse,
And lightsom lyne of pitè for to playne,       30
Original ginning of grace and al goodnesse,
Clenest conduit of vertue soverayne,
Moder of mercy, our trouble to restrayne,
Chambre and closet clenest of chastitè,
And named herberwe of the deitè!       35

O hoolsom garden, al voyde of wedes wikke,
Cristallin welle, of clennesse clere consigned,
Fructif olyve, of foyles faire and thikke,
And redolent cedre, most dereworthly digned,
Remembre on sinners unto thee assigned       40
Er wikked fendes hir wrathe upon hem wreche;
Lanterne of light, thou be hir lyves leche!

Paradyse of plesaunce, gladsom to al good,
Benigne braunchelet of the pyne-tree,
Vyneyerd vermayle, refressher of our food,       45
[ 277 ]Licour ayein languor, palled that may not be,
Blisful bawme-blossom, byding in bountè,
Thy mantel of mercy on our mischef sprede,
And er wo wake, wrappe us under thy wede!

O rody rosier, flouring withouten spyne,       50
Fountayne filthles, as beryl currant clere,
Som drope of graceful dewe to us propyne;
Light withoute nebule, shyning in thy spere,
Medecyne to mischeves, pucelle withouten pere,
Flame doun to doleful light of thyn influence       55
On thy servauntes, for thy magnificence!

Of al Christen protectrice and tutele,
Retour of exyled, put in prescripcioun
To hem that erre in the pathe of hir sequele;
To wery wandred tent and pavilioun,       60
The feynte to fresshe, and the pausacioun;
Unto unresty bothe reste and remedye,
Fruteful to al tho that in her affye.

To hem that rennen thou art itinerárie,
O blisful bravie to knightes of thy werre;       65
To wery werkmen thou art diourn denárie,
Mede unto mariners that have sayled ferre;
Laureat crowne, streming as a sterre
To hem that putte hem in palestre for thy sake,
Cours of her conquest, thou whyte as any lake!       70

Thou mirthe of martyrs, sweter than citole,
Of confessours also richest donatyf,
[ 278 ]Unto virgynes eternal lauriole,
Afore al women having prerogatyf;
Moder and mayde, bothe widowe and wyf,       75
Of al the worlde is noon but thou alone!
Now, sith thou may, be socour to my mone!

O trusty turtle, trewest of al trewe,
O curteyse columbe, replete of al mekenesse,
O nightingale with thy notes newe,       80
O popinjay, plumed with al clennesse,
O laverok of love, singing with swetnesse,
Phebus, awayting til in thy brest he lighte
Under thy winge at domesday us dighte!

O ruby, rubifyed in the passioun       85
Al of thy sone, among have us in minde,
O stedfast dyamaunt of duracioun,
That fewe feres that tyme might thou finde,
For noon to him was founden half so kinde!
O hardy herte, O loving crëature,       90
What was it but love that made thee so endure?

Semely saphyre, depe loupe, and blewe ewage,
Stable as the loupe, ewage of pitè,
This is to say, the fresshest of visage,
Thou lovest hem unchaunged that serven thee.       95
And if offence or wrything in hem be,
Thou art ay redy upon hir wo to rewe,
And hem receyvest with herte ful trewe.

O goodly gladded, whan that Gabriel
With joy thee grette that may not be nombred!       100
Or half the blisse who coude wryte or tel
Whan the holy goost to thee was obumbred,
Wherthrough fendes were utterly encombred?
O wemlees mayde, embelisshed in his birthe,
That man and aungel therof hadden mirthe!       105
[ 279 ]
Lo, here the blossom and the budde of glorie,
Of which the prophet spak so longe aforn;
Lo, here the same that was in memórie
Of Isaie, so longe or she was born;
Lo, here of David the delicious corn;       110
Lo, here the ground that list [him] to onbelde,
Becoming man, our raunsom for to yelde!

O glorious vyole, O vytre inviolat!
O fyry Tytan, persing with thy bemes,
Whos vertuous brightnes was in thy brest vibrat,       115
That al the world embelisshed with his lemes!
Conservatrice of kingdomes and remes;
Of Isaies sede O swete Sunamyte,
Mesure my mourning, myn owne Margaryte!

O sovereignest, sought out of Sion,       120
O punical pome ayens al pestilence;
And aureat urne, in whom was bouk and boon
The agnelet, that faught for our offence
Ayens the serpent with so high defence
That lyk a lyoun in victorie he was founde;       125
To him commende us, of mercy most habounde!

O precious perle, withouten any pere,
Cockle with gold dew from above berayned,
Thou busshe unbrent, fyrles set a-fere,
Flambing with fervence, not with hete payned;       130
Thou during daysye, with no †weder stayned;
Flees undefouled of gentil Gedeon,
And fructifying yerd thou of Aaron.
[ 280 ]
Thou misty arke, probatik piscyne,
Laughing Aurora, and of pees olyve;       135
Columpne and base, up bering from abyme;
Why nere I conning, thee for to discryve?
Chosen of Joseph, whom he took to wyve,
Unknowing him, childing by greet mirácle,
And of our manhode trewe tabernacle!       140


From Th.; collated with A. (Ashmole 59); and Sl. (Sloane 1212). 1. A. I kouþe to you. 2. A. clerkis (for poetes); the (for this). 3. A. cane mens hertes presse (!). 4. Th. hem; A. þeire hertes. Th. in fere; A. a fuyre. 5. A. With ful daunger payeþe his subgettes hyre. Sl. weere; Th. fere. 7. Th. Sl. euer; A. aye. Sl. A. his ... doth; Th. her ... do. 8. Th. nowe; A. om. Sl. redresse. 10. A. Ellas I ne can ne may not ful expresse. 11. Th. Sl. and that; A. the whiche. 12. Th. wynde. Sl. into; Th. unto. A. þou blowe nowe to my. 13. Th. auryate; A. aureate. A. om. of. 14. A. tenspyre of whiche I thenk to wryte. Sl. wold; Th. wol. 15. A. But sith I am sonworthy (!). 16. Sl. on; Th. A. one. 17. A. To; Th. Sl. But she.

18. A. Whiche of pytee is welle. 19. Th. Sl. of; A. to. 20. Th. Sl. can; A. am. 22. A. O souereine sterre. 24. Sl. lemand (for living). Sl. most; Th. A. moste. 25. Th. Whose bright beames. Th. Sl. may; A. cane. 26. A. lyff; Th. Sl. lyfe. 27. A. frome; Th. Sl. after. 29. Sl. rote; Th. A. bote. 31. A. gynnyng of grace and; Th. Sl. begynning of grace and al. 32. A. Clennest; Th. And clenest. Th. Sl. ins. most bef. sovereyne. 33. A. Moder; Th. Mother. 34. A. al cloose closette; Th. Sl. and closet clennest. 35. Th. herbrough; Sl. herberwe. A. The hyest herber (!) of al the. 36. A. holsome; Th. Sl. closed. A. om. al. 37. A. Welle cristallyne. A. Sl. clennesse; Th. clerenesse. 38. A. Fructyff; Th. Fructyfyed. Th. fayre; A. so feyre. 39. A. om. And. A. om. most. 40. A om. on. Sl. pecchours (for sinners). A. unto; Th. Sl. that to the be. 41. Th. Sl. Or wikked; A. Er foule. A. on hem þeire wrathe. Sl. upon; Th. on. 42. Th. om. be. 43. A. Thou Paradys plesante, gladnesse of goode. 44. A. And benigne braunche. 45. A. Vyneyerde vermayle; Th. Sl. Vynarie enuermayled. Sl. food; Th. A. bote.

46. Th. ayen al langour; A. geyne langoure. A. palde that; Th. Sl. that palled. 47. Sl. Blisful bawme; A. Thou blessed; Th. Blysful blomy. 48. Sl. misericord on our myschef. Th. on our myserie; A. vppon vs spilt thou. 49. Th. awake. A. wake and wrappe vs ay vnder. 50. A. O rede roos raylling withouten. Th. without. 51. Th. al fylthlesse; A. om. al. A. currant as beryle. Th. byrel. 52. Th. Sl. of thy; I omit thy. A. Grace of thy dewe til vs thou do propyne. 53. Th. O light; Sl. Thou lyght. A. Thou louely light, shynynge in bright spere. 54. A. missers; Th. mischeues; Sl. myscheuows. A. withouten; Th. without. 55. Th. Flambe; A. Dryve. Sl. to; Th. A. the. A. om. doleful. 56. A. On; Th. Sl. Remembring. 58. Sl. Retour; Th. Returne; A. Recure. A. Sl. in; Th. in the. 59. A. To therroures of the pathe sequele. 60. A. For (for To). Sl. wandrid; Th. forwandred; A. wandering. 61. So A. Th. To faynte and to fresshe the. 62. A. To wery wightes ful reste. 63. Th. tho that; A. that hem. A. omits ll. 64-119. 64. Th. arte. 66. Sl. thou art; Th. she is. Th. diourne. 68. Th. Laureate. 69. Th. put; palastre. 71. Sl. Thow; Th. O. Th. myrthe; swetter; sytole. 72. Sl. om. also. Th. donatyfe.

74. Th. -tyfe. 75. Th. Mother; wyfe. 76. Sl. In all this. Sl. noon; Th. none. 78. Sl. trewest; Th. truefastest. 81. Sl. plumed; Th. pured. 82. Sl. larke. 83. Sl. in; Th. on. 83, 84. lyght, dyght. 85. passyon. 86. Sl. Alle; Th. om. Th. sonne. Sl. among haue us; Th. vs haue amonge. 87. Sl. dyamaunt; Th. dyametre. 88. Sl. that; Th. any. 89. halfe. 91. the. 92. Th. saphre (sic); Sl. saffyr. 95. So Sl. Th. unchaunged hem. 96. Sl. writhyng; Th. varyeng. 97. arte; her. 98. hert; see note. 99. gladed. 100. the. 102. goste; the. 103. Sl. vtterly; Th. bytterly. 104. wemlesse. Th. in; Sl. with.

106. blosme. 107. Th. prophete; Sl. prophetys. Sl. spak so long aforn; Th. so longe spake beforne. 109, 110. borne, corne. 111. Th. of lyfe in to bilde; Sl. that list to onbelde. 113. Sl. o vitre; Th. and vyte. Th. inuyolate. 115. Th. om. thy; vibrate. 116. Sl. his; Th. the. 117. Sl. kyngdamys; Th. kynges dukes. Sl. remys; Th. realmes. 118. Sl. o; Th. om. 120. A. souereine. Th. A. sought; Sl. sowth. Th. out of; Sl. of out; A. fer oute. 121-127. In Sl. only. 121. Sl. alle. 122. Sl. auryat; book and born (!); see note. 125. Sl. victory. 126. Sl. moost. 127. Sl. ony. 128. Th. golde dewe; A. glorie. 129. A. Sl. Thou; Th. Dewe (!). Sl. ferlett (!) set affere; A. fuyrles thou sette vppon; Th. fyrelesse fyre set on. 130. Sl. peyned; A. empeyred (!). 131. Sl. Th. om. Thou. A. with; Th. that. Th. A. wether. A. disteyned. 132. Th. Fleece. A. gentyle; Th. gentylest. 133. Th. Sl. insert fayrest after fructifyeng (sic). A. yerde thowe; Th. Sl. the yerde.

134. A. Thowe; Sl. Th. The. Sl. mysti; Th. A. mighty. Sl. probatyk; Th. probatyfe; A. the probatyf. 135. A. Aurora; Th. aurore. A. tholyve; Sl. Th. olyue. 136. A. Pillor from base beryng from abysme. 137. A. Why nad I langage. Sl. the for; A. hir for; Th. here. 138. Th. toke. A. Chosen of god, whome Joseph gaf (!) to wyve. 139. Th. Sl. childyng; A. bare Cryste. Th. Sl. om. greet. 140. Th. And of our manly figure the; Sl. And of oure mar (!) figure; A. And of Ihesus manhode truwe.