Epithalamium for Gloucester
Thorugh gladde aspectes of the god Cupid
And ful accord of his moder deere,
Ful oft sithes list aforne provide
By course eterne of the sterres cleere
Hertes in love to to join in ferre
Through bond of faith perpetually t’ endure.
By influence of God and of Nature.
The heven above disposeth many thinges
Which wit of man can not comprehende
The fatal order of lordes and of kinges
To make somme in honour highe ascende
And some also ful lowe to descende
And in love eke to lacen and constraine
Hertes t’ embrace in Jupiter’s chain.
Thus cam in first the knotte of alliaunce
Between provinces and worthy regions,
Folkes to sette in peace and accordaunce
To been all one in theire affecciouns
And to exclude alle divisiouns
Of contekk, strif of bataile, and of werres
The first cause pourtrayed in the sterres.
For no man may th’ ordainaunce eschue
Thinges disposed by cours celestial
Nor destinee to void ne to remue
But only god, that lordshipe al
For thorough his might moost imperial,
Th’ eternal lord, most discreete and sage,
He brought in first th’ ordre of mariage.
Ensaumple in books ther ben more than oon
Th’ inward pith whoso list to charge
Executed is of so yore agoon
Recorde I take of Calydoine and Arge
Howe tho landes so brood, so wide, so large
Were maked oon — the story list not feigne —
By mariage, which a-fore were twain.
And in chronicles autentik and olde
Many a story of antiquitee
Unto this purpose rehersed is and told,
How mariages have ground and cause be
Bewteen lands of pees and unitee
And here-to-forn, as made is remembraunce,
The war stint of England and of Fraunce.
And as I hope of hert and mening true
The mortal war cesse shal and fine
Betwene tho bothe and pees againe renew
To make love with cleer beemes shine
By meene of her that highte Katherine,
Joined til oon — his deedes can you tell —
Henry the fifte, of knighthood sours and well.
And further-down for to specifye
Pees and accorde for to multiplye
The dew of grace distill shall and raine
In the boundes here of our Brettaine
To find a way whereby we may attain
That Duchy of Holand by hool affeccioun
May be allied with Brutus Albioun.
That they may be oon body and oon hert,
Rooted on faith, devoid of doublenesse,
And eek to sen clerly and adverte
A newe sonne to shinen of gladnesse
In bothe londes t’ exlcuden al derknesse
Of old hatred and of al rancoure
Brought in my meene of oon that is the floure.
Thorough-oute the world called of wommanheed,
True ensaumple and well of al goodenesse,
Benign of port, root of goodlihede,
Sothfast mirror of beautee and fairnesse —
I meene of Holand the goodly fresh duchesse
Called Jaques, whos birth for to termine
Is by descent imperial of line.
As Hester meek, and as Judith sage,
Flowring in youth like to Polixseene;
Secree, faithful as Dido of Cartage,
Constant of hert, like Ecuba the queene,
And as Lucresse in love true and cleene;
Of bountee, fredom, and of gentilnesse
She may be called well, lady, and maistresss.
Fair was Heleyne, like as bookes telleth,
And renommed as of seemlynesse,
But she in goodness far above excelleth;
To rekken her trouthe and her stedfastnesse,
Her governaunce, and her highe noblesse,
That if she shal shrotly be comprehended,
In her is nothing that might ben amended.
Ther-to she is discreet and wonder sadde
In her apport, whoso list take heede;
Right avisee and wommanly, eek gladde;
And dame Prudence doth ay her bridle leede;
Fortune and Grace, and Raisoun eek in deed
In all her workes with her ben allied,
That throughout the world, her name is magnified.
To the poor she is also ful merciable,
Ful of pitee and compassioun,
And of nature list not to be vengeable —
Though it so be she have occasioun —
That I suppose nowe in no regioun
Was never a better at alle assayes founden,
So muche vertu doth in her abounden.
A heven it is to ben in her presence,
Who list consider her governaunce at al,
Whos goodely look in verray existence
So aungelik and so celestial,
So feminine; and in especial
Her eyen sayn ‘Whoso look weel
Foryiven is oure wrath, every deel.’
And her colurs ben black, white, and rede;
The red in trouthe tokeneth stablenesse,
And the black, whoso taketh heede,
Signifeth parfyt sobernesse;
The white also is token of cleennesse,
And eek her word is in verray sooth
‘Ce bien raysoun’ al that ever she dooth.
And sith she is by descent of blood
The gretest born oon of hem on live
And ther-with-al most vertuous and good,
The trouth plainly yif I shal descrive
Such grace I hope of newe shal arrive
With her coming through al this lande
That there shal be a perpetualle bande
Perfourming up, by knott of mariage,
With help of God, between this lady bright
And oon that is soothly of his age
Thorough al this world oon the best knight
And best pourveyed of manhood and of might
In pees and werre thorough his excellence,
And is also of wisdom and prudence
Most renommed for to rekken al
From Eest to West, as of highe prowesse;
In daring do and deedes marcial
He passeth alle thorough his worthynesse,
That yif I shall the trouthe cleer expresse,
He hath deserved thorough his knyghtly name
To be registred in The House of Fame.
Egally — ye! — with the worthy nine,
For with Paris he hath comlynesse;
In trouth of love with Troilus he doth shine;
And with Hector he hath eek hardynesse;
Woth Tideus he hath fredom and gentilnesse;
Wall of Bretaine, by manly violence
Again her fomen to standen at defence.
Sloth eschewing, he doth his wit applye
To reed in bookes which that ben moral;
In holy writ with the allegorye
He him deliteth to look in special;
In understonding is none to him egal.
Of his estate expert in poetrye,
With parfounde feeling of Phylosophye.
With Solomon hath he sapience,
Fame of Knighthood with Cesar Juius;
Of rhetorik and eek of eloquence
Equipollent with Marcus Tulius;
With Hannibal he is victorious,
Like unto Pompey for his highe renown,
And to governe egale with Scipioun.
This Martes sone and soothfastly his heir
So wold God of his eternal might
He joined were with her that is so fair,
The freshe duchesse of whom I speek now right,
Sith he in hert is her true knight,
For whom he writeth ‘in good aventure
Sanz plus vous belle’ perpetually t’ endure.
Thanne were this land in ful sikernesse
Agains th’ assaut of our mortal foon;
Farewell thanne al trouble and hevynesse,
Yif so were these landes were alle oon,
And God I pray it may be done anoon;
Of his might so graciously ordaine
That pees final were sette between hem twaine.
And I dare well affirm finally
Thorough-oute this lande, of highe and low degree,
That alle folkes prayen ful specially
This thing in haste may executed be,
And Thou that art oon and two and three
This gracious werk dispose for the best
For to conclude the fine of theire request.
And Ymeneus, thou fortune this mattere
Thorough help of Juno, next of thine allye,
Make a knot faithful and entire,
As whilom was between Philologye
And Mercury eek, so highe above the skye,
Wher that Clio and Caliope
Sang with her sustren in noumbre thries three
And all ye goddes beth of oon accord,
That have your dwelling above the firmament,
And ye goddesses, devoid of al discord,
Beth well-willy and also diligent.
And thou, Fortune, be also of assent
This needful thing t’ execute yerne
Through your power, which that is eterne.
Princess of Bountee, of Freedom emperesse,
The verray lodesterre of al Goodlyheede,
Lowly I pray unto your highe Noblesse,
Of my Rudenesse not to taken heed,
And wher-so it be this bille that ye reed
Hath mercy ay on min ignoraunce,
Sith I it made betwix hope and dreed
Of hoole entent you for til do plesaunce.