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[ 245 ]



In May, whan Flora, the fresshe lusty quene,
The soile hath clad in grene, rede, and whyte,
And Phebus gan to shede his stremes shene
Amid the Bole, with al the bemes brighte,
And Lucifer, to chace awey the night,       5
Ayen the morowe our orizont hath take
To bidde lovers out of hir sleepe awake,

And hertes hevy for to recomforte
From dreriheed of hevy nightes sorowe,
Nature bad hem ryse, and hem disporte,       10
Ayen the goodly, gladde, greye morowe;
And Hope also, with seint Johan to borowe,
Bad, in dispyt of daunger and dispeyre,
For to take the hoolsom lusty eyre:

And with a sigh I gan for to abreyde       15
Out of my slombre, and sodainly up sterte
As he, alas! that nigh for sorowe deyde,
My sekenes sat ay so nigh my herte.
But, for to finde socour of my smerte,
[ 246 ]Or at the leste som réles of my peyne,       20
That me so sore halt in every veyne,

I roos anon, and thoghte I wolde goon
Into the wode, to here the briddes singe,
Whan that the misty vapour was agoon
And clere and faire was the morowning;       25
The dewe also, lyk silver in shyning
Upon the leves, as any baume swete,
Til fyry Tytan, with his persaunt hete,

Had dryed up the lusty licour newe
Upon the herbes in the grene mede,       30
And that the floures, of many dyvers hewe,
Upon hir stalkes gonne for to sprede
And for to splaye[n] out hir leves on-brede
Agayn the sonne, gold-burned in his spere,
That doun to hem caste his bemes clere.       35

And by a river forth I gan costey
Of water clere as berel or cristal
Til at the laste I found a litel wey
Toward a park, enclosed with a wal
In compas rounde, and by a gate smal       40
Who-so that wolde frely mighte goon
Into this park, walled with grene stoon.

And in I wente, to here the briddes song,
Whiche on the braunches, bothe in playn and vale,
So loude songe, that al the wode rong       45
Lyke as it shulde shiver in peces smale;
And, as me thoughte, that the nightingale
[ 247 ]With so gret mighte her voys gan out-wreste
Right as her herte for love wolde breste.

The soil was playn, smothe, and wonder softe       50
Al oversprad with tapites that Nature
Had mad her-selve, celured eek alofte
With bowes grene, the floures for to cure,
That in hir beautè they may longe endure
From al assaut of Phebus fervent fere,       55
Whiche in his spere so hote shoon and clere.

The eyre attempre, and the smothe wind
Of Zepherus, among the blossomes whyte,
So hoolsom was and norisshing by kind,
That smale buddes, and rounde blomes lyte       60
In maner gonnen of her brethe delyte
To yeve us hope that hir fruit shal take,
Ayens autumpne, redy for to shake.

I saw ther Daphne, closed under rinde,
Grene laurer, and the hoolsom pyne;       65
The myrre also, that wepeth ever of kinde;
The cedres hye, upright as a lyne;
The philbert eek, that lowe doth enclyne
Her bowes grene to the erthe adoun
Unto her knight, y-called Demophoun.       70

Ther saw I eek the fresshe hawëthorn
In whyte motlè, that so swote doth smelle,
Ash, firre, and ook, with many a yong acorn,
[ 248 ]And many a tree—mo than I can telle;
And, me beforn, I saw a litel welle,       75
That had his cours, as I gan beholde,
Under an hille, with quikke stremes colde.

The gravel gold, the water pure as glas,
The bankes rounde, the welle envyroning;
And softe as veluët the yonge gras       80
That therupon lustily cam springing;
The sute of trees aboute compassing
Hir shadowe caste, closing the welle rounde,
And al the herbes growing on the grounde.

The water was so hoolsom and vertuous       85
Through might of herbes growing there besyde,
Not lyk the welle, wher-as Narcisus
Y-slayn was, through vengeaunce of Cupyde,
Where so covertly he didë hyde
The grayn of cruel dethe upon ech brinke,       90
That deeth mot folowe, who that ever drinke;

Ne lyk the pittë of the Pegacè
Under Pernaso, where poetës slepte;
Nor lyk the welle of pure chastitè
Which that Dyane with her nymphes kepte,       95
Whan she naked into the water lepte,
That slow Acteon with his houndes felle
Only for he cam so nigh the welle!

Bút this welle, that I here reherce,
So hoolsom was, that it wolde aswage       100
Bollen hertes, and the venim perce
Of pensifheed, with al the cruel rage,
And evermore refresshe the visage
Of hem that were in any werinesse
Of greet labour, or fallen in distresse.       105
[ 249 ]
And I, that had, through daunger and disdayne,
So drye a thrust, thoughte I wolde assaye
To taste a draughte of this welle, or twayne,
My bitter langour if it mighte alaye;
And on the banke anon adoun I lay,       110
And with myn heed unto the welle I raughte,
And of the water drank I a good draughte;

Wherof, me thought, I was refresshed wele
Of the brenning that sat so nigh my herte,
That verily anon I gan to fele       115
An huge part relesed of my smerte;
And therwithallë anon up I sterte,
And thoughte I wolde walke, and see more
Forth in the parke, and in the holtes hore.

And through a laundë as I yede a-pace       120
And gan aboute faste to beholde,
I found anon a délitable place
That was beset with treës yonge and olde,
Whose names here for me shal not be tolde;
Amidde of whiche stood an herber grene,       125
That benched was, with colours newe and clene.

Thís herber was ful of floures inde,
In-to the whiche as I beholde gan,
Betwix an hulfere and a wodëbinde,
As I was war, I saw wher lay a man       130
In blakke and whyte colour, pale and wan,
And wonder deedly also of his hewe,
Of hurtes grene and fresshe woundes newe.

And overmore distrayned with sekenesse,
Besyde al this, he was, ful grevously;       135
For upon him he had an hoot accesse,
That day by day him shook ful pitously;
So that, for constreynt of his malady
And hertly wo, thus lying al alone,
It was a deeth for to here him grone.       140
[ 250 ]
Wherof astonied, my foot I gan withdrawe,
Greetly wondring what it mighte be
That he so lay, and hadde no felawe,
Ne that I coude no wight with him see;
Wherof I hadde routhe, and eek pitè,       145
And gan anon, so softely as I coude,
Among the busshes me prively to shroude;

If that I mighte in any wyse espye
What was the cause of his deedly wo,
Or why that he so pitously gan crye       150
On his fortune, and on his ure also;
With al my might I layde an ere to,
Every word to marke, what he seyde,
Out of his swough among as he abrayde.

But first, if I shulde make mencioun       155
Of his persone, and plainly him discryve,
He was in sothe, without excepcioun,
To speke of manhode, oon the best on-lyve;
Ther may no man ayen the trouthe stryve.
For of his tyme, and of his age also       160
He proved was, ther men shulde have ado,

For oon the beste there, of brede and lengthe
So wel y-mad by good proporcioun,
If he had be in his deliver strengthe;
But thought and seknesse were occasioun       165
That he thus lay, in lamentacioun,
Gruffe on the grounde, in place desolat,
Sole by him-self, awhaped and amat.

And, for me semeth that it is sitting
His wordes al to putte in remembraunce,       170
To me, that herdë al his complayning
And al the groundë of his woful chaunce,
If ther-withal I may you do plesaunce,
I wol to you, so as I can, anon,
Lyk as he sayde, reherce hem everichon.       175
[ 251 ]
But who shal helpe me now to complayne?
Or who shal now my style gye or lede?
O Niobè, let now thy teres rayne
In-to my penne; and helpe eek in this nede,
Thou woful Mirre, that felest my herte blede       180
Of pitous wo, and myn hand eek quake
Whan that I wryte, for this mannes sake!

For unto wo accordeth complayning
And doleful cherë unto hevinesse;
To sorowe also, syghing and weping,       185
And pitous mourning, unto drerinesse;
And whoso that shal wryten of distresse
In party nedeth to knowe felingly
Cause and rote of al such malady.

But I, alas! that am of witte but dulle,       190
And have no knowing of such matere,
For to discryve and wryten at the fulle
The woful complaynt, which that ye shal here,
But even-lyk as doth a skrivenere
That can no more what that he shal wryte,       195
But as his maister besyde doth endyte;

Right so fare I, that of no sentement
Saye right naught, as in conclusioun,
But as I herde, whan I was present,
This man complayne with a pitous soun;       200
For even-lyk, without addicioun
Or disencrees, either more or lesse,
For to reherce anon I wol me dresse.

And if that any now be in this place
That fele in love brenning or fervence,       205
Or hindred werë to his lady grace
With false tonges, that with pestilence
Slee trewe men that never did offence
In word nor dede, ne in hir entent—
If any suche be here now present,       210
[ 252 ]
Let him of routhe lay to audience,
With doleful chere and sobre countenaunce,
To here this man, by ful high sentence,
His mortal wo and his gret perturbaunce
Cómplayning, now lying in a traunce,       215
With lokes upcaste, and with ruful chere,
Th' effect of whiche was as ye shal here.—


The thought oppressed with inward sighes sore,
The painful lyf, the body languisshing,
The woful gost, the herte rent and tore,       220
The pitous chere, pale in compleyning,
The deedly face, lyk ashes in shyning,
The salte teres that fro myn eyën falle,
Parcel declare grounde of my peynes alle:

Whos herte is grounde to blede in hevinesse;       225
The thought, resceyt of wo and of complaynt;
The brest is cheste of dole and drerinesse;
The body eek so feble and so faynt;
With hote and colde myn acces is so meynt,
That now I chiver for defaute of hete,       230
And, hoot as gleed, now sodainly I swete.

Now hoot as fyr, now cold as asshes dede,
Now hoot fro cold, now cold fro hete agayn;
Now cold as ys, now as coles rede
For hete I brenne; and thus, betwixe twayne,       235
I possed am, and al forcast in payne;
So that my hete plainly, as I fele,
Of grevous cold is causë, every-deel.

This is the cold of inward high disdayne,
Cold of dispyt, and cold of cruel hate;       240
This is the cold that doth his besy payne
Ayeines trouthe to fighte and to debate.
This is the cold that wolde the fyr abate
[ 253 ]Of trewe mening; alas! the harde whyle!
This is the cold that wolde me begyle.       245

For ever the better that in trouthe I mente
With al my mighte faythfully to serve,
With herte and al for to be diligent,
The lesse thank, alas! I can deserve!
Thus for my trouthe Daunger doth me sterve.       250
For oon that shulde my deeth, of mercy, lette
Hath mad despyt newe his swerd to whette

Ayeines me, and his arowes to fyle
To take vengeaunce of wilful crueltè;
And tonges false, through hir sleightly wyle,       255
Han gonne a werre that wil not stinted be;
And fals Envye, Wrathe, and Enmitè,
Have conspired, ayeines al right and lawe,
Of hir malyce, that Trouthe shal be slawe.

And Male-Bouche gan first the tale telle,       260
To slaundre Trouthe, of indignacioun;
And Fals-Report so loude rong the belle,
That Misbeleve and Fals-Suspeccioun,
Have Trouthe brought to his dampnacioun,
So that, alas! wrongfully he dyeth,       265
And Falsnes now his placë occupyeth,

And entred is in-to Trouthes lond,
And hath therof the ful possessioun.
O rightful god, that first the trouthe fond,
How may thou suffre such oppressioun,       270
That Falshood shulde have jurisdiccioun
In Trouthes right, to slee him giltëlees?
In his fraunchyse he may not live in pees.

Falsly accused, and of his foon forjuged,
Without answere, whyl he was absent,       275
He dampned was, and may not ben excused,
[ 254 ]For Crueltè sat in jugëment
Of hastinesse, withoute avysëment,
And bad Disdayn do execute anon
His jugëment, in presence of his foon.       280

Attourney noon ne may admitted been
T'ëxcuse Trouthë, ne a word to speke;
To fayth or ooth the juge list not seen,
There is no gayn, but he wil be wreke.
O lord of trouthe, to thee I calle and clepe;       285
How may thou see, thus in thy presence,
Withoute mercy, murdred innocence?

Now god, that art of trouthe soverain
And seëst how I lye for trouthe bounde,
So sore knit in loves fyry chain       290
Even at the deth, through-girt with many a wounde
That lykly are never for to sounde,
And for my trouthe am dampned to the deeth,
And not abyde, but drawe along the breeth:

Consider and see, in thyn eternal right,       295
How that myn herte professed whylom was
For to be trewe with al my fulle might
Only to oon, the whiche now, alas!
Of voluntè, withoute any trespas,
Myn accusours hath taken unto grace,       300
And cherissheth hem, my deth for to purchace.

What meneth this? what is this wonder ure
Of purveyauncë, if I shal it calle,
Of god of love, that false hem so assure,
And trewe, alas! doun of the whele ben falle?       305
And yet in sothe, this is the worst of alle,
That Falshed wrongfully of Trouthe hath name,
And Trouthe ayenward of Falshed bereth the blame.

This blinde chaunce, this stormy aventure,
In lovë hath most his experience;       310
For who that doth with trouthe most his cure
[ 255 ]Shal for his mede finde most offence,
That serveth love with al his diligence;
For who can faynë, under lowliheed,
Ne fayleth not to finde grace and speed.       315

For I loved oon, ful longë sith agoon,
With al my herte, body, and ful might,
And, to be deed, my herte can not goon
From his hest, but holde that he hath hight;
Though I be banisshed out of her sight,       320
And by her mouth dampned that I shal deye,
†To my behest yet I wil ever obeye.

For ever, sithë that the world began,
Who-so list lokë, and in storie rede,
He shal ay finde that the trewe man       325
Was put abakke, wher-as the falshede
Y-furthered was; for Love taketh non hede
To slee the trewe, and hath of hem no charge,
Wher-as the false goth freely at hir large.

I take recorde of Palamides,       330
The trewe man, the noble worthy knight,
That ever loved, and of his payn no relees;
Notwithstonding his manhood and his might
Love unto him did ful greet unright;
For ay the bet he did in chevalrye,       335
The more he was hindred by envye.

And ay the bet he did in every place
Through his knighthood and his besy payne,
The ferther was he from his lady grace,
For to her mercy mighte he never attayne;       340
And to his deth he coude it not refrayne
For no daungere, but ay obey and serve
As he best coude, plainly, til he sterve.

What was the fyne also of Hercules,
For al his conquest and his worthinesse,       345
That was of strengthe alone pereles?
[ 256 ]For, lyk as bokes of him list expresse,
He sette pillers, through his hy prowesse,
Away at Gades, for to signifye
That no man mighte him passe in chevalrye.       350

The whiche pillers ben ferre beyonde Inde
Beset of golde, for a remembraunce;
And, for al that, was he set behinde
With hem that Love liste febly avaunce;
For [he] him sette last upon a daunce,       355
Ageynes whom helpe may no stryf;
For al his trouthe, yit he loste his lyf.

Phebus also, for al his persaunt light,
Whan that he wente here in erthe lowe,
Unto the herte with fresh Venus sight       360
Y-wounded was, through Cupydes bowe,
And yet his lady liste him not to knowe.
Though for her love his herte didë blede,
She leet him go, and took of him no hede.

What shal I saye of yonge Piramus?       365
Of trew Tristram, for al his hye renoun?
Of Achilles, or of Antonius?
Of Arcite eke, or of him Palemoun?
What was the endë of hir passioun
But, after sorowe, deeth, and than hir grave?       370
Lo, here the guerdon that these lovers have!

But false Jason, with his doublenesse,
That was untrewe at Colkos to Medee,
And Theseus, rote of unkindënesse,
And with these two eek the false Enee;       375
Lo! thus the falsë, ay in oon degrè,
Had in love hir lust and al hir wille;
And, save falshood, ther was non other skille.

Of Thebes eek the false [knight] Arcyte,
And Demophon †also, for [al] his slouthe,       380
They had hir lust and al that might delyte
[ 257 ]For al hir falshode and hir greet untrouthe.
Thus ever Love (alas! and that is routhe!)
His false leges forthereth what he may,
And sleeth the trewe ungoodly, day by day.       385

For trewe Adon was slayn with the bore
Amid the forest, in the grene shade;
For Venus love he feltë al the sore.
But Vulcanus with her no mercy made;
The foule chorl had many nightes glade,       390
Wher Mars, her worthy knight, her trewe man,
To finde mercy, comfort noon he can.

Also the yonge fresshe Ipomenes
So lusty free [was], as of his corage,
That for to serve with al his herte he chees       395
Athalans, so fair of hir visage;
But Love, alas! quitte him so his wage
With cruel daunger plainly, at the laste,
That, with the dethe, guerdonles he paste.

Lo! here the fyne of loveres servyse!       400
Lo! how that Love can his servaunts quyte!
Lo! how he can his faythful men despyse,
To slee the trewe, and false to respyte!
Lo! how he doth the swerd of sorowe byte
In hertes, suche as most his lust obeye,       405
To save the false, and do the trewe deye!

For fayth nor ooth, word, ne assuraunce,
Trewe mening, awayte, or besinesse,
Stille port, ne faythful attendaunce,
Manhood, ne might, in armes worthinesse,       410
Pursute of worship, nor no hy prowesse,
In straunge lande ryding, ne travayle,
Ful lyte or nought in lovë doth avayle.
[ 258 ]
Peril of dethe, nother in see ne lande,
Hunger ne thurst, sorowe ne sekenesse,       415
Ne grete empryses for to take on hande,
Sheding of blode, ne manful hardinesse,
Ne ofte woundinge at sautes by distresse,
Nor †juparting of lyf, nor deeth also—
Al is for nought, Love taketh no hede therto!       420

But lesings, with hir false flaterye,
Through hir falshede, and with hir doublenesse,
With tales newe and many fayned lye,
By fals semblaunt and counterfet humblesse,
Under colour depeynt with stedfastnesse,       425
With fraude covered under a pitous face
Accepte been now rathest unto grace,

And can hem-selve now best magnifye
With fayned port and fals presumpcioun;
They haunce hir cause with fals surquedrye       430
Under meninge of double entencioun,
To thenken oon in hir opinioun
And saye another; to sette hemselve alofte
And hinder trouthe, as it is seyn ful ofte.

The whiche thing I bye now al to dere,       435
Thanked be Venus and the god Cupyde!
As it is sene by myn oppressed chere,
And by his arowes that stiken in my syde,
That, sauf the deth, I nothing abyde
Fro day to day; alas, the harde whyle!       440
Whan ever his dart that him list to fyle,

My woful herte for to ryve a-two
For faute of mercy, and lak of pitè
Of her that causeth al my payne and wo
And list not ones, of grace, for to see       445
Unto my trouthe through her crueltee;
And, most of alle, yit I me complayne,
That she hath joy to laughen at my peyne!
[ 259 ]
And wilfully hath [she] my deeth y-sworn
Al giltëlees, and wot no cause why       450
Save for the trouthe that I have had aforn
To her alone to serve faithfully!
O god of lovë! unto thee I cry,
And to thy blinde double deitee
Of this gret wrongë I compleyne me,       455

And to thy stormy wilful variaunce
Y-meynt with chaunge and greet unstablenesse;
Now up, now doun, so renning is thy chaunce,
That thee to truste may be no sikernesse.
I wyte it nothing but thy doublenesse;       460
And who that is an archer and is †blent
Marketh nothing, but sheteth as he †went.

And for that he hath no discrecioun,
Withoute avys he let his arowe go;
For lakke of sight, and also of resoun,       465
In his shetinge, it happeth ofte so,
To hurte his frend rather than his fo;
So doth this god, [and] with his sharpe floon
The trewe sleeth, and let the false goon.

And of his wounding this is the worst of alle,       470
Whan he hurteth, he doth so cruel wreche
And maketh the seke for to crye and calle
Unto his fo, for to been his leche;
And hard it is, for a man to seche,
Upon the point of dethe in jupardye,       475
Unto his fo, to finde remedye!

Thus fareth it now even by me,
That to my fo, that yaf myn herte a wounde,
Mote aske grace, mercy, and pitè,
And namëly, ther wher non may be founde!       480
For now my sore my leche wil confounde,
[ 260 ]And god of kinde so hath set myn ure,
My lyves fo to have my wounde in cure!

Alas! the whyle now that I was born!
Or that I ever saw the brighte sonne!       485
For now I see, that ful longe aforn,
Or I was born, my desteny was sponne
By Parcas sustren, to slee me, if they conne;
For they my deth shopen or my sherte
Only for trouthe! I may it not asterte.       490

The mighty goddesse also of Nature
That under god hath the governaunce
Of worldly thinges committed to her cure,
Disposed hath, through her wys purveyaunce,
To yeve my lady so moche suffisaunce       495
Of al vertues, and therwithal purvyde
To murdre trouthe, hath take Daunger to gyde.

For bountè, beautè, shappe, and semeliheed,
Prudence, wit, passingly fairnesse,
Benigne port, glad chere with lowliheed,       500
Of womanheed right plenteous largesse,
Nature did in her fully empresse,
Whan she her wroughte; and alther-last Disdayne,
To hinder trouthe, she made her chamberlayne;

Whan Mistrust also, and Fals-Suspeccioun,       505
With Misbeleve, she made for to be
Cheef of counsayl to this conclusioun,
For to exyle Routhe, and eek Pitè,
Out of her court to make Mercy flee,
So that Dispyt now holdeth forth her reyne,       510
Through hasty bileve of tales that men feyne.

And thus I am, for my trouthe, alas!
Murdred and slayn with wordes sharpe and kene,
Giltlees, god wot, of al maner trespas,
And lye and blede upon this colde grene.       515
Now mercy, swete! mercy, my lyves quene!
And to your grace of mercy yet I preye,
In your servyse that your man may deye!
[ 261 ]
But if so be that I shal deye algate,
And that I shal non other mercy have,       520
Yet of my dethe let this be the date
That by your wille I was brought to my grave;
Or hastily, if that you list me save,
My sharpe woundes, that ake so and blede,
Of mercy, charme, and also of womanhede.       525

For other charme, playnly, is ther non
But only mercy, to helpe in this case;
For though my woundes blede ever in oon,
My lyf, my deeth, standeth in youre grace;
And though my gilt be nothing, alas!       530
I aske mercy in al my beste entente,
Redy to dye, if that ye assente.

For ther-ayeines shal I never stryve
In worde ne werke; playnly, I ne may;
For lever I have than to be alyve       535
To dye soothly, and it be her to pay;
Ye, though it be this eche same day
Or whan that ever her liste to devyse;
Suffyceth me to dye in your servyse.

And god, that knowest the thought of every wight       540
Right as it is, in †al thing thou mayst see,
Yet, ere I dye, with all my fulle might
Lowly I pray, to graunte[n] unto me
That ye, goodly, fayre, fresshe, and free,
Which slee me only for defaute of routhe,       545
Or that I dye, ye may knowe my trouthe.

For that, in sothe, suffyseth unto me,
And she it knowe in every circumstaunce;
And after, I am wel apayd that she
If that hir list, of dethe to do vengeaunce       550
Untó me, that am under her legeaunce;
[ 262 ]It sit me not her doom to disobeye,
But, at her luste, wilfully to deye.

Withoute grucching or rebellioun
In wille or worde, hoolly I assent,       555
Or any maner contradiccioun,
Fully to be at her commaundëment;
And, if I dyë, in my testament
My herte I sende, and my spirit also,
What-so-ever she list, with hem to do.       560

And alder-last unto her womanhede
And to her mercy me I recommaunde,
That lye now here, betwixe hope and drede,
Abyding playnly what she list commaunde.
For utterly, (this nis no demaunde),       565
Welcome to me, whyl me lasteth breeth,
Right at her choise, wher it be lyf or deeth!

In this matere more what mighte I seyn,
Sith in her hande and in her wille is al,
Both lyf and deeth, my joy and al my payn?       570
And fynally, my heste holde I shal,
Til my spirit, by desteny fatal,
Whan that her liste, fro my body wende;
Have here my trouthe, and thus I make an ende!'

And with that worde he gan syke as sore       575
Lyk as his herte ryve wolde atwayne,
And held his pees, and spak a word no more.
But, for to see his wo and mortal payne,
The teres gonne fro myn eyen rayne
Ful pitously, for very inward routhe       580
That I him saw so languisshing for trouthe.

And al this whyle my-self I kepte cloos
Among the bowes, and my-self gan hyde,
Til, at the laste, the woful man aroos,
And to a logge wente ther besyde,       585
Where, al the May, his custome was t'abyde,
[ 263 ]Sole, to complaynen of his paynes kene,
Fro yeer to yere, under the bowes grene.

And for bicause that it drow to the night
And that the sonne his ark diurnál       590
Y-passed was, so that his persaunt light,
His brighte bemes and his stremes al
Were in the wawes of the water fal,
Under the bordure of our ocëan,
His char of golde his cours so swiftly ran:       595

And whyl the twylight and the rowes rede
Of Phebus light were dëaurat a lyte,
A penne I took, and gan me faste spede
The woful playntë of this man to wryte
Word by wordë, as he did endyte;       600
Lyk as I herde, and coude him tho reporte,
I have here set, your hertes to disporte.

If ought be mis, layeth the wyte on me,
For I am worthy for to bere the blame
If any thing [here] misreported be,       605
To make this dytè for to seme lame
Through myn unconning; but, to sayn the same,
Lyk as this man his complaynt did expresse,
I aske mercy and forgivënesse.

And, as I wroot, me thoughte I saw a-ferre,       610
Fer in the weste, lustely appere
Esperus, the goodly brighte sterre,
So glad, so fair, so persaunt eek of chere,
I mene Venus, with her bemes clere,
That, hevy hertes only to releve,       615
Is wont, of custom, for to shewe at eve.

And I, as faste, fel doun on my knee
And even thus to her gan I to preye:—
'O lady Venus! so faire upon to see,
Let not this man for his trouthe deye,       620
For that joy thou haddest whan thou leye
With Mars thy knight, whan Vulcanus you fond,
And with a chayne invisible you bond
[ 264 ]
Togider, bothe twayne, in the same whyle
That al the court above celestial       625
At youre shame gan for to laughe and smyle!
A! fairë lady! welwilly founde at al,
Comfort to careful, O goddesse immortal!
Be helping now, and do thy diligence
To let the stremes of thyn influence       630

Descende doun, in forthering of the trouthe,
Namely, of hem that lye in sorowe bounde;
Shew now thy might, and on hir wo have routhe
Er fals Daunger slee hem and confounde.
And specially, let thy might be founde       635
For to socourë, what-so that thou may,
The trewe man that in the herber lay,

And alle trewe forther, for his sake,
O gladde sterre, O lady Venus myne!
And cause his lady him to grace take.       640
Her herte of stele to mercy so enclyne,
Er that thy bemes go up, to declyne,
And er that thou now go fro us adoun,
Fór that love thou haddest to Adoun!'

And whan that she was gon unto her reste,       645
I roos anon, and hoom to bedde wente,
For verily, me thoughte it for the beste;
Prayinge thus, in al my best entente,
That alle trewe, that be with Daunger shente,
With mercy may, in reles of hir payn,       650
Recured be, er May come eft agayn.

And for that I ne may no lenger wake,
Farewel, ye lovers alle, that be trewe!
Praying to god; and thus my leve I take,
That, er the sonne to-morowe be risen newe,       655
And er he have ayein his rosen hewe,
That eche of you may have suche a grace,
His owne lady in armes to embrace.
[ 265 ]
I mene thus, that, in al honestee,
Withoute more, ye may togider speke       660
What so ye listë, at good libertee,
That eche may to other hir herte breke,
On Jelousyë only to be wreke,
That hath so longe, of malice and envye,
Werreyed Trouthe with his tirannye.       665


Princesse, plese it your benignitee
This litel dytè for to have in mynde!
Of womanhedë also for to see
Your trewe man may youre mercy finde;
And Pitè eek, that long hath be behinde,       670
Let him ayein be próvoked to grace;
For, by my trouthe, it is ayeines kinde,
Fals Daunger for to occupye his place!

Go, litel quayre, unto my lyves queen,
And my very hertes soverayne;       675
And be right glad; for she shal thee seen;
Suche is thy grace! But I, alas! in payne
Am left behinde, and not to whom to playne.
For Mercy, Routhe, Grace, and eek Pitè
Exyled be, that I may not attayne       680
Recure to finde of myn adversitè.


From Th. (Thynne, ed. 1532); collated with F. (Fairfax 16); B. (Bodley 638, imperfect); T. (Tanner 346); D. (Digby 181); S. (Arch. Selden B. 24); I have also consulted Ad. (Addit. 16165); and P. (Pepys 2006). 2. Th. reed; F. D. rede. 4. S. his (for 2nd the). 5. Th. away; F. awey. 6. Th. D. orizont; F. T. S. orisont. 7. Th. bidde al; MSS. om. al. F. T. om. lovers. 10. Th. bade. F. T. D. S. om. 2nd hem. 11. D. gladde; rest glad. All grey (or gray). 13. Th. Bade; MSS. Bad. All dispyte (dispite). 14. S. go take (rest om. go). 15. Th. syghe. 16. F. out stert. 18. Th. sicknesse; MSS. sekenes. F. S. sat; rest sate. Th. aye. Th. nye.

20. F. atte; T. at; rest at the. S. sum; rest some, summe. P. reles; D. relece; T. relese; F. relesse; Th. release. 21. F. halt; Th. halte. 22. T. S. roos; rest rose. Th. thought. 23. Th. wodde; S. wod; rest wode. Th. byrdes. 24. Th. T. D. vapoure; F. S. vapour. F. D. agoon; T. Th. agone. 25. F. morownyng; T. morownynge; Th. moronyng. 26. Th. lyke; F. lykyng (!); rest like; read lyk. 27. Th. leaues. 32. F. the (for hir). 33. Th. D. splaye; F. T. S. splay; read splayen. F. S. on; rest in. 34. Th. T. Agayne; F. Ageyn; D. Ayen. S. gold; rest golde. 35. Th. T. downe; F. dovn; D. down; S. doun. 36. Th. forthe. 37. F. berel; S. beriall; Th. byrel; T. byrell; D. birele. 39. D. S. Toward; F. Tovard; Th. T. Towarde. 40. Th. compace; MSS. compas. 41. T. myghte; S. michty (!); rest might. Th. gone; F. goon. 42. S. park; rest parke. 43. T. wente; rest went. Th. byrdes; rest briddes. S. song; rest songe. 44. Th. branches; F. T. D. braunches. Th. and (correctly); rest omit. 45. Th. sange; S. sang; P. song; F. T. D. songe. Th. woode. S. P. rong; rest ronge. 47. T. thoughte; Th. F. D. thought.

48. T. myghte; rest might. T. D. wraste; S. brest; Th. F. wrest. 49. T. breste; D. braste; Th. F. brest; S. to-brest. 51. F. T. P. tapites; Th. D. tapettes. 52. Th. F. T. -selfe (better selve). F. celured; D. coloured; S. siluered; Th. T. couered. 54. Th. beautie. F. T. may not (for may). 55. S. assaut; rest assaute. 56. Th. sphere; hotte. Th. F. T. D. shone (read shoon). 57, 59. S. wynd, kynd; rest wynde, kynde. 58. S. P. among; rest amonge. T. blossomes; D. blossoms; Th. blosomes; F. blosmes. 59. All holsom (holsum). Th. F. T. D. and so; S. om. so. 60. F. T. blomes; S. blomys; Th. blosmes; D. blossoms. 61. All gan, can; see l. 579. 62. S. that; rest om. F. their; T. theire; Th. D. there; S. thai; read hir. 63. F. D. Ayens; Th. Ayenst; T. Agayne. 64. T. S. saw; Th. F. D. sawe (!). F. ther; rest the; cf. l. 71. S. Daphin; rest Daphene; read Daphne. 65. Th. holsome; rest holsom (-sum). 68. F. phibert; Th. T. filberte; D. filberde; S. filbard. Th. F. dothe. 69. Th. S. adoun; rest doun. 70. F. I-called; rest called. 71. Th. T. D. sawe. P. hawethorn; rest hawthorn, hawthorne, hauthorne. 72. S. motle; F. motele; rest motley. (Read swoot?). Th. dothe smel. 73. All Asshe; read Ash. All oke; read ook. S. ȝong; T. fressh (!); rest yonge. S. accorne; rest acorne.

74. Th. tel. 75. S. beforn; D. before; rest beforne. Th. sawe; wel. 76. T. cours; S. courss; rest course. 77. Th. hyl; quicke streames. 78. S. P. gold; D. colde; rest golde. 78, 80. F. glas, gras; Th. glasse, grasse. 79. wel. 80. Ad. velowet. 81. Th. T. D. lustely (T. lustily) came (cam) springyng; F. lustely gan syng (!); S. lustily gan spryng. 83. Th. F. wel; T. D. welle. 85. From this point I silently correct obvious errors in spelling of Th. by collation with the MSS. Th. holsome. S. and; rest and so. 86. Th. Thorowe. S. there; rest omit. 87, 92, 94. I read lyk for lyke. 87. F. T. D. Narcius (!). 89. T. dyde; rest dyd, did. 90. S. cruell; rest omit. 95. Th. that; rest as. F. T. P. his; rest her. 101. S. perce; D. perce; Th. peerce; F. T. perysh (!) 103. Th. ouermore (!).

107. Th. F. thrust; T. thurste; P. D. thurst. 110. S. adoun; Th. F. P. downe; rest down, doun. 113-126. S. omits. 122. Th. delectable. 127. D. ynde; T. Iende; F. cende (?); Th. gende; S. of Inde. 138. S. constreynt; rest constraynyng.

147. Th. priuely me; rest me priuely. (Read busshes prively me shroude?). 151. Th. om. 2nd his. 154. For among perhaps read anon. 159. S. the; rest omit. 162. Th. therto; rest there. 168. F. P. awaped. 175. D. hem; S. thame; rest om.

179. Th. om. this. 181. So all. 184. F. delful; T. delefull; S. dulefull; D. doilfull. 187. S. quhoso; rest who. S. writen; rest write (wryte). 191. D. no knowyng haue; rest haue no knowyng. 192. S. writen; rest write (wryte). 198. F. S. as; rest om. 202. Th. disencrease; F. disencrese; T. disencrece; D. disencrees. 205. S. louyng. 206. F. hindered; S. hinderit; rest hindred.

212. F. T. deleful; S. dulfull; D. wofull. 214. S. grete; rest om. 216. S. with full; rest omit (I omit full). Compleynt; in F. only. 225. D. grownded. 227. F. S. dule; D. dooll. 230. Th. T. chyuer; F. shyuer; D. chevir; S. chill. 233. T. D. fro; S. from; Th. F. for (twice). 234. Th. T. D. yse; F. Ise; S. Iss. 239. S. distress. 241. So D. P.; S. doth his besyness; Th. euer doth his besy payne; F. euere doth besy peyn; T. euur doth his bysy hate (sic). 242. T. Agaynes; F. D. Ayens; Th. Ayenst; S. Aȝeynis. S. and to; rest om. to. 243. Th. om. wolde.

245. T. wolde; S. wold; Th. D. wol; F. will. 247. T. myghte; Th. F. might. 248. S. for; rest om. 251, 252. T. D. lette, whette; Th. F. let, whet. All despite. 253. S. Aȝeynes; T. Agaynes; F. D. Ayens; Th. Agaynst. 257. P. of wrath. 258. S. aȝeynes; T. agaynes; F. D. ayens; Th. agaynst. 260, 262. Th. tel, bel; rest telle, belle. S. rong; F. T. D. ronge; Th. range. 267, 269. S. lond, fond; rest londe, fonde. 271. Th. D. falshode; F. S. falshed; T. falsehede. 276. Th. D. be; rest ben.

277. S. sat; rest sate, satte. 281. F. non ne may; rest may non. 283. D. oth; S. soth; rest othe. 285. Th. F. T. P. clepe; D. speke; S. cleke (!). 297. T. D. fulle; Th. F. ful. 298. Th. S. one; rest oon. 299. F. more (for any). 303. Th. cal. 305. Th. fal. 306. Th. al. 307. All the name; I omit the. 308. All the blame; read ber'the.

314, 315. D. lowlyheed, speed; rest -hede, spede. 322. All Vn-to; read To. 323. F. sithe; S. sithen; rest sith. 332. Perhaps omit his. D. payn; T. peyn; rest payne (peyne). 337. S. bet; F. bette; rest better. 338. Th. F. om. 2nd his. 339. T. lady; F. ladye; rest ladyes. 346. D. perelees; F. T. S. P. pereles; Th. peerles.

347. T. liste of hym; S. can of him. 349. F. Gades; S. Gadis; rest Gaddes. 351. Th. P. om. ben. 352. S. Y-sett; D. Sette. 355. I supply he. 357. S. ȝit; rest omit. 360. S. fresch; rest omit. 363. T. dide; rest did. 368. S. eke; rest omit. 374. F. Tereus (for Theseus). 378. F. falshed; S. falshede. 379. I supply knight. 380. All eke; read also. I supply al.

382. S. and thair (for and hir); rest omit thair (= hir). 384. Th. lieges. 386. So all. 391. S. worthi knycht & hir trew; rest omit worthi and trew. I follow S.; but omit and. 393. F. T. Ipomones; Th. Ypomedes; S. P. Ypomenes; D. Ipomeus. 394. I supply was. 400. F. lovers; T. louys; rest loues. 403. S. trewe; rest trewe men. 405. Th. moost. 407. D. S. oth; rest othe. 409. F. P. S. port; rest porte. 411. S. no; rest omit. 413. Th. lytel; P. litill; D. litle; rest lyte.

414. F. nother; rest nor. 415. Th. syknesse; F. sekenesse. 419. D. Iupardy; rest in partynge (for iupartynge); read juparting; cf. l. 475. 421. F. fals (error for false); rest omit. 426. S. double (for pitous). 429. S. falss; rest om. 435. Th. F. P. bye; D. bie; T. bey; S. by. 437. Th. T. S. sene; F. seen; P. D. seyn. 438. Th. sticken; P. D. stekyn. 439. S. P. the; rest om. 447. S. ȝit; rest om.

449. I supply she. S. ysuorn; rest om. y-. 451. Th. om. have. 453. T. D. S. aboue (for of love); see l. 454. 461. S. blend (read blent); rest blynde (blinde). 462. S. as he wend (read went); Th. by wende (!); rest by wenynge (!). 464. F. T. avise; D. avice; S. aviss; Th. aduyse. 467. S. P. frend; rest frende. 468. B. begins here. I supply and. 469. T. lette; F. leteth; Th. letteth; B. D. letith; S. lattith. 471. B. F. S. he doth; Th. T. doth to. 475. Th. ieopardye; S. Iupartye; F. partie (!); B. D. T. Iupardye; P. Iupard.

488. Th. systerne. 489. S. haue schapen (for shopen). 494. F. hath; Th. haue. 501. F. B. plentevous. Th. largnesse. 508. Th. trouthe; S. treuth; rest routhe; see l. 679. 514. Th. Gyltlesse; F. Giltles; P. Gylteles.

523. F. B. P. ye (for you). 530. F. B. S. gilt; rest gylte (gilte). 533. S. aȝeynes; T. agaynes; F. B. D. ayens; Th. agaynst. 536. S. ȝow to pay; rest her to pay. 537. Th. om. eche. 538. T. D. liste; rest list. 541. All euery; read al. 543. All graunte (graunt); read graunten. 545. Th. onely sle me; MSS. slee me only. 547. S. vnto; rest om. 548. S. If (for And). 549. S. apaid; rest payd (paid). 550. For to read shal? 551. F. P. legeaunce; Th. D. ligeaunce; T. lygeaunce.

553. T. D. luste; Th. F. B. lust. S. Quherso hir list to do me lyue or deye. 555. S. hoolly; Th. holy. 560. Th. T. D. lyste; F. S. P. list. 561. S. vnto; rest to. 566. S. quhill þat me. 568. Th. mater. 571. F. B. P. hest. 573. T. liste; rest list (lust). 575. T. sike; S. to sike; Th. D. sygh; F. B. sile (!). 577. Th. no worde. 581. Th. long wisshing (!). Th. S. for; F. B. D. P. for his; T. for her. 583. S. P. gan; rest gonne (gunne).

587. S. compleynen; rest complayne. 598. T. faste; rest fast. 605. I supply here. 606. Th. dytte. 611. T. D. weste; rest west. 617. T. D. faste; rest fast. S. D. F. doun; Th. adowne; D. T. Adoun. 622. T. you; rest om.

626. S. for to; rest om. 627. MSS. welwilly; Th. wyl I (!). 636. Th. socouer (misprint). 645. S. vnto; rest to. 647. S. verily; Th. T. D. wery (!); B. very wery (!); F. werry wery (!); P. very. 650. F. B. reles; T. D. relese; Th. release; S. relesche. 656. Th. T. S. P. om. his.

659. Th. om. that. 663. Th. ialousyes; D. Ielosies; rest Ielosye. 664. T. B. P. of; rest of his. 665. S. Werreyed; D. Werried; rest Werred. 666. MSS. Princes; Th. Pryncesse. Th. pleaseth; F. pleseth; P. plesith (read plese). Th. it to your; rest om. to. 667. S. P. for; rest om. 669. Th. D. om. trewe. 673. S. for; rest om.