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[ 281 ]

XI. TO MY SOVERAIN LADY.

I have non English convenient and digne
Myn hertes hele, lady, thee with t'honoure,
Ivorie clene; therfore I wol resigne
In-to thyn hand, til thou list socoure
To help my making bothe florisshe and floure;       5
Than shulde I shewe, in love how I brende,
In songes making, thy name to commende.

For if I coude before thyn excellence
Singen in love, I wolde, what I fele,
And ever standen, lady, in thy presence,       10
To shewe in open how I love you wele;
And sith, although your herte be mad of stele,
To you, withoute any disseveraunce,
J'ay en vous toute ma fiaunce.

Wher might I love ever better besette       15
Than in this lilie, lyking to beholde?
The lace of love, the bond so wel thou knette,
That I may see thee or myn herte colde,
And or I passe out of my dayes olde,
Tofore singing evermore utterly—       20
'Your eyën two wol slee me sodainly.'

For love I langour, blissed be such seknesse,
Sith it is for you, my hertely suffisaunce;
I can not elles saye, in my distresse,
So fair oon hath myn herte in governaunce;       25
And after that I †ginne on esperaunce
[ 282 ]With feble entune, though it thyn herte perce,
Yet for thy sake this lettre I do reherce.

God wot, on musike I can not, but I gesse,
(Alas! why so?) that I might say or singe,       30
So love I you, myn own soverain maistresse,
And ever shal, withouten départinge.
Mirrour of beautè, for you out shuld I ringe,
In rémembraunce eke of your eyen clere,
Thus fer from you, my soverain lady dere!       35

So wolde god your love wold me slo,
Sith, for your sake, I singe day by day;
Herte, why nilt thou [never] breke a-two,
Sith with my lady dwellen I ne may?
Thus many a roundel and many a virelay       40
In fresshe Englisshe, whan I me layser finde,
I do recorde, on you to have minde!

Now, lady myn! sith I you love and drede,
And you unchaunged finde, in o degree,
Whos grace ne may flye fro your womanhede,       45
Disdayneth not for to remembre on me!
Myn herte bledeth, for I may nat you see;
And sith ye wot my mening désirous,
Pleurez pur moi, si vous plaist amorous!

What marveyle is, though I in payne be?       50
I am departed from you, my soveraine;
Fortune, alas! dont vient la destenee,
That in no wyse I can ne may attayne
To see the beautè of your eyën twayne.
Wherfore I say, for tristesse doth me grame,       55
Tant me fait mal departir de ma dame!

Why nere my wisshing brought to suche esploit
That I might say, for joye of your presence,
'Ore a man cuer ce quil veuilloit,
Ore a man cuer the highest excellence       60
That ever had wight;' and sith myn advertence
[ 283 ]Is in you, reweth on my paynes smerte,
I am so sore wounded to the herte.

To live wel mery, two lovers were y-fere,
So may I say withouten any blame;       65
If any man [per cas] to wilde were,
I coude him [sonë] teche to be tame;
Let him go love, and see wher it be game!
For I am brydled unto sobernesse
For her, that is of women cheef princesse.       70

But ever, whan thought shulde my herte embrace,
Than unto me is beste remedye,
Whan I loke on your goodly fresshe face;
So mery a mirrour coude I never espye;
And, if I coude, I wolde it magnifye.       75
For never non was [here] so faire y-founde,
To reken hem al, and also Rosamounde.

And fynally, with mouthe and wil present
Of double eye, withoute repentaunce,
Myn herte I yeve you, lady, in this entent,       80
That ye shal hoolly therof have governaunce;
Taking my leve with hertes obeysaunce,
'Salve, regina!' singing laste of al,
To be our helpe, whan we to thee cal!

Al our lovë is but ydelnesse       85
Save your aloon; who might therto attayne?
Who-so wol have a name of gentillesse,
I counsayle him in love that he not fayne.
Thou swete lady! refut in every payne,
Whos [pitous] mercy most to me avayleth       90
To gye by grace, whan that fortune fayleth.

Nought may be told, withouten any fable,
Your high renome, your womanly beautè;
Your governaunce, to al worship able,
Putteth every herte in ese in his degree.       95
O violet, O flour desiree,
[ 284 ]Sith I am for you so amorous,
Estreynez moy, [lady,] de cuer joyous!

With fervent herte my brest hath broste on fyre;
L'ardant espoir que mon cuer poynt, est mort,       100
D'avoir l'amour de celle que je desyre,
I mene you, swete, most plesaunt of port,
Et je sai bien que ceo n'est pas mon tort
That for you singe, so as I may, for mone
For your departing; alone I live, alone.       105

Though I mighte, I wolde non other chese;
In your servyce, I wolde be founden sad;
Therfore I love no labour that ye lese,
Whan, in longing, sorest ye be stad;
Loke up, ye lovers [alle], and be right glad       110
Ayeines sëynt Valentynes day,
For I have chose that never forsake I may!

Explicit.


From Th. (Thynne, ed. 1532); I note rejected spellings. 1. none englysshe. 2. heale; the; to honour. 3. cleane. 4. thyne hande; socoure. 5. helpe; flour. 6. howe. 8. thyne. 11. howe. 12. made. 13. withouten; disceueraunce. 14. tout. 15. Where; beset. 17. bonde; knyt. 18. se the; myne. 22. sicknesse. 23. Sythe. 24. els say. 25. fayre one; myne. 26. begynne; read ginne.

27. thyne. 28. letter. 30. wote. 31. owne; maistres. 32. without. 35. ferre. 36. wolde (twice). 37. Sythe. 38. nylte; I supply never; breake. 39. Sythe; dwel. 43. Nowe; myne sithe. 44. euer fynde (om. euer). 45. Whose. 47. Myne; se. 48. sithe; wotte; meanyng. 49. Plures; moy. 52. destenie. 53. canne. 54. se. 55. dothe. 56. male. 58. ioye. 61. sithe myne.

66. Short line; I insert per cas. 67. Short line; I insert sone. for to; I omit for. 68. Lette; se where. 70. chefe. 71. my hert shuld. 72. best remedy. 74. espy. 76. none; I insert here. 79. without. 81. holy. 82. leaue. 84. the. 86. your loue alone; om. loue. 89. refute. 90. Whose; I insert pitous. 92. tolde. 95. ease. 96. floure.

97. Sythe; amerous. 98. Estreynes; I insert lady to fill out the line. 99. brost. 102. meane; porte. 103. say. 106. myght; none. 107. sadde. 109. stadde. 110. I supply alle; gladde. 111. Ayenst saynt. 112. chese (read chose).