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The House of Fame – Middle English

BOOK I Incipit liber primus.

1 God turne us every dreem to gode!
2 For hit is wonder, be the rode,
3 To my wit, what causeth swevens
4 Either on morwes, or on evens;
5 And why the effect folweth of somme,
6 And of somme hit shal never come;
7 Why that is an avisioun,
8 And this a revelacioun,
9 Why this a dreem, why that a sweven,
10 And nat to every man liche even;
11 Why this a fantom, these oracles,
12 I noot; but who-so of these miracles
13 The causes knoweth bet than I,
14 Devyne he; for I certeinly
15 Ne can hem noght, ne never thinke
16 To besily my wit to swinke,
17 To knowe of hir signifiaunce
18 The gendres, neither the distaunce
19 Of tymes of hem, ne the causes,
20 For-why this more than that cause is;
21 As if folkes complexiouns
22 Make hem dreme of reflexiouns;
23 Or ellis thus, as other sayn,
24 For to greet feblenesse of brayn,
25 By abstinence, or by seeknesse,
26 Prison, stewe, or greet distresse;
27 Or elles by disordinaunce
28 Of naturel acustomaunce,
29 That som man is to curious
30 In studie, or melancolious,
31 Or thus, so inly ful of drede,
32 That no man may him bote bede;
33 Or elles, that devocioun
34 Of somme, and contemplacioun
35 Causeth swiche dremes ofte;
36 Or that the cruel lyf unsofte
37 Which these ilke lovers leden
38 That hopen over muche or dreden,
39 That purely hir impressiouns
40 Causeth hem avisiouns;
41 Or if that spirites have the might
42 To make folk to dreme a-night
43 Or if the soule, of propre kinde
44 Be so parfit, as men finde,
45 That hit forwot that is to come,
46 And that hit warneth alle and somme
47 Of everiche of hir aventures
48 Be avisiouns, or by figures,
49 But that our flesh ne hath no might
50 To understonden hit aright,
51 For hit is warned to derkly; —
52 But why the cause is, noght wot I.
53 Wel worthe, of this thing, grete clerkes,
54 That trete of this and other werkes;
55 For I of noon opinioun
56 Nil as now make mensioun,
57 But only that the holy rode
58 Turne us every dreem to gode!
59 For never, sith that I was born,
60 Ne no man elles, me biforn,
61 Mette, I trowe stedfastly,
62 So wonderful a dreem as I
63 The tenthe day dide of Decembre,
64 The which, as I can now remembre,
65 I wol yow tellen every del,

The Invocation

66 But at my ginninge, trusteth wel,
67 I wol make invocacioun,
68 With special devocioun,
69 Unto the god of slepe anoon,
70 That dwelleth in a cave of stoon
71 Upon a streem that cometh fro Lete,
72 That is a flood of helle unswete;
73 Besyde a folk men clepe Cimerie,
74 Ther slepeth ay this god unmerie
75 With his slepy thousand sones
76 That alway for to slepe hir wone is —
77 And to this god, that I of rede,
78 Prey I, that he wol me spede
79 My sweven for to telle aright,
80 If every dreem stonde in his might.
81 And he, that mover is of al
82 That is and was, and ever shal,
83 So yive hem Ioye that hit here
84 Of alle that they dreme to-yere,
85 And for to stonden alle in grace
86 Of hir loves, or in what place
87 That hem wer levest for to stonde,
88 And shelde hem fro poverte and shonde,
89 And fro unhappe and eche disese,
90 And sende hem al that may hem plese,
91 That take hit wel, and scorne hit noght,
92 Ne hit misdemen in her thoght
93 Through malicious entencioun.
94 And who-so, through presumpcioun,
95 Or hate or scorne, or through envye,
96 Dispyt, or Iape, or vilanye,
97 Misdeme hit, preye I Iesus god
98 That (dreme he barfoot, dreme he shod),
99 That every harm that any man
100 Hath had, sith that the world began,
101 Befalle him therof, or he sterve,
102 And graunte he mote hit ful deserve,
103 Lo! with swich a conclusioun
104 As had of his avisioun
105 Cresus, that was king of Lyde,
106 That high upon a gebet dyde!
107 This prayer shal he have of me;
108 I am no bet in charite!
109 Now herkneth, as I have you seyd,
110 What that I mette or I abreyd.

The Dream

111 Of Decembre the tenthe day,
112 Whan hit was night, to slepe I lay
113 Right ther as I was wont to done,
114 And fil on slepe wonder sone,
115 As he that wery was for-go
116 On pilgrimage myles two
117 To the corseynt Leonard,
118 To make lythe of that was hard.
119 But as I sleep, me mette I was
120 Within a temple y-mad of glas;
121 In whiche ther were mo images
122 Of gold, stondinge in sondry stages,
123 And mo riche tabernacles,
124 And with perre mo pinacles,
125 And mo curious portreytures,
126 And queynte maner of figures
127 Of olde werke, then I saw ever.
128 For certeynly, I niste never
129 Wher that I was, but wel wiste I,
130 Hit was of Venus redely,
131 The temple; for, in portreyture,
132 I sawgh anoon-right hir figure
133 Naked fletinge in a see.
134 And also on hir heed, parde,
135 Hir rose-garlond whyt and reed,
136 And hir comb to kembe hir heed,
137 Hir dowves, and daun Cupido
138 Hir blinde sone, and Vulcano,
139 That in his face was ful broun.
140 But as I romed up and doun,
141 I fond that on a wal ther was
142 Thus writen, on a table of bras:
143 ‘I wol now singe, if that I can,
144 The armes, and al-so the man,
145 That first cam, through his destinee,
146 Fugitif of Troye contree,
147 In Itaile, with ful moche pyne,
148 Unto the strondes of Lavyne.’
149 And tho began the story anoon,
150 As I shal telle yow echoon.
151 First saw I the destruccioun
152 Of Troye, through the Greek Sinoun,
153 That with his false forsweringe,
154 And his chere and his lesinge
155 Made the hors broght into Troye,
156 Thorgh which Troyens loste al hir Ioye.
157 And after this was grave, allas!
158 How Ilioun assailed was
159 And wonne, and King Priam y-slayn,
160 And Polites his sone, certayn,
161 Dispitously, of dan Pirrus.
162 And next that saw I how Venus,
163 Whan that she saw the castel brende,
164 Doun fro the hevene gan descende,
165 And bad hir sone Eneas flee;
166 And how he fledde, and how that he
167 Escaped was from al the pres,
168 And took his fader, Anchises,
169 And bar him on his bakke away,
170 Cryinge, ‘Allas, and welaway!’
171 The whiche Anchises in his honde
172 Bar the goddes of the londe,
173 Thilke that unbrende were.
174 And I saw next, in alle this fere,
175 How Creusa, daun Eneas wyf,
176 Which that he lovede as his lyf,
177 And hir yonge sone Iulo,
178 And eek Ascanius also,
179 Fledden eek with drery chere,
180 That hit was pitee for to here;
181 And in a forest, as they wente,
182 At a turninge of a wente,
183 How Creusa was y-lost, allas!
184 That deed, but noot I how, she was;
185 How he hir soughte, and how hir gost
186 Bad him to flee the Grekes ost,
187 And seyde he most unto Itaile,
188 As was his destinee, sauns faille;
189 That hit was pitee for to here,
190 Whan hir spirit gan appere,
191 The wordes that she to him seyde,
192 And for to kepe hir sone him preyde.
193 Ther saw I graven eek how he,
194 His fader eek, and his meynee,
195 With his shippes gan to sayle
196 Toward the contree of Itaile,
197 As streight as that they mighte go.
198 Ther saw I thee, cruel Iuno,
199 That art daun Iupiteres wyf,
200 That hast y-hated, al thy lyf,
201 Al the Troyanisshe blood,
202 Renne and crye, as thou were wood,
203 On Eolus, the god of windes,
204 To blowen out, of alle kindes,
205 So loude, that he shulde drenche
206 Lord and lady, grome and wenche,
207 Of al the Troyan nacioun,
208 Withoute any savacioun.
209 Ther saw I swich tempeste aryse,
210 That every herte mighte agryse,
211 To see hit peynted on the walle.
212 Ther saw I graven eek withalle,
213 Venus, how ye, my lady dere,
214 Wepinge with ful woful chere,
215 Prayen Iupiter an hye
216 To save and kepe that navye
217 Of the Troyan Eneas,
218 Sith that he hir sone was.
219 Ther saw I Ioves Venus kisse,
220 And graunted of the tempest lisse.
221 Ther saw I how the tempest stente,
222 And how with alle pyne he wente,
223 And prevely took arrivage
224 In the contree of Cartage;
225 And on the morwe, how that he
226 And a knight, hight Achatee,
227 Metten with Venus that day,
228 Goinge in a queynt array,
229 As she had ben an hunteresse,
230 With wind blowinge upon hir tresse;
231 How Eneas gan him to pleyne,
232 Whan that he knew hir, of his peyne;
233 And how his shippes dreynte were,
234 Or elles lost, he niste where;
235 How she gan him comforte tho,
236 And bad him to Cartage go,
237 And ther he shulde his folk finde
238 That in the see were left behinde.
239 And, shortly of this thing to pace,
240 She made Eneas so in grace
241 Of Dido, quene of that contree,
242 That, shortly for to tellen, she
243 Becam his love, and leet him do
244 That that wedding longeth to.
245 What shulde I speke more queynte,
246 Or peyne me my wordes peynte,
247 To speke of love? hit wol not be;
248 I can not of that facultee.
249 And eek to telle the manere
250 How they aqueynteden in-fere,
251 Hit were a long proces to telle,
252 And over long for yow to dwelle.
253 Ther sawgh I grave how Eneas
254 Tolde Dido every cas,
255 That him was tid upon the see.
256 And after grave was, how shee
257 Made of him, shortly, at oo word,
258 Hir lyf, hir love, hir luste, hir lord;
259 And dide him al the reverence,
260 And leyde on him al the dispence,
261 That any woman mighte do,
262 Weninge hit had al be so,
263 As he hir swoor; and her-by demed
264 That he was good, for he swich semed.
265 Allas! what harm doth apparence,
266 Whan hit is fals in existence!
267 For he to hir a traitour was;
268 Wherfor she slow hir-self, allas!
269 Lo, how a woman doth amis,
270 To love him that unknowen is!
271 For, by Crist, lo! thus hit fareth;
272 ‘Hit is not al gold, that glareth.’
273 For, al-so brouke I wel myn heed,
274 Ther may be under goodliheed
275 Kevered many a shrewed vyce;
276 Therfor be no wight so nyce,
277 To take a love only for chere,
278 For speche, or for frendly manere;
279 For this shal every woman finde
280 That som man, of his pure kinde,
281 Wol shewen outward the faireste,
282 Til he have caught that what him leste;
283 And thanne wol he causes finde,
284 And swere how that she is unkinde,
285 Or fals, or prevy, or double was.
286 Al this seye I by Eneas
287 And Dido, and hir nyce lest,
288 That lovede al to sone a gest;
289 Therfor I wol seye a proverbe,
290 That ‘he that fully knoweth therbe
291 May saufly leye hit to his ye’;
292 Withoute dreed, this is no lye.
293 But let us speke of Eneas,
294 How he betrayed hir, allas!
295 And lefte hir ful unkindely.
296 So whan she saw al-utterly,
297 That he wolde hir of trouthe faile,
298 And wende fro hir to Itaile,
299 She gan to wringe hir hondes two.
300 ‘Allas!’ quod she, ‘what me is wo!
301 Allas! is every man thus trewe,
302 That every yere wolde have a newe,
303 If hit so longe tyme dure,
304 Or elles three, peraventure?
305 As thus: of oon he wolde have fame
306 In magnifying of his name;
307 Another for frendship, seith he;
308 And yet ther shal the thridde be,
309 That shal be taken for delyt,
310 Lo, or for singular profyt.’
311 In swiche wordes gan to pleyne
312 Dido of hir grete peyne,
313 As me mette redely;
314 Non other auctour alegge I.
315 ‘Allas!’ quod she, ‘my swete herte,
316 Have pitee on my sorwes smerte,
317 And slee me not! go noght away!
318 O woful Dido, wel away!’
319 Quod she to hir-selve tho.
320 ‘O Eneas! what wil ye do?
321 O that your love, ne your bonde,
322 That ye han sworn with your right honde,
323 Ne my cruel deeth,’ quod she,
324 “May holde yow still heer with me!
325 O, haveth of my deeth pitee!
326 Y-wis, my dere herte, ye
327 Knowen ful wel that never yit,
328 As fer-forth as I hadde wit,
329 Agilte I yow in thoght ne deed.
330 0, have ye men swich goodliheed
331 In speche, and never a deel of trouthe?
332 Allas, that ever hadde routhe
333 Any woman on any man!
334 Now see I wel, and telle can,
335 We wrecched wimmen conne non art;
336 For certeyn, for the more part,
337 Thus we be served everichone.
338 How sore that ye men conne grone,
339 Anoon as we have yow receyved!
340 Certeinly we ben deceyved;
341 For, though your love laste a sesoun,
342 Wayte upon the conclusioun,
343 And eek how that ye determynen,
344 And for the more part diffynen.
345 ‘O, welawey that I was born!
346 For through yow is my name lorn,
347 And alle myn actes red and songe
348 Over al this lond, on every tonge.
349 O wikke Fame! for ther nis
350 Nothing so swift, lo, as she is!
351 O, sooth is, every thing is wist,
352 Though hit be kevered with the mist.
353 Eek, thogh I mighte duren ever,
354 That I have doon, rekever I never,
355 That I ne shal be seyd, allas,
356 Y-shamed be through Eneas,
357 And that I shal thus Iuged be —
358 ‘Lo, right as she hath doon, now she
359 Wol do eftsones, hardily;’
360 Thus seyth the peple prevely.’ —
361 But that is doon, nis not to done;
362 Al hir compleynt ne al hir mone,
363 Certeyn, availeth hir not a stre.
364 And when she wiste sothly he
365 Was forth unto his shippes goon,
366 She in hir chambre wente anoon,
367 And called on hir suster Anne,
368 And gan hir to compleyne thanne;
369 And seyde, that she cause was
370 That she first lovede Eneas,
371 And thus counseilled hir therto.
372 But what! when this was seyd and do,
373 She roof hir-selve to the herte,
374 And deyde through the wounde smerte.
375 But al the maner how she deyde,
376 And al the wordes that she seyde,
377 Who-so to knowe hit hath purpos,
378 Reed Virgile in Eneidos
379 Or the Epistle of Ovyde,
380 What that she wroot or that she dyde;
381 And nere hit to long to endyte,
382 By god, I wolde hit here wryte.
383 But, welaway! the harm, the routhe,
384 That hath betid for swich untrouthe,
385 As men may ofte in bokes rede,
386 And al day seen hit yet in dede,
387 That for to thenken hit, a tene is.
388 Lo, Demophon, duk of Athenis,
389 How he forswor him ful falsly,
390 And trayed Phillis wikkedly,
391 That kinges doghter was of Trace,
392 And falsly gan his terme pace;
393 And when she wiste that he was fals,
394 She heng hir-self right by the hals,
395 For he had do hir swich untrouthe;
396 Lo! was not this a wo and routhe?
397 Eek lo! how fals and reccheles
398 Was to Breseida Achilles,
399 And Paris to Enone;
400 And Iason to Isiphile;
401 And eft Iason to Medea;
402 And Ercules to Dyanira;
403 For he left hir for Iole,
404 That made him cacche his deeth, parde.
405 How fals eek was he, Theseus;
406 That, as the story telleth us,
407 How he betrayed Adriane;
408 The devel be his soules bane!
409 For had he laughed, had he loured,
410 He moste have be al devoured,
411 If Adriane ne had y-be!
412 And, for she had of him pitee,
413 She made him fro the dethe escape,
414 And he made hir a ful fals Iape;
415 For aftir this, within a whyle
416 He lefte hir slepinge in an yle,
417 Deserte alone, right in the see,
418 And stal away, and leet hir be;
419 And took hir suster Phedra tho
420 With him, and gan to shippe go.
421 And yet he had y-sworn to here,
422 On al that ever he mighte swere,
423 That, so she saved him his lyf,
424 He wolde have take hir to his wyf;
425 For she desired nothing elles,
426 In certein, as the book us telles.
427 But to excusen Eneas
428 Fulliche of al his greet trespas,
429 The book seyth, Mercurie, sauns faile,
430 Bad him go into Itaile,
431 And leve Auffrykes regioun,
432 And Dido and hir faire toun.
433 Tho saw I grave, how to Itaile
434 Daun Eneas is go to saile;
435 And how the tempest al began,
436 And how he loste his steresman,
437 Which that the stere, or he took keep,
438 Smot over-bord, lo! as he sleep.
439 And also saw I how Sibyle
440 And Eneas, besyde an yle,
441 To helle wente, for to see
442 His fader, Anchises the free.
443 How he ther fond Palinurus,
444 And Dido, and eek Deiphebus;
445 And every tourment eek in helle
446 Saw he, which is long to telle.
447 Which who-so willeth for to knowe,
448 He most rede many a rowe
449 On Virgile or on Claudian,
450 Or Daunte, that hit telle can.
451 Tho saw I grave al tharivaile
452 That Eneas had in Itaile;
453 And with King Latine his tretee,
454 And alle the batailles that he
455 Was at him-self, and eek his knightes,
456 Or he had al y-wonne his rightes;
457 And how he Turnus refte his lyf,
458 And wan Lavyna to his wyf;
459 And al the mervelous signals
460 Of the goddes celestials;
461 How, maugre Iuno, Eneas,
462 For al hir sleighte and hir compas,
463 Acheved al his aventure;
464 For Iupiter took of him cure
465 At the prayere of Venus;
466 The whiche I preye alwey save us,
467 And us ay of our sorwes lighte!
468 Whan I had seyen al this sighte
469 In this noble temple thus,
470 ‘A, Lord!’ thoughte I, ‘that madest us,
471 Yet saw I never swich noblesse
472 Of images, ne swich richesse,
473 As I saw graven in this chirche;
474 But not woot I who dide hem wirche,
475 Ne wher I am, ne in what contree.
476 But now wol I go out and see,
477 Right at the wiket, if I can
478 See o-wher stering any man,
479 That may me telle wher I am.’
480 When I out at the dores cam,
481 I faste aboute me beheld.
482 Then saw I but a large feld,
483 As fer as that I mighte see,
484 Withouten toun, or hous, or tree,
485 Or bush, or gras, or ered lond;
486 For al the feld nas but of sond
487 As smal as man may see yet lye
488 In the desert of Libye;
489 Ne I to maner creature,
490 That is y-formed by nature,
491 Ne saw, me for to rede or wisse.
492 ‘O Crist,’ thoughte I, ‘that art in blisse,
493 Fro fantom and illusioun
494 Me save!’ and with devocioun
495 Myn yen to the heven I caste.
496 Tho was I war, lo! at the laste,
497 That faste be the sonne, as hye
498 As kenne mighte I with myn ye,
499 Me thoughte I saw an egle sore,
500 But that hit semed moche more
501 Then I had any egle seyn.
502 But this as sooth as deeth, certeyn,
503 Hit was of golde, and shoon so bright,
504 That never saw men such a sighte,
505 But-if the heven hadde y-wonne
506 Al newe of golde another sonne;
507 So shoon the egles fethres brighte,
508 And somwhat dounward gan hit lighte.

Explicit liber primus.

Book II Incipit liber secundus.

Proem.

509 Now herkneth, every maner man
510 That English understonde can,
511 And listeth of my dreem to lere;
512 For now at erste shul ye here
513 So selly an avisioun,
514 That Isaye, ne Scipioun,
515 Ne King Nabugodonosor,
516 Pharo, Turnus, ne Elcanor,
517 Ne mette swich a dreem as this!
518 Now faire blisfull, O Cipris,
519 So be my favour at this tyme!
520 And ye, me to endyte and ryme
521 Helpeth, that on Parnaso dwelle
522 By Elicon the clere welle.
523 O Thought, that wroot al that I mette,
524 And in the tresorie hit shette
525 Of my brayn! now shal men see
526 If any vertu in thee be,
527 To tellen al my dreem aright;
528 Now kythe thyn engyne and might!

The Dream.

529 This egle, of which I have yow told,
530 That shoon with fethres as of gold,
531 Which that so hye gan to sore,
532 I gan beholde more and more,
533 To see hir the beautee and the wonder;
534 But never was ther dint of thonder,
535 Ne that thing that men calle foudre,
536 That smoot somtyme a tour to poudre,
537 And in his swifte coming brende,
538 That so swythe gan descende,
539 As this foul, whan hit behelde
540 That I a-roume was in the felde;
541 And with his grimme pawes stronge,
542 Within his sharpe nayles longe,
543 Me, fleinge, at a swappe he hente,
544 And with his sours agayn up wente,
545 Me caryinge in his clawes starke
546 As lightly as I were a larke,
547 How high I can not telle yow,
548 For I cam up, I niste how.
549 For so astonied and a-sweved
550 Was every vertu in my heved,
551 What with his sours and with my drede,
552 That al my feling gan to dede;
553 For-why hit was to greet affray.
554 Thus I longe in his clawes lay,
555 Til at the laste he to me spak
556 In mannes vois, and seyde, ‘Awak!
557 And be not so a-gast, for shame!’
558 And called me tho by my name,
559 And, for I sholde the bet abreyde —
560 Me mette — ‘Awak,’ to me he seyde,
561 Right in the same vois and stevene
562 That useth oon I coude nevene;
563 And with that vois, soth for to sayn,
564 My minde cam to me agayn;
565 For hit was goodly seyd to me,
566 So nas hit never wont to be.
567 And herewithal I gan to stere,
568 And he me in his feet to bere,
569 Til that he felte that I had hete,
570 And felte eek tho myn herte bete.
571 And tho gan he me to disporte,
572 And with wordes to comforte,
573 And sayde twyes, ‘Seynte Marie!
574 Thou art noyous for to carie,
575 And nothing nedeth hit, parde!
576 For al-so wis god helpe me
577 As thou non harm shalt have of this;
578 And this cas, that betid thee is,
579 Is for thy lore and for thy prow; —
580 Let see! darst thou yet loke now?
581 Be ful assured, boldely,
582 I am thy frend.’ And therwith I
583 Gan for to wondren in my minde.
584 ‘O god,’ thoughte I, ‘that madest kinde,
585 Shal I non other weyes dye?
586 Wher Ioves wol me stellifye,
587 Or what thing may this signifye?
588 I neither am Enok, ne Elye,
589 Ne Romulus, ne Ganymede
590 That was y-bore up, as men rede,
591 To hevene with dan Iupiter,
592 And maad the goddes boteler.’
593 Lo! this was tho my fantasye!
594 But he that bar me gan espye
595 That I so thoghte, and seyde this: —
596 ‘Thou demest of thy-self amis;
597 For Ioves is not ther-aboute —
598 I dar wel putte thee out of doute —
599 To make of thee as yet a sterre.
600 But er I bere thee moche ferre,
601 I wol thee telle what I am,
602 And whider thou shalt, and why I cam
603 To done this, so that thou take
604 Good herte, and not for fere quake.’
605 ‘Gladly,’ quod I. — ‘Now wel,’ quod he: —
606 ‘First I, that in my feet have thee,
607 Of which thou hast a feer and wonder,
608 Am dwellinge with the god of thonder,
609 Which that men callen Iupiter,
610 That dooth me flee ful ofte fer
611 To do al his comaundement.
612 And for this cause he hath me sent
613 To thee: now herke, by thy trouthe!
614 Certeyn, he hath of thee routhe,
615 That thou so longe trewely
616 Hast served so ententifly
617 His blinde nevew Cupido,
618 And fair Venus goddesse also,
619 Withoute guerdoun ever yit,
620 And nevertheles has set thy wit —
621 Although that in thy hede ful lyte is —
622 To make bokes, songes, dytees,
623 In ryme, or elles in cadence,
624 As thou best canst, in reverence
625 Of Love, and of his servants eke,
626 That have his servise soght, and seke;
627 And peynest thee to preyse his art,
628 Althogh thou haddest never part;
629 Wherfor, al-so god me blesse,
630 Ioves halt hit greet humblesse
631 And vertu eek, that thou wolt make
632 A-night ful ofte thyn heed to ake,
633 In thy studie so thou wrytest,
634 And ever-mo of love endytest,
635 In honour of him and preysinges,
636 And in his foIkes furtheringes,
637 And in hir matere al devysest,
638 And noght him nor his folk despysest,
639 Although thou mayst go in the daunce
640 Of hem that him list not avaunce.
641 ‘Wherfor, as I seyde, y-wis,
642 Iupiter considereth this,
643 And also, beau sir, other thinges;
644 That is, that thou hast no tydinges
645 Of Loves folk, if they be glade,
646 Ne of noght elles that god made;
647 And noght only fro fer contree
648 That ther no tyding comth to thee,
649 But of thy verray neyghebores,
650 That dwellen almost at thy dores,
651 Thou herest neither that ne this;
652 For whan thy labour doon al is,
653 And hast y-maad thy rekeninges,
654 In stede of reste and newe thinges,
655 Thou gost hoom to thy hous anoon;
656 And, also domb as any stoon,
657 Thou sittest at another boke,
658 Til fully daswed is thy loke,
659 And livest thus as an hermyte,
660 Although thyn abstinence is lyte.
661 ‘And therfor Ioves, through his grace,
662 Wol that I bere thee to a place,
663 Which that hight THE HOUS OF FAME,
664 To do thee som disport and game,
665 In som recompensacioun
666 Of labour and devocioun
667 That thou has had, lo! causeles,
668 To Cupido, the reccheles!
669 And thus this god, thorgh his meryte,
670 Wol with som maner thing thee quyte,
671 So that thou wolt be of good chere.
672 For truste wel, that thou shalt here,
673 When we be comen ther I seye,
674 Mo wonder thinges, dar I leye:
675 Of Loves folke mo tydinges,
676 Both soth-sawes and lesinges;
677 And mo loves newe begonne,
678 And longe y-served loves wonne,
679 And mo loves casuelly
680 That been betid, no man wot why,
681 But as a blind man stert an hare;
682 And more Iolytee and fare,
683 Whyl that they finde love of stele,
684 As thinketh hem, and over-al wele;
685 Mo discords, mo Ielousyes,
686 Mo murmurs, and mo novelryes,
687 And mo dissimulaciouns;
688 And feyned reparaciouns;
689 And mo berdes in two houres
690 Withoute rasour or sisoures
691 Y-maad, then greynes be of sondes;
692 And eke mo holdinge in hondes,
693 And also mo renovelaunces
694 Of olde forleten aqueyntaunces;
695 Mo love-dayes and acordes
696 Then on instruments ben cordes;
697 And eke of loves mo eschaunges
698 Than ever cornes were in graunges;
699 Unnethe maistow trowen this?’ —
700 Quod he. ‘No, helpe me god so wis!’ —
701 Quod I. ‘No? why?’ quod he. ‘For hit
702 Were impossible, to my wit,
703 Though that Fame hadde al the pyes
704 In al a realme, and al the spyes,
705 How that yet she shulde here al this,
706 Or they espye hit.’ ‘O yis, yis!’
707 Quod he to me, ‘that can I preve
708 By resoun, worthy for to leve,
709 So that thou yeve thyn advertence
710 To understonde my sentence.
711 ‘First shalt thou heren wher she dwelleth,
712 And so thyn owne book hit telleth;
713 Hir paleys stant, as I shal seye,
714 Right even in middes of the weye
715 Betwixen hevene, erthe, and see;
716 That, what-so-ever in al these three
717 Is spoken, in privee or aperte,
718 The way therto is so overte,
719 And stant eek in so Iuste a place,
720 That every soun mot to hit pace,
721 Or what so comth fro any tonge,
722 Be hit rouned, red, or songe,
723 Or spoke in seurtee or in drede,
724 Certein, hit moste thider nede.
725 ‘Now herkne wel; for-why I wille
726 Tellen thee a propre skile,
727 And worthy demonstracioun
728 In myn imagynacioun.
729 ‘Geffrey, thou wost right wel this,
730 That every kindly thing that is,
731 Hath a kindly stede ther he
732 May best in hit conserved be;
733 Unto which place every thing,
734 Through his kindly enclyning,
735 Moveth for to come to,
736 Whan that hit is awey therfro;
737 As thus; lo, thou mayst al day see
738 That any thing that hevy be,
739 As stoon or leed, or thing of wighte,
740 And ber hit never so hye on highte,
741 Lat goo thyn hand, hit falleth doun.
742 ‘Right so seye I by fyre or soun,
743 Or smoke, or other thinges lighte,
744 Alwey they seke upward on highte;
745 Whyl ech of hem is at his large,
746 Light thing up, and dounward charge.
747 ‘And for this cause mayst thou see,
748 That every river to the see
749 Enclyned is to go, by kinde.
750 And by these skilles, as I finde,
751 Hath fish dwellinge in floode and see,
752 And trees eek in erthe be.
753 Thus every thing, by this resoun,
754 Hath his propre mansioun,
755 To which hit seketh to repaire,
756 As ther hit shulde not apaire.
757 Lo, this sentence is knowen couthe
758 Of every philosophres mouthe,
759 As Aristotle and dan Platon,
760 And other clerkes many oon;
761 And to confirme my resoun,
762 Thou wost wel this, that speche is soun,
763 Or elles no man mighte hit here;
764 Now herkne what I wol thee lere.
765 ‘Soun is noght but air y-broken,
766 And every speche that is spoken,
767 Loud or privee, foul or fair,
768 In his substaunce is but air;
769 For as flaumbe is but lighted smoke,
770 Right so soun is air y-broke.
771 But this may be in many wyse,
772 Of which I wil thee two devise,
773 As soun that comth of pype or harpe.
774 For whan a pype is blowen sharpe,
775 The air is twist with violence,
776 And rent; lo, this is my sentence;
777 Eke, whan men harpe-stringes smyte,
778 Whether hit be moche or lyte,
779 Lo, with the strook the air to-breketh;
780 Right so hit breketh whan men speketh.
781 Thus wost thou wel what thing is speche.
782 ‘Now hennesforth I wol thee teche,
783 How every speche, or noise, or soun,
784 Through his multiplicacioun,
785 Thogh hit were pyped of a mouse,
786 Moot nede come to Fames House.
787 I preve hit thus — tak hede now —
788 Be experience; for if that thou
789 Throwe on water now a stoon,
790 Wel wost thou, hit wol make anoon
791 A litel roundel as a cercle,
792 Paraventer brood as a covercle;
793 And right anoon thou shalt see weel,
794 That wheel wol cause another wheel,
795 And that the thridde, and so forth, brother,
796 Every cercle causinge other,
797 Wyder than himselve was;
798 And thus, fro roundel to compas,
799 Ech aboute other goinge,
800 Caused of othres steringe,
801 And multiplying ever-mo,
802 Til that hit be so fer ygoo
803 That hit at bothe brinkes be.
804 Al-thogh thou mowe hit not y-see,
805 Above, hit goth yet alway under,
806 Although thou thenke hit a gret wonder.
807 And who-so seith of trouthe I varie,
808 Bid him proven the contrarie.
809 And right thus every word, y-wis,
810 That loude or privee spoken is,
811 Moveth first an air aboute,
812 And of this moving, out of doute,
813 Another air anoon is meved,
814 As I have of the water preved,
815 That every cercle causeth other.
816 Right so of air, my leve brother;
817 Everich air in other stereth
818 More and more, and speche up bereth,
819 Or vois, or noise, or word, or soun,
820 Ay through multiplicacioun,
821 Til hit be atte House of Fame; —
822 Tak hit in ernest or in game.
823 ‘Now have I told, if thou have minde,
824 How speche or soun, of pure kinde,
825 Enclyned is upward to meve;
826 This, mayst thou fele, wel I preve.
827 And that the mansioun, y-wis,
828 That every thing enclyned to is,
829 Hath his kindeliche stede:
830 That sheweth hit, withouten drede,
831 That kindely the mansioun
832 Of every speche, of every soun,
833 Be hit either foul or fair,
834 Hath his kinde place in air.
835 And sin that every thing, that is
836 Out of his kinde place, y-wis,
837 Moveth thider for to go
838 If hit a-weye be therfro,
839 As I before have preved thee,
840 Hit seweth, every soun, pardee,
841 Moveth kindeIy to pace
842 Al up into his kindely place.
843 And this place of which I telle,
844 Ther as Fame list to dwelle,
845 Is set amiddes of these three,
846 Heven, erthe, and eek the see,
847 As most conservatif the soun.
848 Than is this the conclusioun,
849 That every speche of every man,
850 As I thee telle first began,
851 Moveth up on high to pace
852 Kindely to Fames place.
853 ‘Telle me this feithfully,
854 Have I not preved thus simply,
855 Withouten any subtiltee
856 Of speche, or gret prolixitee
857 Of termes of philosophye,
858 Of figures of poetrye,
859 Or colours of rethoryke?
860 Pardee, hit oghte thee to lyke;
861 For hard langage and hard matere
862 Is encombrous for to here
863 At ones; Wost thou not wel this?’
864 And I answerde, and seyde,’Yis.’
865 ‘A ha!’ quod he, ‘lo, so I can,
866 Lewedly to a lewed man
867 Speke, and shewe him swiche skiles,
868 That he may shake hem by the biles,
869 So palpable they shulden be.
870 But tel me this, now pray I thee,
871 How thinkth thee my conclusioun?’
872 Quod he. ‘A good persuasioun,’
873 Quod I, ‘hit is; and lyk to be
874 Right so as thou hast preved me.’
875 ‘By god,’ quod he, ‘and as I leve,
876 Thou shalt have yit, or hit be eve,
877 Of every word of this sentence
878 A preve, by experience;
879 And with thyn eres heren wel
880 Top and tail, and everydel,
881 That every word that spoken is
882 Comth into Fames Hous, y-wis,
883 As I have seyd; what wilt thou more?’
884 And with this word upper to sore
885 He gan, and seyde, ‘Be Seynt Iame!
886 Now wil we speken al of game.’ —
887 ‘How farest thou?’ quod he to me,
888 ‘Wel,’ quod I. ‘Now see,’ quod he,
889 ‘By thy trouthe, yond adoun,
890 Wher that thou knowest any toun,
891 Or hous, or any other thing.
892 And whan thou hast of ought knowing,
893 Loke that thou warne me,
894 And I anoon shal telle thee
895 How fer that thou art now therfro.’
896 And I adoun gan loken tho,
897 And beheld feldes and plaines,
898 And now hilles, and now mountaines,
899 Now valeys, and now forestes,
900 And now, unethes, grete bestes;
901 Now riveres, now citees,
902 Now tounes, and now grete trees,
903 Now shippes saillinge in the see.
904 But thus sone in a whyle he
905 Was flowen fro the grounde so hye,
906 That al the world, as to myn ye,
907 No more semed than a prikke;
908 Or elles was the air so thikke
909 That I ne mighte not discerne.
910 With that he spak to me as yerne,
911 And seyde: ‘Seestow any toun
912 Or ought thou knowest yonder doun?’
913 I seyde, ‘Nay.’ ‘No wonder nis,’
914 Quod he, ‘for half so high as this
915 Nas Alexander Macedo;
916 Ne the king, dan Scipio.
917 That saw in dreme, at point devys,
918 Helle and erthe, and paradys;
919 Ne eek the wrecche Dedalus,
920 Ne his child, nyce Icarus,
921 That fleigh so highe that the hete
922 His winges malt, and he fel wete
923 In-mid the see, and ther he dreynte,
924 For whom was maked moch compleynte.
925 ‘Now turn upward,’ quod he, ‘thy face,
926 And behold this large place,
927 This air; but loke thou ne be
928 Adrad of hem that thou shalt see;
929 For in this regioun, certein,
930 Dwelleth many a citezein,
931 Of which that speketh dan Plato.
932 These ben the eyrish bestes, lo!’
933 And so saw I al that meynee
934 Bothe goon and also flee.
935 ‘Now,’ quod he tho, ‘cast up thyn ye;
936 See yonder, lo, the Galaxye,
937 Which men clepeth the Milky Wey,
938 For hit is whyt: and somme, parfey,
939 Callen hit Watlinge Strete:
940 That ones was y-brent with hete,
941 Whan the sonnes sone, the rede,
942 That highte Pheton, wolde lede
943 Algate his fader cart, and gye.
944 The cart-hors gonne wel espye
945 That he ne coude no governaunce,
946 And gonne for to lepe and launce,
947 And beren him now up, now doun,
948 Til that he saw the Scorpioun,
949 Which that in heven a signe is yit,
950 And he, for ferde, loste his wit,
951 Of that, and leet the reynes goon
952 Of his hors; and they anoon
953 Gonne up to mounte, and doun descende
954 Til bothe the eyr and erthe brende;
955 Til Iupiter, lo, atte laste,
956 Him slow, and fro the carte caste.
957 Lo, is it not a greet mischaunce,
958 To lete a fole han governaunce
959 Of thing that he can not demeine?’
960 And with this word, soth for to seyne,
961 He gan alway upper to sore,
962 And gladded me ay more and more,
963 So feithfully to me spak he.
964 Tho gan I loken under me,
965 And beheld the eyrish bestes,
966 Cloudes, mistes, and tempestes,
967 Snowes, hailes, reines, windes,
968 And thengendring in hir kindes,
969 And al the wey through whiche I cam;
970 ‘O god,’ quod I, ‘that made Adam,
971 Moche is thy might and thy noblesse!’
972 And tho thoughte I upon Boece,
973 That writ, ‘a thought may flee so hye,
974 With fetheres of Philosophye,
975 To passen everich element;
976 And whan he hath so fer y-went,
977 Than may be seen, behind his bak,
978 Cloud, and al that I of spak.’
979 Tho gan I wexen in a were,
980 And seyde, ‘I woot wel I am here;
981 But wher in body or in gost
982 I noot, y-wis; but god, thou wost!’
983 For more cleer entendement
984 Nadde he me never yit y-sent.
985 And than thoughte I on Marcian,
986 And eek on Anleclaudian,
987 That sooth was hir descripcioun
988 Of al the hevenes regioun,
989 As fer as that I saw the preve;
990 Therfor I can hem now beleve.
991 With that this egle gan to crye:
992 ‘Lat be,’ quod he, ‘thy fantasye;
993 Wilt thou lere of sterres aught?’
994 ‘Nay, certeinly,’ quod I, ‘right naught;
995 ‘And why? for I am now to old.’
996 ‘Elles I wolde thee have told,’
997 Quod he, ‘the sterres names, lo,
998 And al the hevenes signes to,
999 And which they been.’ ‘No fors,’ quod I.
1000 ‘Yis, pardee,’ quod he; ‘wostow why?
1001 For when thou redest poetrye,
1002 How goddes gonne stellifye
1003 Brid, fish, beste, or him or here,
1004 As the Raven, or either Bere,
1005 Or Ariones harpe fyn,
1006 Castor, Pollux, or Delphyn,
1007 Or Atlantes doughtres sevene,
1008 How alle these arn set in hevene;
1009 For though thou have hem ofte on honde,
1010 Yet nostow not wher that they stonde.’
1011 ‘No fors,’ quod I, ‘hit is no nede;
1012 I leve as wel, so god me spede,
1013 Hem that wryte of this matere,
1014 As though I knew hir places here;
1015 And eek they shynen here so brighte,
1016 Hit shulde shenden al my sighte
1017 To loke on hem.’ ‘That may wel be,’
1018 Quod he. And so forth bar he me
1019 A whyl, and than he gan to crye,
1020 That never herde I thing so hye,
1021 ‘Now up the heed; for al is wel;
1022 Seynt Iulyan, lo, bon hostel!
1023 See here the Hous of Fame, lo!
1024 Maistow not heren that I do?’
1025 ‘What?’ quod I. ‘The grete soun,’
1026 Quod he, ‘that rumbleth up and doun
1027 In Fames Hous, full of tydinges,
1028 Bothe of fair speche and chydinges,
1029 And of fals and soth compouned.
1030 Herke wel; hit is not rouned.
1031 Herestow not the grete swogh?’
1032 ‘Yis, pardee,’ quod I, ‘wel y-nogh.’
1033 ‘And what soun is it lyk?’ quod he.
1034 ‘Peter! lyk beting of the see,’
1035 Quod I, ‘again the roches holowe,
1036 Whan tempest doth the shippes swalowe;
1037 And lat a man stonde, out of doute,
1038 A myle thens, and here hit route;
1039 Or elles lyk the last humblinge
1040 After the clappe of oo thundringe,
1041 Whan Ioves hath the aire y-bete;
1042 But hit doth me for fere swete.’
1043 ‘Nay, dred thee not thereof,’ quod he,
1044 ‘Hit is nothing wil byten thee;
1045 Thou shalt non harme have, trewely.’
1046 And with this word bothe he and I
1047 As nigh the place arryved were
1048 As men may casten with a spere.
1049 I niste how, but in a strete
1050 He sette me faire on my fete,
1051 And seyde, ‘Walke forth a pas,
1052 And tak thyn aventure or cas,
1053 That thou shalt finde in Fames place.’
1054 ‘Now,’ quod I, ‘whyl we han space
1055 To speke, or that I go fro thee,
1056 For the love of god, tel me,
1057 In sooth, that wil I of thee lere,
1058 If this noise that I here
1059 Be as I have herd thee tellen,
1060 Of folk that doun in erthe dwellen,
1061 And cometh here in the same wyse
1062 As I thee herde or this devyse;
1063 And that ther lyves body nis
1064 In al that hous that yonder is,
1065 That maketh al this loude fare?’
1066 ‘No,’ quod he, ‘by Seynte Clare,
1067 And also wis god rede me!
1068 But o thinge I wil warne thee
1069 Of the which thou wolt have wonder.
1070 Lo, to the House of Fame yonder
1071 Thou wost how cometh every speche,
1072 Hit nedeth noght thee eft to teche.
1073 But understond now right wel this;
1074 Whan any speche y-comen is
1075 Up to the paleys, anon-right
1076 Hit wexeth lyk the same wight,
1077 Which that the word in erthe spak,
1078 Be hit clothed red or blak;
1079 And hath so verray his lyknesse
1080 That spak the word, that thou wilt gesse
1081 That hit the same body be,
1082 Man or woman, he or she,
1083 And is not this a wonder thing?’
1084 ‘Yis,’ quod I tho, ‘by hevene king!’
1085 And with this worde, ‘Farwel,’ quod he,
1086 ‘And here I wol abyden thee;
1087 And god of hevene sende thee grace,
1088 Som good to lernen in this place,’
1089 And I of him took leve anoon,
1090 And gan forth to the paleys goon.

Explicit liber secundus.

Book III Incipit liber tercius.

Invocation.

1091 O god of science and of light,
1092 Apollo, through thy grete might,
1093 This litel laste book thou gye!
1094 Nat that I wilne, for maistrye,
1095 Here art poetical be shewed;
1096 But, for the rym is light and lewed,
1097 Yit make hit sumwhat agreable,
1098 Though som vers faile in a sillable;
1099 And that I do no diligence
1100 To shewe craft, but o sentence.
1101 And if, divyne vertu, thou
1102 Wilt helpe me to shewe now
1103 That in myn hede y-marked is —
1104 Lo, that is for to menen this,
1105 The Hous of Fame for to descryve —
1106 Thou shalt see me go, as blyve,
1107 Unto the nexte laure I see,
1108 And kisse hit, for hit is thy tree;
1109 Now entreth in my brest anoon!

The Dream.

1110 Whan I was fro this egle goon,
1111 I gan beholde upon this place.
1112 And certein, or I ferther pace,
1113 I wol yow al the shap devyse
1114 Of hous and site; and al the wyse
1115 How I gan to this place aproche
1116 That stood upon so high a roche,
1117 Hyer stant ther noon in Spaine.
1118 But up I clomb with alle paine,
1119 And though to climbe hit greved me,
1120 Yit I ententif was to see,
1121 And for to pouren wonder lowe,
1122 If I coude any weyes knowe
1123 What maner stoon this roche was;
1124 For hit was lyk a thing of glas,
1125 But that hit shoon ful more clere;
1126 But of what congeled matere
1127 Hit was, I niste redely.
1128 But at the laste espyed I,
1129 And found that hit was, every deel,
1130 A roche of yse, and not of steel.
1131 Thoughte I, ‘By Seynt Thomas of Kent!
1132 This were a feble foundement
1133 To bilden on a place hye;
1134 He ought him litel glorifye
1135 That her-on bilt, god so me save!’
1136 Tho saw I al the half y-grave
1137 With famous folkes names fele,
1138 That had y-been in mochel wele,
1139 And hir fames wyde y-blowe.
1140 But wel unethes coude I knowe
1141 Any lettres for to rede
1142 Hir names by; for, out of drede,
1143 They were almost of-thowed so,
1144 That of the lettres oon or two
1145 Was molte away of every name,
1146 So unfamous was wexe hir fame;
1147 But men seyn, ‘What may ever laste?’
1148 Tho gan I in myn herte caste,
1149 That they were molte awey with hete,
1150 And not awey with stormes bete.
1151 For on that other syde I sey
1152 Of this hille, that northward lay,
1153 How hit was writen ful of names
1154 Of folk that hadden grete fames
1155 Of olde tyme, and yit they were
1156 As fresshe as men had writen hem there
1157 The selve day right, or that houre
1158 That I upon hem gan to poure.
1159 But wel I wiste what hit made;
1160 Hit was conserved with the shade —
1161 Al this wrytinge that I sy —
1162 Of a castel, that stood on hy,
1163 And stood eek on so cold a place,
1164 That hete mighte hit not deface.
1165 Tho gan I up the hille to goon,
1166 And fond upon the coppe a woon,
1167 That alle the men that ben on lyve
1168 Ne han the cunning to descryve
1169 The beautee of that ilke place,
1170 Ne coude casten no compace
1171 Swich another for to make,
1172 That mighte of beautee be his make
1173 Ne be so wonderliche y-wrought;
1174 That hit astonieth yit my thought,
1175 And maketh al my wit to swinke
1176 On this castel to bethinke.
1177 So that the grete craft, beautee,
1178 The cast, and curiositee
1179 Ne can I not to yow devyse,
1180 My wit ne may me not suffyse.
1181 But natheles al the substance
1182 I have yit in my remembrance;
1183 For-why me thoughte, by Seynt Gyle!
1184 Al was of stone of beryle,
1185 Bothe castel and the tour,
1186 And eek the halle, and every bour,
1187 Withouten peces or Ioininges,
1188 But many subtil compassinges,
1189 Babewinnes and pinacles,
1190 Imageries and tabernacles,
1191 I saw; and ful eek of windowes,
1192 As flakes falle in grete snowes.
1193 And eek in ech of the pinacles
1194 Weren sondry habitacles,
1195 In whiche stoden, al withoute —
1196 Ful the castel, al aboute —
1197 Of alle maner of minstrales,
1198 And gestiours, that tellen tales
1199 Bothe of weping and of game,
1200 Of al that longeth unto Fame.
1201 Ther herde I pleyen on an harpe
1202 That souned bothe wel and sharpe,
1203 Orpheus ful craftely,
1204 And on his syde, faste by,
1205 Sat the harper Orion,
1206 And Eacides Chiron,
1207 And other harpers many oon,
1208 And the Bret Glascurion;
1209 And smale harpers with her glees
1210 Saten under hem in sees,
1211 And gunne on hem upward to gape,
1212 And countrefete hem as an ape,
1213 Or as craft countrefeteth kinde.
1214 Tho saugh I stonden hem behinde,
1215 A-fer fro hem, al by hemselve,
1216 Many thousand tymes twelve,
1217 That maden loude menstralcyes
1218 In cornemuse and shalmyes,
1219 And many other maner pype,
1220 That craftely begunne pype
1221 Bothe in doucet and in rede,
1222 That ben at festes with the brede;
1223 And many floute and lilting-horne,
1224 And pypes made of grene corne,
1225 As han thise litel herde-gromes
1226 That kepen bestes in the bromes.
1227 Ther saugh I than Atiteris,
1228 And of Athenes dan Pseustis,
1229 And Marcia that lost her skin,
1230 Bothe in face, body, and chin,
1231 For that she wolde envyen, lo!
1232 To pypen bet than Apollo.
1233 Ther saugh I famous, olde and yonge,
1234 Pypers of the Duche tonge,
1235 To lerne love-daunces, springes,
1236 Reyes, and these straunge thinges.
1237 Tho saugh I in another place
1238 Stonden in a large space,
1239 Of hem that maken blody soun
1240 In trumpe, beme, and clarioun;
1241 For in fight and blood-shedinge
1242 Is used gladly clarioninge.
1243 Ther herde I trumpen Messenus,
1244 Of whom that speketh Virgilius.
1245 Ther herde I Ioab trumpe also,
1246 Theodomas, and other mo;
1247 And alle that used clarion
1248 In Cataloigne and Aragon,
1249 That in hir tyme famous were
1250 To lerne, saugh I trumpe there.
1251 Ther saugh I sitte in other sees,
1252 Pleyinge upon sondry glees,
1253 Whiche that I cannot nevene,
1254 Mo then sterres been in hevene,
1255 Of whiche I nil as now not ryme,
1256 For ese of yow, and losse of tyme:
1257 For tyme y-lost, this knowen ye,
1258 By no way may recovered be.
1259 Ther saugh I pleyen Iogelours,
1260 Magiciens and tregetours,
1261 And phitonesses, charmeresses,
1262 Olde wicches, sorceresses,
1263 That use exorsisaciouns,
1264 And eek thise fumigaciouns;
1265 And clerkes eek, which conne wel
1266 Al this magyke naturel,
1267 That craftely don hir ententes,
1268 To make, in certeyn ascendentes,
1269 Images, lo, through which magyk
1270 To make a man ben hool or syk.
1271 Ther saugh I thee queen Medea,
1272 And Circes eke, and Calipsa;
1273 Ther saugh I Hermes Ballenus,
1274 Lymote, and eek Simon Magus.
1275 Ther saugh I, and knew hem by name,
1276 That by such art don men han fame.
1277 Ther saugh I Colle tregetour
1278 Upon a table of sicamour
1279 Pleye an uncouthe thing to telle;
1280 I saugh him carien a wind-melle
1281 Under a walsh-note shale.
1282 What shuld I make lenger tale
1283 Of al the peple that I say,
1284 Fro hennes in-to domesday?
1285 Whan I had al this folk beholde,
1286 And fond me lous, and noght y-holde,
1287 And eft y-mused longe whyle
1288 Upon these walles of beryle,
1289 That shoon ful lighter than a glas,
1290 And made wel more than hit was
1291 To semen, every thing, y-wis,
1292 As kinde thing of fames is;
1293 I gan forth romen til I fond
1294 The castel-yate on my right hond,
1295 Which that so wel corven was
1296 That never swich another nas;
1297 And yit hit was by aventure
1298 Y-wrought, as often as by cure.
1299 Hit nedeth noght yow for to tellen,
1300 To make yow to longe dwellen,
1301 Of this yates florisshinges,
1302 Ne of compasses, ne of kervinges,
1303 Ne how they hatte in masoneries,
1304 As, corbetz fulle of imageries.
1305 But, lord! so fair hit was to shewe,
1306 For hit was al with gold behewe.
1307 But in I wente, and that anoon;
1308 Ther mette I crying many oon, —
1309 ‘A larges, larges, hold up wel!
1310 God save the lady of this pel,
1311 Our owne gentil lady Fame,
1312 And hem that wilnen to have name
1313 Of us!’ Thus herde I cryen alle,
1314 And faste comen out of halle,
1315 And shoken nobles and sterlinges.
1316 And somme crouned were as kinges,
1317 With crounes wroght ful of losenges;
1318 And many riban, and many frenges
1319 Were on hir clothes trewely.
1320 Tho atte laste aspyed I
1321 That pursevauntes and heraudes,
1322 That cryen riche folkes laudes,
1323 Hit weren alle; and every man
1324 Of hem, as I yow tellen can,
1325 Had on him throwen a vesture,
1326 Which that men clepe a cote-armure,
1327 Enbrowded wonderliche riche,
1328 Al-though they nere nought y-liche.
1329 But noght nil I, so mote I thryve,
1330 Been aboute to discryve
1331 Al these armes that ther weren,
1332 That they thus on her cotes beren,
1333 For hit to me were impossible;
1334 Men mighte make of hem a bible
1335 Twenty foot thikke, as I trowe.
1336 For certeyn, who-so coude y-knowe
1337 Mighte ther alle the armes seen
1338 Of famous folk that han y-been
1339 In Auffrike, Europe, and Asye,
1340 Sith first began the chevalrye,
1341 Lo! how shulde I now telle al this?
1342 Ne of the halle eek what nede is
1343 To tellen yow, that every wal
1344 Of hit, and floor, and roof and al
1345 Was plated half a fote thikke
1346 Of gold, and that nas no-thing wikke,
1347 But, for to prove in alle wyse,
1348 As fyn as ducat in Venyse,
1349 Of whiche to lyte al in my pouche is?
1350 And they wer set as thikke of nouchis
1351 Fulle of the fynest stones faire,
1352 That men rede in the Lapidaire,
1353 As greses growen in a mede;
1354 But hit were al to longe to rede
1355 The names; and therfore I pace.
1356 But in this riche lusty place,
1357 That Fames halle called was,
1358 Ful moche prees of folk ther nas,
1359 Ne crouding, for to mochil prees.
1360 But al on hye, above a dees,
1361 Sitte in a see imperial,
1362 That maad was of a rubee al,
1363 Which that a carbuncle is y-called,
1364 I saugh, perpetually y-stalled,
1365 A feminyne creature;
1366 That never formed by nature
1367 Nas swich another thing y-seye.
1368 For altherfirst, soth for to seye,
1369 Me thoughte that she was so lyte,
1370 That the lengthe of a cubyte
1371 Was lenger than she semed be;
1372 But thus sone, in a whyle, she
1373 Hir tho so wonderliche streighte,
1374 That with hir feet she therthe reighte,
1375 And with hir heed she touched hevene,
1376 Ther as shynen sterres sevene.
1377 And ther-to eek, as to my wit,
1378 I saugh a gretter wonder yit
1379 Upon hir eyen to beholde;
1380 But certeyn I hem never tolde;
1381 For as fele eyen hadde she
1382 As fetheres upon foules be,
1383 Or weren on the bestes foure
1384 That goddes trone gunne honoure,
1385 As Iohn writ in th’Apocalips.
1386 Hir heer, that oundy was and crips,
1387 As burned gold hit shoon to see.
1388 And sooth to tellen, also she
1389 Had also fele up-stonding eres
1390 And tonges, as on bestes heres;
1391 And on hir feet wexen saugh I
1392 Partriches winges redely.
1393 But, lord! the perrie and the richesse
1394 I saugh sitting on this goddesse!
1395 And, lord! the hevenish melodye
1396 Of songes, ful of armonye,
1397 I herde aboute her trone y-songe,
1398 That al the paleys-walles ronge!
1399 So song the mighty Muse, she
1400 That cleped is Caliopee,
1401 And hir eighte sustren eke,
1402 That in hir face semen meke;
1403 And evermo, eternally,
1404 They songe of Fame, as tho herde I: —
1405 ‘Heried be thou and thy name,
1406 Goddesse of renoun and of fame!’
1407 Tho was I war, lo, atte laste,
1408 As I myn eyen gan up caste,
1409 That this ilke noble quene
1410 On hir shuldres gan sustene
1411 Bothe tharmes and the name
1412 Of tho that hadde large fame;
1413 Alexander, and Hercules
1414 That with a sherte his lyf lees!
1415 Thus fond I sitting this goddesse,
1416 In nobley, honour, and richesse;
1417 Of which I stinte a whyle now,
1418 Other thing to tellen yow.
1419 Tho saugh I stonde on either syde,
1420 Streight doun to the dores wyde,
1421 Fro the dees, many a pileer
1422 Of metal, that shoon not ful cleer;
1423 But though they nere of no richesse,
1424 Yet they were maad for greet noblesse,
1425 And in hem greet and hy sentence,
1426 And folk of digne reverence,
1427 Of whiche I wol yow telle fonde,
1428 Upon the piler saugh I stonde.
1429 Alderfirst, lo, ther I sigh,
1430 Upon a piler stonde on high,
1431 That was of lede and yren fyn,
1432 Him of secte Saturnyn,
1433 The Ebrayk Iosephus, the olde,
1434 That of Iewes gestes tolde;
1435 And bar upon his shuldres hye
1436 The fame up of the Iewerye.
1437 And by him stoden other sevene,
1438 Wyse and worthy for to nevene,
1439 To helpen him bere up the charge,
1440 Hit was so hevy and so large.
1441 And for they writen of batailes,
1442 As wel as other olde mervailes,
1443 Therfor was, lo, this pileer,
1444 Of which that I yow telle heer,
1445 Of lede and yren bothe, y-wis,
1446 For yren Martes metal is,
1447 Which that god is of bataille;
1448 And the leed, withouten faille,
1449 Is, lo, the metal of Saturne,
1450 That hath ful large wheel to turne.
1451 Tho stoden forth, on every rowe,
1452 Of hem which that I coude knowe,
1453 Thogh I hem noght be ordre telle,
1454 To make yow to long to dwelle.
1455 These, of whiche I ginne rede,
1456 Ther saugh I stonden, out of drede:
1457 Upon an yren piler strong,
1458 That peynted was, al endelonge,
1459 With tygres blode in every place,
1460 The Tholosan that highte Stace,
1461 That bar of Thebes up the fame
1462 Upon his shuldres, and the name
1463 Also of cruel Achilles.
1464 And by him stood, withouten lees,
1465 Ful wonder hye on a pileer
1466 Of yren, he, the gret Omeer;
1467 And with him Dares and Tytus
1468 Before, and eek he Lollius,
1469 And Guido eek de Columpnis,
1470 And English Gaufride eek, y-wis;
1471 And ech of these, as have I Ioye,
1472 Was besy for to bere up Troye.
1473 So hevy ther-of was the fame,
1474 That for to bere hit was no game.
1475 But yit I gan ful wel espye,
1476 Betwix hem was a litil envye.
1477 Oon seyde, Omere made lyes,
1478 Feyninge in his poetryes,
1479 And was to Grekes favorable;
1480 Therfor held he hit but fable.
1481 Tho saugh I stonde on a pileer,
1482 That was of tinned yren cleer,
1483 That Latin poete, dan Virgyle,
1484 That bore hath up a longe whyle
1485 The fame of Pius Eneas.
1486 And next him on a piler was,
1487 Of coper, Venus clerk, Ovyde,
1488 That hath y-sowen wonder wyde
1489 The grete god of Loves name.
1490 And ther he bar up wel his fame,
1491 Upon his piler, also hye
1492 As I might see hit with myn ye:
1493 For-why this halle, of whiche I rede
1494 Was woxe on highte, lengthe and brede,
1495 Wel more, by a thousand del,
1496 Than hit was erst, that saugh I wel.
1497 Tho saugh I, on a piler by,
1498 Of yren wroght ful sternely,
1499 The grete poete, daun Lucan,
1500 And on his shuldres bar up than,
1501 As highe as that I mighte see,
1502 The fame of Iulius and Pompee.
1503 And by him stoden alle these clerkes,
1504 That writen of Romes mighty werkes,
1505 That, if I wolde hir names telle,
1506 Al to longe most I dwelle.
1507 And next him on a piler stood
1508 Of soulfre, lyk as he were wood,
1509 Dan Claudian, the soth to telle,
1510 That bar up al the fame of helle,
1511 Of Pluto, and of Proserpyne,
1512 That quene is of the derke pyne.
1513 What shulde I more telle of this?
1514 The halle was al ful, y-wis,
1515 Of hem that writen olde gestes,
1516 As ben on trees rokes nestes;
1517 But hit a ful confus matere
1518 Were al the gestes for to here,
1519 That they of write, and how they highte.
1520 But whyl that I beheld this sighte,
1521 I herde a noise aprochen blyve,
1522 That ferde as been don in an hyve,
1523 Agen her tyme of out-fleyinge;
1524 Right swiche a maner murmuringe,
1525 For al the world, hit semed me.
1526 Tho gan I loke aboute and see,
1527 That ther come entring in the halle
1528 A right gret company with-alle,
1529 And that of sondry regiouns,
1530 Of alleskinnes condiciouns,
1531 That dwelle in erthe under the mone,
1532 Pore and ryche. And also sone
1533 As they were come into the halle,
1534 They gonne doun on knees falle
1535 Before this ilke noble quene,
1536 And seyde, ‘Graunte us, lady shene,
1537 Ech of us, of thy grace, a bone!’
1538 And somme of hem she graunted sone,
1539 And somme she werned wel and faire;
1540 And somme she graunted the contraire
1541 Of hir axing utterly,
1542 But thus I seye yow trewely,
1543 What hir cause was, I niste.
1544 For of this folk, ful wel I wiste,
1545 They hadde good fame ech deserved,
1546 Althogh they were diversly served;
1547 Right as hir suster, dame Fortune,
1548 Is wont to serven in comune.
1549 Now herkne how she gan to paye
1550 That gonne hir of hir grace praye;
1551 And yit, lo, al this companye
1552 Seyden sooth, and noght a lye.
1553 ‘Madame,’ seyden they, ‘we be
1554 Folk that heer besechen thee,
1555 That thou graunte us now good fame,
1556 And let our werkes han that name;
1557 In ful recompensacioun
1558 Of good werk, give us good renoun.’
1559 ‘I werne yow hit,’ quod she anoon,
1560 ‘Ye gete of me good fame noon,
1561 By god! and therfor go your wey.’
1562 ‘Alas,’ quod they, ‘and welaway!
1563 Telle us, what may your cause be?’
1564 ‘For me list hit noght,’ quod she;
1565 ‘No wight shal speke of yow, y-wis,
1566 Good ne harm, ne that ne this.’
1567 And with that word she gan to calle
1568 Hir messanger, that was in halle,
1569 And bad that he shulde faste goon,
1570 Up peyne to be blind anoon,
1571 For Eolus, the god of winde; —
1572 ‘In Trace ther ye shul him finde,
1573 And bid him bringe his clarioun,
1574 That is ful dyvers of his soun,
1575 And hit is cleped Clere Laude,
1576 With which he wont is to heraude
1577 Hem that me list y-preised be:
1578 And also bid him how that he
1579 Bringe his other clarioun,
1580 That highte Sclaundre in every toun,
1581 With which he wont is to diffame
1582 Hem that me list, and do hem shame.’
1583 This messanger gan faste goon,
1584 And found wher, in a cave of stoon,
1585 In a contree that highte Trace,
1586 This Eolus, with harde grace,
1587 Held the windes in distresse,
1588 And gan hem under him to presse,
1589 That they gonne as beres rore,
1590 He bond and pressed hem so sore.
1591 This messanger gan faste crye,
1592 ‘Rys up,’ quod he, ‘and faste hye,
1593 Til that thou at my lady be;
1594 And tak thy clarions eek with thee,
1595 And speed the forth.’ And he anon
1596 Took to a man, that hight Triton,
1597 His clariouns to bere tho,
1598 And leet a certeyn wind to go,
1599 That blew so hidously and hye,
1600 That hit ne lefte not a skye
1601 In al the welken longe an brood.
1602 This Eolus no-wher abood
1603 Til he was come at Fames feet,
1604 And eek the man that Triton heet;
1605 And ther he stood, as still as stoon.
1606 And her-withal ther com anoon
1607 Another huge companye
1608 Of gode folk, and gunne crye,
1609 ‘Lady, graunte us now good fame,
1610 And lat our werkes han that name
1611 Now, in honour of gentilesse,
1612 And also god your soule blesse!
1613 For we han wel deserved hit,
1614 Therfore is right that we ben quit.’
1615 ‘As thryve I,’ quod she, ‘ye shal faile,
1616 Good werkes shal yow noght availe
1617 To have of me good fame as now.
1618 But wite ye what? Y graunte yow,
1619 That ye shal have a shrewed fame
1620 And wikked loos, and worse name,
1621 Though ye good loos have wel deserved.
1622 Now go your wey, for ye be served;
1623 And thou, dan Eolus, let see!
1624 Tak forth thy trumpe anon,’ quod she,
1625 ‘That is y-cleped Sclaunder light,
1626 And blow her loos, that every wight
1627 Speke of hem harm and shrewednesse,
1628 In stede of good and worthinesse.
1629 For thou shalt trumpe al the contraire
1630 Of that they han don wel or faire.’
1631 ‘Alas,’ thoughte I, ‘what aventures
1632 Han these sory creatures!
1633 For they, amonges al the pres,
1634 Shul thus be shamed, gilteles!
1635 But what! hit moste nedes be.’
1636 What did this Eolus, but he
1637 Tok out his blakke trumpe of bras,
1638 That fouler than the devil was,
1639 And gan this trumpe for to blowe,
1640 As al the world shulde overthrowe;
1641 That through-out every regioun
1642 Wente this foule trumpes soun,
1643 As swift as pelet out of gonne,
1644 Whan fyr is in the poudre ronne.
1645

The House of Fame – Middle English - GEOFFREY CHAUCER