Why live I wretch (quoth he) alas and wellaway,
Or why beholde my heavy eies, this gladsome sunny day?
Since never sunne yet shone, that could my state advaunce,
Why live I wretche (alas quoth he) in hope of better chaunce?
Or wherefore telles my toung, this drearye dolefull tale,
That every eare might heare my grieefe and so bemone my bale?
Since eare was never yet, that harkened to my playnte,
Why live I wretch (alas quoth he) my pangs in vaine to paint?
Or wherfore dotes desire, that doth his wish disclose,
And shewes the sore that seeks recure, thereby to ease my woes?
Since yet he never found, the hart where pyttie dwelt,
Why live I wretch (alas quoth he) alone in woe to swelt.
Why strive I with the streame, or hoppe against the hill,
Or search that never can be founde, or loose my labor still?
Since destenies decreed, must alwayes be obeyde,
Why live I wretch alas (quoth he) with lucke thus overleyde.
Why feedes my heart on hope? why tyre I still on trust?
Why doth my minde still muse on mirth? why leanes my life on lust?
Since hope had never hap, & trust always found treason,
Why live I wretch alas (quoth he) where all good luck is geazon?
The fatal Sisters three, which spun my slender twine,
Knew wel how rotten was the yarne, fron whence they drew their line:
Yet have they woven the web, with care so manifolde,
(Alas I woful wretch the while) as any cloth can holde:
Yea though the threeds be cowrse, and such as others lothe,
Yet must I wrap alwayes therin, my bones and body both:
And weare it out at length, which lasteth but too long.
O weaver weaver work no more, thy warp hath done me wrong:
For therin have I lapt my light and lustie yeares,
And therin haplesse have I hapt, mine age and hoarie heares:
Yet never found I warmth, by jetting in thy jaggs,
Nor never can I weare them out, although they rende like raggs.
The May moone of mine age, I meane the gallant time
When coales of kinde first kindled love, & plesure was in prime,
All bitter was the frute, which still I reaped then,
And little was the gaine I got, comparde by other men.
Teare-thirstie were the Dames, to whome I sued for grace,
Some stonie stomackt, other some, of high disdainful race.
But all unconstant (ay) and (that to thinke) I die,
The guerdon which Cosmana gave, can witnesse if I lie.
Cosmana was the wight to whome I wished well,
To serve Cosmana did I seeme, in love to beare the bell:
Cosmana was my god, Cosmana was my joy,
Ay me, Cosmana turnde my mirth, to dole and dark anoy:
Revenge it Radamanth, if I be found to lie,
Or if I slaunder hir at all, condemne me then to die.
Thou knowst I honored hir, no more but all too much,
Alas thou knowst she cast me off, when I deservde no grutch.
She dead (I dying yet) ay me my teares were dried,
And teeth of time anew out the grief, which al to long I tried,
Yet from hir ashes sprung, or from such subtile molde,
Ferenda she, whome everie eye, did judge more bright than golde.
Ferenda then I sawe, Ferenda I behelde,
Ferenda servde I faithfully, in towne and eke in fielde:
Ferenda coulde not say, the greene Knight was untrew;
But out alas, the greene Knight sayde, Ferenda changde for new:
Ferenda did hir kinde: then was she to be borne,
She did but weare Cosmanes cloutes, which she in spite had tome
And yet betwene them both they waare the threeds so neere,
As were they not of steele or stone, they coulde not holde yfeere.
But now Ferenda mine, a little by thy leave:
What moved thee to madding moode? why didst thou me deceave?
Alas I was al thine, thy selfe can say no lesse,
And for thy fall, I bathed oft in many a deepe distresse:
And yet to do thee right, I neyther blame thy race,
Thy shining selfe, the golden gleames that glistred on thy face,
Nor yet thy fickle faith, shall never beare the blame,
But I, whome kinde hath framd to finde, a griefe in everie game:
The high decrees of heaven, have limited my life,
To linger stil wher Love doth lodge, yet there to sterve in strife.
For proofe, who list to know what makes me nowe complaine,
Give eare unto the greene Knights tale: for now begins his paine.
When rash unbridled youth had run his recklesse race,
And caried me with carelesse course, to many a great disgrace,
Then riper mellowed yeares, thought good to turne their trade,
And bad Repentance hol[d] the reines, to rule the brainsicke jade:
So that with much to doo, the brydle helde him backe,
And Reason made him byte on bit, which had a better smacke:
And for I felte my selfe, by feeblenesse fordoonne,
And panting still for lack of breath, as one much overroonne.
Therefore I toke advise, to walke him first awhile,
And so at length to set him up, his travayles to beguile:
Yea when he curried was, and dusted slicke and trimme,
I causde both hey and provender to be allowde for him:
Wherat (alas to thinke) he gathered flesh so fast,
That still he playd his coltish pranks, when as I thought them past:
He winched still alwayes, and whisked with his taile,
And leaping over hedge and ditch, I sawe it not prevaile
To pamper him so proude: Wherfore I thought it best,
To travaile him (not as I woont) yet nay to give him rest.
Thus well resolved then, I kept him still in harte,
And founde a pretie provender appointed for his parte,
Which once a day, no more, he might a little tast:
And by this diet, made I youth a gentle jade at last:
And foorth I might him ride, an easie journeying pace,
He never strave with middle age, but gently gave him place:
Then middle age steps in, and toke the helme in hande,
To guide my Barke by better skill, into some better lande.
And as eche noble heart is evermore most bent,
To high exploitee and woorthie deedes, where honor may be hent:
So mine unyolden minde, by Armes gan seeke renowne,
And sought to rayse, that recklesse youth had rashly tumbled downe.
With sworde and trustie targe, then sought I for to carve
For middle age and hoarie haires, and both their turnes to serve:
And in my Carvers roome, I gan to cut suche cuttes,
And made suche morsels for their mouthes as well might fill their guttes,
Beside some overplus, (which being kept in store)
Might serve to welcome al their friends, with foison evermore:
I meane no more but this: my hand gan finde such happe,
As made me thinke, that Fortune ment, to play me in hir lappe:
And hope therwith had heavde, my heart to be so hie,
That still I hoapt, by force of armes, to climbe above the Skie:
I bathed still in blisse, I ledde a lordelie life,
My Souldiers lovde and fearde me both, I never dreaded strife:
My boord was furnisht stil, with cates of dainty cost,
My back wel clad, my purse wel lynde, my woonted lack was lost,
My bags began to fil, my debtes for to discharge,
My state so stoode, as sure I seemde to swim in good lucks barge:
But out and well away, what pleasure breedes not paine?
What sun can shine without a cloud, what thunder brings not rain?
Such is the life of man, such was the luck of me,
To fall so fast from hiest hap, where sure I seemde to be.
Five hundred sundrie sunnes (and more) could scarcely serve,
By sweat of brows to win a roome, wherin my knife might carve:
One onely dismall day, suffised (with despite)
To take me from my carvers place, and from the table quite.
Five hundred broken sleepes, had busied all my braynes,
To find (at last) some worthy trade, that might increse my gaynes:
One blacke unluckie houre, my trade hath overthrowen,
And marrde my marte, & broke my bank, & al my blisse oreblowen.
To wrappe up all in woe, I am in prison pent,
My gaines possessed by my foes, my friends against me bent:
And all the heavy haps, that ever age yet bare,
Assembled are within my breast, to choake me up with care.
My modest middle age, which lacks of youth the lust,
Can beare no such gret burdens now, but throwes them in the dust:
Yet in this piteous plight, beholde me Lovers all,
And rewe my grieves, least you your selves do light on such a fal.
I am that wearie wretch, whom love always hath tyred,
And fed me with such strange conceytes, as never man desired.
For now (even now) ay me: I love and cannot chuse,
So strangely yet, as wel may move the wisest mindes to muse.
No blasing beauty bright, hath set my heart on fire,
No ticing talke, no gorgeous gyte, tormenteth my desire,
No bodie finely framde, no haggarde Falcons eie,
No ruddie lip, no golden locks, hath drawne my minde angrie:
No teeth of shining pearle, no gallant rosie hiew,
No dimpled chinne, no pit in cheeke, presented to my view:
In fine, no such delights, as lovers oft allure,
Are cause why thus I do lament, or put my plaintes in ure:
But such a strange affect, as both I shame to tell,
And all the worlde may woonder much, how first therin I fell.
Yet since I have begonne (quoth he) to tell my griefe,
I wil nought hide, although I hope to finde no great reliefe.
And thus, (quoth he) it is: Amongst the sundrie joyes
Which I conceivde in feates of warre, and all my Martial toyes,
My chaunce was late to have a peerlesse firelock peece,
That to my wittes was nay the like, in Turkie nor in Greece:
A peece so cleanly framde, so streight, so light, so fine,
So tempred and so polished, as seemeth worke divine:
A peece whose locke yet past, for why [it] never failde,
And though I bent it night and day, the quicknesse never quailde:
A peece as well renforst, as ever yet was wrought,
The bravest peece for breech and bore, that ever yet was bought:
The mounture so well made, and for my pitch so fit,
As though I see faire peeces moe, yet fewe so fine as it:
A peece which shot so well, so gently and so streight,
It neyther bruzed with recule, nor wroong with overweight.
In fine and to conclude, I know no fault thereby,
That eyther might be thought in minde, or wel discernde with ey.
This peece then late I had, and therin tooke delight,
As much as ever proper peece did please a warlike wight.
Nowe though it be not lost, nor rendred with the rest,
Yet being shut from sight therof, how can I thinke me blest?
Or which way should I hope, that such a jewell rare,
Can passe unseen in any campe where cunning shooters are?
And therewith am I sure, that being once espied,
It never can escape their hands, but that it will be tried:
And being once but prooved, then farewel frost for me,
My peece, my locke, and all is lost, and I shall never see
The like againe on earth. Nowe Lovers speake your minde,
Was ever man so strangely stroke, or caught in such a kinde?
Was ever man so fonde? was ever man so mad?
Was ever man so woe begone? or in such cares yclad?
For restlesse thus I rest, the wretchedst man on live,
And when I thinke upon this peece, then still my woes revive.
Nor ever can I finde good plaister for my paine,
Unlesse my lucke might be so good, to finde that peece againe.
To make my mourning more, where I in prison pine,
I daily see a pretie peece, much like that peece of mine,
Which helps my hurt, much like unto a broken shinne,
That when it heales, begins to ytch, and then rubs off the skinne.
Thus live I still in love, alas and ever shall,
As well content to loose my peece, as gladde to finde my fall:
A wonder to the worlde, a griefe to friendlie mindes,
A mocking stocke to Momus race, and al such scornefull hindes,
A love (that thinke I sure) whose like was never seene,
Nor never warlike wight shal be in love as I have beene:
So that in sooth (quoth he) I cannot blame the Dames,
Whome I in youth did moste esteeme, I list not foile their fames,
But there to lay the fault, from whence it first did flowe:
I say my Fortune is the root, whence all these griefes did grow.
Since Fortune then (quoth he) hath turnde to me hir backe,
Shall I go yeeld to mourning moane, and cloath my self in blacke?
No no, for noble mindes can beare no thraldome so,
But rather shew a merrie cheere, when most they wade in wo.
And so will I in greene, my careful corpse aray,
To set a bragge amongst the best, as though my heart were gay:
Not greene bicause I hope, nor greene bicause I joy,
Nor greene, bicause I can delight in any youthfull toy:
But greene, bicause my greeves are alway fresh and greene,
Whose roote is such it cannot rot, as by the frute is seene.
Thus sayde, he gave a groane, as though his heart had broke,
And from the furnace of his breast, sent scalding sighes like smoke:
And sighing so, he sate in solitarie wise,
Conveying flouds of brynish teares, by conduct of his eyes.
What ende he had God knoweth, Battello writes it not,
Or if he do, my wittes are short, for I have it forgot.
Why live I wretch (quoth he) alas and wellaway,