For thought, constreint, and grevous hevines,
For pensifhede and for heigh distres,
To bed I went nou this othir nyght, now;
Whan that Lucina with hir pale light
Was joyned last with Phebus in Aquarie,
Amyd Decembre, when of Januarie
Ther be kalendes of the nwe yere,
And derk Diane, ihorned, nothing clere,
Had hir bemys undir a mysty cloude.
Within my bed for sore I gan me shroude,
Al desolate for constreint of my wo,
The longe nyght waloing to and fro,
Til atte last, er I gan taken kepe,
Me did oppresse a sodein dedeli slepe,
Within the which me thoughte that I was
Ravysshid in spirit in a temple of glas
(I nyst how, ful fer in wildirnesse)
That foundid was, as bi liklynesse,
Not opon stele, but on a craggy roche
Like ise ifrore. And as I did approche
Again the sonne that shone, me thought, so clere
As eny cristal, and ever nere and nere
As I gan neigh this grisli dredful place,
I wex astonyed: the light so in my face
Bigan to smyte, so persing ever in one
On evere part, where that I gan gone,
That I ne myght nothing, as I would,
Abouten me considre and bihold
The wondre hestres, for brightnes of the sonne;
Til atte last certein skyes donne,
With wind ichaced, have her cours iwent
Tofore the stremes of Titan and iblent,
So that I myght, within and withoute,
Where so I walk, biholden me aboute,
Forto report the fasoun and manere
Of al this place that was circulere
In compaswise, round b’entaile wrought.
And whan that I hade long gone and sought,
I fond a wiket and entrid in as fast
Into the temple, and myn eighen cast
On evere side, now lowe and eft aloft.
And right anone as I gan walken soft
(If I the soth aright reporte shal)
I saughe depeynt opon everй wal,
From est to west, ful many a faire image
Of sondri lovers, lich as thei were of age,
Isette in ordre aftir thei were trwe,
With lifli colours wondir fressh of hwe.
And (as me thought) I saughe somme sit and stonde,
And some kneling with billis in hir honde,
And some with compleint, woful and pitous,
With doleful chere to putten to Venus,
So as she sate fleting in the se,
Upon hire wo forto have pitй.
And first of al I saugh there of Cartage
Dido the quene, so goodli of visage,
That gan complein hir adventure and caas,
Hou she deceyved was of Eneas,
For al his hestis and his othis sworne,
And said, alas, that ever she was borne,
Whan that she saugh that ded she moste be.
And next I saugh the compleint of Medee,
Hou that she was falsed of Jason.
And nygh bi Venus saugh I sit Addoun,
And al the maner hou the bore him slough,
For whom she wepte and hade pein inoughe.
There saugh I also, hou Penalopй,
For she so long hir lord ne myghte se,
Ful oft wex of colour pale and grene.
And aldernext was the fresshe quene,
I mene Alceste, the noble trwe wyfe,
And for Admete hou she lost hir life,
And for hir trouth, if I shal not lie,
Hou she was turnyd to a daiesie.
Ther was also Grisildis innocence,
And al hir mekenes and hir pacience.
There was eke Isaude, and meni anothir mo,
And al the turment and al the cruel wo
That she hade for Tristram al hir live.
And hou that Tesbie her herte dide rife
With thilke swerd of him Piramus.
And al the maner hou that Theseus
The Minatawre slow amyd the hous
That was forwrynkled bi craft of Dedalus,
When that he was in prison shette in Crete.
And hou that Phillis felt of loves hete
The grete fire of Demophon, alas,
And for his falshed and for his trespas
Upon the walles depeint men myghte se
Hou she was honged upon a filbert tre.
And mani a stori (mo then I rekin can)
Were in the tempil. And hou that Paris wan
The faire Heleyne, the lusti fresshe quene;
And hou Achilles was for Policene
Islain unwarli within Troie toune:
Al this sawe I walkynge up and doun.
Ther sawe I writen eke the hole tale,
Hou Philomene into a nyghtyngale
Iturned was, and Progne unto a swalow.
And hou the Sabyns in hir maner halowe
The fest of Lucresse yit in Rome toune.
There saugh I also the sorou of Palamoun,
That he in prison felt, and al the smert,
And hou that he thurugh unto his hert
Was hurt unwarli thurugh casting of an eyghe
Of faire fressh the yunge Emelie,
And al the strife bitwene him and his brothir,
And hou that one faught eke with that othir
Within the grove, til thei bi Theseus
Acordid were, as Chaucer tellith us.
And forthirmore (as I gan bihold),
I sawgh hou Phebus with an arow of gold
Iwoundid was thurughoute in his side,
Onli bi envie of the god Cupide;
And hou that Daphne unto a laurer tre
Iturned was when that she dide fle;
And hou that Jove gan to chaunge his cope
Oonli for love of the faire Europe,
And into a bole, when he did hir sue,
List of his godhode his fourme to transmwe;
And hou that he bi transmutacioun
The shap gan take of Amphitrioun
For his Almen so passing of beautй;
So was he hurt for al his deitй
With loves dart, and myght it not ascape;
There saugh I also hou that Mars was take
Of Vulcanus and with Venus found,
And with the cheynes invisible bound.
Ther was also al the poesie
Of him, Mercurie, and Philologye,
And hou that she for hir sapience
Iweddit was to god of eloquence,
And hou the Musis lowli did obeie,
High into heven this ladi to convei,
And with hir song hou she was magnified
With Jubiter to bein istellified.
And uppermore depeint men myghte se
Hou with hir ring goodli Canacй
Of everй foule the ledne and the song
Coud undirstond as she welk hem among;
And hou hir brothir so oft holpen was
In his myschefe bi the stede of bras.
And forthermore in the tempil were
Ful mani a thousand of lovers here and there,
In sondri wise redi to complein
Unto the goddes of hir wo and pein,
Hou thei were hindrid, some for envie,
And hou the serpent of fals Jelousie
Ful many a lover hath iput obak,
And causeles on hem ilaid a lak.
And some ther were that pleyned on absence,
That werin exiled and put oute of presence
Thurugh wikkid tungis and fals suspecioun,
Withoute mercy or remyssyoun.
And other eke her servise spent in vain,
Thurugh cruel Daunger and also bi Disdain;
And some also that loved, soth to sein,
And of her ladi were not lovyd again.
And othir eke that for povertй
Durst on no wise hir grete adversitй
Discure ne open lest thai were refusid;
And some for wanting also werin accusid,
And othir eke that loved secreli,
And of her ladi durst aske no merci,
Lest that she would of hem have despite;
And some also that putten ful grete wite
On double lovers that love thingis nwe,
Thurgh whos falsnes hindred be the trwe.
And some ther were, as it is ofte found,
That for her ladi meny a blodi wounde
Endurid hath in mani a regioun,
Whiles that an other hath poscessioun
Al of his ladi and berith awai the fruyte
Of his labur and of al his suyte.
And other eke compleyned on Riches,
Hou he with tresour doth his besines
To wynnen al againes kynd and ryght,
Wher trw lovers have force noon ne myght.
And some ther were as maydens yung of age,
That pleined sore with peping and with rage,
That thei were coupled ageines al nature
With croked elde, that may not long endure
Forto perfourme the lust of loves plai:
For it ne sit not unto fresshe May
Forto be coupled to oold Januari.
Thei ben so divers that thei moste varie,
For eld is grucching and malencolious,
Ay ful of ire and suspecious,
And iouth entendeth to joy and lustines,
To myrth and plai and to al gladnes.
Allas that ever that it shulde fal,
To soote sugre icoupled be with gal.
These yonge folk criden ofte sithe
And praied Venus hir pouer forto kithe
Upon this myschef and shape remedie.
And right anon I herd othir crie
With sobbing teris and with ful pitous soune,
Tofore the goddes bi lamentacioun,
That conseiles in hir tender youthe,
And in childhode (as it is oft couthe)
Yrendred were into religioun
Or thei hade yeris of discresioun,
That al her life cannot but complein,
In wide copis perfeccion to feine:
Ful covertli to curen al hir smert
And shew the contrarie outward of her hert.
Thus saugh I wepen many a faire maide,
That on hir freendis al the wite thei leide.
And other next I saugh there in gret rage,
That thei were maried in her tendir age
Withoute fredom of eleccioun,
Wher love hath seld domynacioun:
For love, at laarge and at libertй,
Would freli chese and not with such tretй.
And other saugh I ful oft wepe and wring
That they in men founde swych variynge,
To love a seisoun while that beautй floureth,
And bi disdein so ungoodli loureth
On hir that whilom he callid his ladi dere,
That was to him so plesaunt and entere;
But lust with fairnes is so overgone,
That in her hert trouth abideth none.
And som also I saugh in teris reyne,
And pitousli on God and Kynde pleyne,
That ever thei would on eny creature
So mych beautй, passing bi mesure,
Set on a woman to geve occasioun
A man to love to his confusioun,
And nameli there where he shal have no grace;
For with a loke forthbi as he doth pace,
Ful ofte falleth, thurugh casting of an yghe,
A man is woundid that he most nedis deye,
That never efter, peraventure, shal hir se.
Whi wil God don so gret a crueltй
To eny man or to his creature,
To maken him so mych wo endure,
For hir percaas whom he shal in no wise
Rejoise never, but so forth in jewise
Ledin his life til that he be grave?
For he ne durst of hir no merci crave,
And eke, peraventure, though he durst and would
He can not wit where he hir finde shuld.
I saugh there eke (and therof hade I routhe)
That som were hindred for covetise and slouth,
And some also for her hastines,
And other eke for hir reklesnes.
But alderlast as I walk and biheld,
Beside Pallas with hir cristal sheld
Tofore the statue of Venus set on height,
Hou that ther knelid a ladi in my syght
Tofore the goddes, which right as the sonne
Passeth the sterres and doth hir stremes donne,
And Lucifer to voide the nyghtes sorow
In clerenes passeth erli bi the morow;
And so as Mai hath the sovereintй
Of evere moneth, of fairnes and beautй;
And as the rose in swetnes and odoure
Surmounteth floures, and bawme of al licour
Haveth the pris; and as the rubie bright
Of al stones in beautй and in sight
(As it is know) hath the regalie:
Right so this ladi with hir goodli eighe
And with the stremes of hir loke so bright
Surmounteth al thurugh beautй in my sighte.
Forto tel hir gret semelines,
Hir womanhed, hir port, and hir fairnes,
It was a mervaile hou ever that Nature
Coude in hir werkis make a creature
So aungellike, so goodli on to se,
So femynyn or passing of beautй,
Whos sonnyssh here, brighter than gold were
Lich Phebus bemys shynyng in his spere;
The goodlihed eke of hir fresshli face,
So replenysshid of beautй and of grace,
So wel ennuyd bi Nature and depeint
That rose and lileis togedir were so meint,
So egalli bi good proporcioun
That (as me thought) in myn inspeccioun
I gan mervaile hou God or werk of Kynd
Mighten of beautй such a tresour find,
To geven hir so passing excellence.
For, in goode faith, thurugh hir heigh presence
The tempil was enlumynd enviroun.
And forto speke of condicioun
She was the best that myghte ben on lyve:
For ther was noon that with hir myghte strive,
To speke of bountй or of gentilles,
Of womanhed or of lowlynes,
Of curtesie or of goodlihed,
Of spech, of chere, or of semlyhed,
Of port benygne and of daliaunce
The beste taught, and therto of plesaunce
She was the wel, and eke of onestй
An exemplarie, and mirrour eke was she
Of secrenes, of trouth, of faythfulnes,
And to al other ladi and maistres,
To sue vertu, whoso list to lere.
And so this ladi benigne and humble of chere,
Kneling I saugh, al clad in grene and white,
Tofore Venus, goddes of al delite,
Embrouded al with stones and perre
So richeli that joi it was to se,
With sondri rolles on hir garnement
Forto expoune the trouth of hir entent,
And shew fulli that for hir humbilles,
And for hir vertu and hir stabilnes,
That she was rote of al womanli pleasaunce.
Therfore hir woord withoute variaunce
Enbrouded was, as men myghte se,
De Mieulx en Mieulx, with stones and perre.
This to sein that she, this benigne,
From bettir to bettir hir herte doth resigne
And al hir wil to Venus the goddes,
Whan that hir list hir harmes to redresse.
For, as me thought, sumwhat bi hir chere,
Forto compleyne she hade gret desire:
For in hir hond she held a litel bil
Forto declare the somme of al hir wil
And to the goddes hir quarel forto shewe,
Th’effect of which was this in wordys fewe:
“O ladi Venus, modir of Cupide,
That al this world hast in governaunce,
And hertes high that hauteyn ben of pride
Enclynyst mekeli to thin obeissaunce,
Causer of joie, releser of penaunce,
And with thi stremes canst everithing discerne
Thurugh hevenli fire of love that is eterne;
“O blisful sterre, persant and ful of light,
Of bemys gladsome, devoider of derknes,
Cheif recounford after the blak nyght,
To voide woful oute of her hevynes,
Take nou goode hede, ladi and goddesse,
So that my bil your grace may atteyne,
Redresse to finde of that I me compleyne.
“For I am bounde to thing that I nold,
Freli to chese there lak I libertй.
And so I want of that myn herte would –
The bodi knyt, althoughe my thought be fre –
So that I most of necessitй
Myn hertis lust outward contrarie;
Thogh we be on, the dede most varie.
“Mi worship sauf, I faile eleccioun;
Again al right, bothe of God and Kynd,
There to be knit undir subjeccion,
Fro whens ferre ar both witte and mynde.
Mi thought gothe forthe, my bodi is behind,
For I am here and yonde my remembraunce:
Atwixen two so hang I in balaunce.
“Devoide of joie, of wo I have plentй.
What I desire, that mai I not possede,
For that I nold is redi aye to me,
And that I love forto swe I drede:
To my desire contrarie is my mede.
And thus I stond departid even on tweyn,
Of wille and dede ilaced in a chaine.
“For thoughe I brenne with fervence and with hete,
Within myn hert I mot complein of cold;
And thurugh myn axcesse thoghe I sweltre and swete,
Me to complein, God wot, I am not boold
Unto no wight; nor a woord unfold
Of al my peyne – allas the harde stond –
That hatter brenne that closid is my wounde.
“For he that hath myn herte feithfulli
And hole my luf in al honesti
Withoute chaunge, albeit secreli,
I have no space with him forto be.
O ladi Venus, consider nou and se
Unto the effecte and compleint of my bil,
Sith life and deth I put al in thi wil.”
And tho me thought the goddes did enclyne
Mekeli hir hede, and softli gan expresse
That in short tyme hir turment shulde fyne,
And hou of him for whom al hir distresse
Contynued had and al hir hevynes,
She would have joy, and of hir purgatorie
Be holpen sone and so forth lyve in glorie.
And seid: “Doughter, for the sadde trouthe,
The feithful menyng and the innocence
That planted bene withouten eny slouthe
In your persone, devoide of al defence,
So have atteyned to oure audience
That thurugh oure grace ye shul be wel relevyd,
I you bihote of al that hath you greved.
“And for that ye ever of oon entent,
Withoute chaunge of mutabilitй
Have in your peynes ben so pacient
To take louli youre adversitй,
And that so long thurugh the crueltй
Of old Saturne, my fadur, unfortuned:
Your wo shal nou no lenger be contuned.
“And thinkith this: within a litel while
It shal asswage and overpassen sone.
For men bi laiser passen meny a myle;
And oft also aftir a dropping mone,
The weddir clereth, and whan the storme is done,
The sonne shineth in his spere bright;
And joy awakith whan wo is put to flight.
“Remembreth eke hou never yit no wight
Ne came to wirship withoute some debate,
And folk also rejosshe more of light
That thei with derknes were waped and amate.
Non manis chaunce is alwai fortunate,
Ne no wight preiseith of sugre the swetnes
But thei afore have tasted bitternes.
“Grisilde was assaied atte ful,
That turned aftir to hir encrese of joye;
Penalope gan eke for sorowis dul,
For that her lord abode so long at Troie;
Also the turment there coude no man akoye
Of Dorigene, flour of al Britayne:
Thus ever joy is ende and fine of paine.
“And trusteth thus, for conclusioun,
The end of sorow is joi ivoide of drede.
For holi saintis thurugh her passioun,
Have heven iwonne for her soverain mede;
And plenti gladli foloith after nede.
And so, my doughter, after your grevauns
I you bihote ye shul have ful plesaunce.
“For ever of Love the maner and the guyse
Is forto hurt his servant and to wounde;
And when that he hath taughte hem his emprise,
He can in joi make hem to abounde
And sith that ye have in my lase be bound
Withoute grucching or rebellion,
Ye most of right have consolacioun.
“This is to sein – douteth never a dele –
That ye shal have ful possession
Of him that ye cherissh nou so wel
In honest maner withoute offencioun,
Bicause I cnowe your entencion
Is truli set, in parti and in al,
To love him best and most in special.
“For he that ye have chosen yow to serve
Shal be to yow such as ye desire
Withoute chaunge, fulli, til he sterve.
So with my brond I have him set afire,
And with my grace I shal him so enspire
That he in hert shal be ryght at your will,
Whethir ye list to save him or to spill.
“For unto yow his hert I shal so lowe,
Withoute spot of eny doubelnes,
That he ne shal escape fro the bowe –
Though that him list thurugh unstidfastnes –
I mene of Cupide that shal him so distres
Unto your hond, with the arow of gold,
That he ne shal escapen though he would.
“And sithe ye list of pitй and of grace
In vertu oonli his youthe to cherice,
I shal b’aspectes of my benygne face,
Make him t’eschwe evere synne and vice
So that he shal have no maner spice
In his corage to love thingis nwe:
He shal to you so plain be found and trwe.”
And whan this goodli faire, fressh of hwe,
Humble and benygne, of trouth crop and rote,
Conceyved had hou Venus gan to rwe,
On hir praier plainli to do bote,
To chaunge hir bitter atones into soote,
She fel on kneis of heigh devocion,
And in this wise bigan hir orisoun:
“Heighest of high, quene and emperice,
Goddes of love, of goode yit the best,
That thurugh your beautй, withouten eny vice,
Whilom conquered the appel at the fest
That Jubiter thurugh his hygh request
To al the goddesse above celestial
Made in his paleis most imperial:
“To you my ladi, upholder of my life,
Mekeli I thanke, so as I mai suffice,
That ye list nou with hert ententif,
So graciousli for me to devyse,
That while I live, with humble sacrifise,
Upon your auters, your fest yere bi yere,
I shal encense casten in the fire.
“For of youre grace I am ful reconsiled
From evere trouble unto joy and ease,
That sorois al from me ben exiled,
Sith ye, my ladi, list nou to appese
Mi peynes old and fulli my disease
Unto gladnes so sodeinli to turne
Havyng no cause from hennes forth to mourne.
“For sithin ye so mekeli list to daunte
To my servyce him that loveth me best,
And of your bountй so graciousli to graunte
That he ne shal varie, thoughe him list,
Wherof myn hert is fulli brought to rest:
For nou and ever, o ladi myn benygne,
That hert and wil to yow hole I resigne.
“Thanking yow with al my ful hert
That of youre grace and visitacioun
So humbeli list him to convert
Fulli to bene at my subjeccioun
Withoute chaunge or transmutacioun
Unto his lust – laude and reverence
Be to youre name and your excellence!
“This al and some and chefe of my request
And hool substaunce of myn hole entent,
Yow thankyng ever of your graunt and hest,
Both nou and ever, that ye me grace have sent
To conquere him that never shal repent
Me forto serve and humbli to please,
As final tresur to myn hertis ease.”
And than anon Venus cast adoune
Into hir lap braunchis white and grene
Of hawethorn that wenten enviroun
Aboute hir hed, that joi it was to sene,
And bade hir kepe hem honestli and clene:
Which shul not fade ne nevir wexin old
If she hir bidding kepe, as she hath told:
“And as these bowghis be both faire and swete,
Folowith th’effect that thei do specifie:
This is to sein, both in cold and hete,
Beth of oon hert and of o fantasie
As ar these leves the which mai not die
Thurugh no dures of stormes that be kene,
No more in winter then in somer grene.
“Right so b’ensaumple for wele or for wo,
For joy, turment, or for adversitй,
Wherso that fortune favour or be foo,
For povert, riches, or prosperitй,
That ye youre hert kepe in oo degrй
To love him best, for nothing that ye feine,
Whom I have bound so lowe undir youre cheine.”
And with that worde the goddes shoke hir hede
And was in peas and spake as tho no more.
And therwithal, ful femynyne of drede,
Me thoughte this ladi sighen gan ful sore
And saide again: “Ladi that maist restore
Hertes in joy from her adversitй,
To do youre will de mieulx en mieulx magrй.”
Thus ever sleping and dremyng as I lay
Within the tempil me thoughte that I sey
Gret pres of folk with murmur wondirful,
To bronte and showe (the tempil was so ful),
Everich ful bisй in his owne cause
That I ne may shortli in a clause
Descriven al the rithes and the gise;
And eke I want kunnyng to devyse
Hou som ther were with blood, encense, and mylk,
And som with floures sote and soft as silk,
And som with sparouis and dovues faire and white,
That forto offerin gan hem to delite
Unto the goddes with sigh and with praier
Hem to relese of that thai most desire.
That for the prese, shortli to conclude,
I went my wai for the multitude
Me to refressh oute of the prese allone.
And be myself (me thought) as I gan gone
Within the estres and gan awhile tarie,
I saugh a man that welke al solitarie,
That as me semed for hevines and dole
Him to complein, that he walk so sole,
Withoute espiing of eni othir wight.
And if I shal descryven him aright,
Nere that he hade ben in hevynes,
Me thought he was, to speke of semelynes,
Of shappe, of fourme, and also of stature,
The most passing that evir yit Nature
Made in hir werkis, and like to ben a man;
And therwithal, as I reherse can,
Of face and chere the most gracious
To be biloved, happi and ewrous.
But as it semed outward in his chere
That he compleyned for lak of his desire:
For by himself as he walk up and doune
I herd him make a lamentacioun,
And seid: “Allas, what thing mai this be?
That nou am bound that whilom was so fre
And went at laarge at myn eleccioun,
Nou am I caught under subjeccioun
Forto bicome a verre homagere
To god o’ love – where that, er I come here,
Felt in myn hert right nought of loves peine.
But nou of nwe within his fire cheyne
I am embraced, so that I mai not strive
To love and serve whiles that I am on lyve
The goodli fressh in the tempil yonder
I saugh right nou, that I hade wonder
Hou ever God, forto reken all,
Myght make a thing so celestial,
So aungellike on erthe to appere.
For with the stremes of hir eyen clere
I am iwoundid even to the hert
That fro the deth, I trow, I mai not stert.
And most I mervaile that so sodenli
I was iyolde to bene at hir merci,
Wherso him list, to do me lyve or deie.
Withoute more I most hir lust obeie
And take mekeli my sodein aventur.
For sith my life, my deth, and eke my cure
Is in hir hond, it woulde not availe
To gruch agein: for of this bataile
The palme is hires and pleinli the victorie.
If I rebelled, honour non ne glorie
I myghte not in no wise acheve.
Sith I am yold hou shuld I than preve
To gif a werre – I wot it wil not be –
Though I be loos, at laarge I mai not fle.
O god of love, hou sharp is nou thin arowe;
Hou maist thou nou so cruelli and narowe
Withoute cause hurte me and wound,
And take non hede my soris forto sound!
But lich a brid that fleith at hir desire
Til sodeinli within the pantire
She is icaught, though she were late at laarge,
A nwe tempest forcasteth now my baarge,
Now up, now doune, with wind it is so blowe,
So am I possid and almost overthrowe,
Fordrive in dirknes with many a sondri wawe.
Alas, when shal this tempest overdrawe
To clere the skies of myn adversitй?
The lode-ster, when I may not se,
It is so hid with cloudes that ben blake.
Alas, when wil this turment overshake?
I can not wit, for who is hurt of nwe
And bledith inward til he wex pale of hwe
And hath his wound unwarli fressh and grene,
He is not kouthe unto the harmes kene
Of myghti Cupide that can so hertis daunte,
That no man may in your werre him vaunte
To gete a pris, but oonli bi mekenes.
For there ne vaileth strif ne sturdines,
So mai I sain, that with a loke am yold
And have no power to stryve thoughe I would.
Thus stand I even bitwix life and deth
To love and serve while that I have breth,
In such a place where I dar not pleyn,
Lich him that is in turment and in pein,
And knoweth not to whom forto discure.
For there that I have hoolly set my cure,
I dar not wele, for drede and for daunger
And for unknowe, tellen hou the fire
Of Lovis brond is kindled in my brest.
Thus am I murdrid and slain at the lest
So preveli within myn owne thought.
O ladi Venus, whom that I have sought,
So wisse me now what me is best to do
That am distraught within myselfen so
That I ne wot what way forto turne,
Sauf be myself solein forto mourne
Hanging in balaunce bitwix Hope and Drede
Withoute comfort, remedie, or rede
For Hope biddith pursue and assay;
And Drede againward answerith and saith nai.
And now with Hope I am iset on loft,
But Drede and Daunger, hard and nothing softe,
Have overthrowe my trust and put adoune.
Nou at my laarge, nou feterid in prisone,
Nou in turment, nou in soverein glorie,
Nou in paradise and nou in purgatorie,
As man dispeired in a double werre:
Born up with Hope and than anon Daunger
Me drawith abak and seith it shal not be.
For whereas I, of myn adversitй,
Am hold somwhile merci to requere,
Than cometh Dispeire and ginneth me to lere
A nwe lessoun, to hope full contrarie
Thei be so divers thei would do me varie.
And thus I stond dismaied in a traunce,
For whan that Hope were likli me t’avaunce,
For drede I tremble and dar a woord not speke.
And if it so be that I not oute breke
To tel the harmes that greven me so sore,
But in myschef encrese hem more and more
And to be slain fulli me delite,
Then of my deth she is nothing to wite;
For but if she my constreint pleinli knwe,
Hou shuld she ever opon my paynis rwe?
Thus ofte tyme with Hope I am imevid
To tel hir al of that I am so greved,
And to ben hardi on me forto take
To axe merci – but Drede than doth awake
And thorugh wanhope answerith me again,
That bettir were, then she have disdeyne,
To deie at onys, unknow of eny wight.
And therewithal bitt Hope anon ryght
Me to bihold to prayen hir of grace,
For sith al vertues be portreid in hir face
It were not sitting that merci were bihind.
And right anone within myself I finde
A nwe ple brought on me with Drede,
That me so maseth that I se no spede,
Bicause he seith – that stoneith al my bloode –
I am so symple and she is so goode.
Thus Hope and Drede in me wil not ceasse
To plete and stryve myn harmes to encrese.
But at the hardest yit or I be dede,
Of my distresse sith I can no rede,
But stonde doumb, stil as eni stone,
Tofore the goddes I wil me hast anone
And complein withoute more sermon.
Though deth be fin and ful conclusioun
Of my request, yit I will assai.”
And right anon me thoughte that I say
This woful man (as I have memorie)
Ful lowli entre into an oratorie,
And knelid doun in ful humble wise
Tofore the goddes, and gan anon devyse
His pitous quarel with a doleful chere
Saying right thus, anone as ye shul here:
“Redresse of sorow, O Citheria,
That with the stremes of thi plesaunt hete
Gladest the contre of al Cirrea
Where thou hast chosen thi paleis and thi sete,
Whos bright bemes ben wasshen and oft wete
In the river of Elicon the wel:
Have nou pitй of that I shal here tell.
“And not disdeyneth of your benignitй,
Mi mortal wo, O ladi myn, goddes
Of grace and bountй and merciful pitй,
Benigneli to helpen and to redresse.
And though so be I can not wele expresse
The grevous harmes that I fele in myn hert,
Haveth nevertheles merci of my smert.
“This is to seyn: O clere hevens light
That next the sonne cercled have your spere,
Sith ye me hurten with your dredful myght
Bi influence of your bemys clere,
And that I bie your servise nou so dere,
As ye me brought into this maledie,
Beth gracious and shapeth remedie.
“For in yow hoolli lith help of al this case
And knowe best my sorow and al my peyne:
For drede of deth hou I ne der, allas,
To axen merci ones ne me compleyne.
Nou with youre fire hire herte so restreyne –
Withoute more, or I deie at the lest –
That she mai wete what is my requeste:
“Hou I nothing in al this world desire
But forto serve fulli to myn ende
That goodli fressh, so womanli of chere,
Withoute chaunge, while I have life and mynde;
And that ye wil me such grace send
Of my servyse, that she not disdeyne,
Sithen hir to serve I may me not restreyne;
“And sith that Hope hathe geve me hardines
To love hire best and never to repent,
Whiles that I lyve with al my bisenes
To drede and serve, though Daunger never assent.
And hereopon ye knowen myn entent,
Hou I have woid fulli in my mynde
To ben hir man though I no merci finde.
“For in myn hert enprentid is so sore
Hir shap, hir fourme, and al hir semelines,
Hir port, hir chere, hir goodnes more and more,
Hir womanhede and eke hir gentilnes,
Hir trouth, hir faith and hir kyndenes,
With al vertues iche set in his degrй:
There is no lak, save onli of pitй.
“Hir sad demening, of wil not variable,
Of looke benygne and roote of al plesaunce,
And exemplaire to al that wil be stable,
Discrete, prudent, of wisdom suffisaunce,
Mirrour of wit, ground of governaunce,
A world of beautй compassid in hir face,
Whose persant loke doth thurugh myn herte race;
“And over this secrй and wondre trwe,
A welle of fredome and right bounteuous,
And ever encresing in vertue nwe and nwe,
Of spech goodli and wonder gracious,
Devoide of pride, to pore not dispitous;
And if that I shortli shal not feyne,
Save opon merci I nothing can compleyne.
“What wonder than though I be with drede
Inli supprised forto axen grace
Of hir that is a quene of womanhed?
For wele I wot in so heigh a place
It wil not ben; therfor I overpace
And take louli what wo that I endure,
Til she of pitй me take unto hir cure.
“But oone avowe pleinli here I make:
That whethir so be she do me lyve or deye,
I wil not grucch but humbeli it take,
And thanke God and wilfulli obey.
For be my trouth myn hert shal not reneye,
For life ne deth, merci nor daunger,
Of wil and thought to ben at hir desire;
“To bene as trwe as ever was Antonyus
To Cleopatre while him lasted brethe;
Or unto Tesbй yunge Piramus
That was feithful found til hem departid dethe;
Right so shal I, til Antropos me sleithe,
For wele or wo hir faithful man be found,
Unto my last, lich as myn hert is bounde;
“To love as wel as did Achilles
Unto his last the faire Polixene;
Or as the gret, famous Hercules
For Dianyre that felt the shottes kene;
Right so shal I, y sei right as I mene,
Whiles that I lyve, hir bothe drede and serve,
For lak of merci though she do me sterve.
“Nou ladi Venus, to whom nothing unknowe
Is in the world, ihid ne not mai be –
For there nys thing nethir heigh ne lowe
Mai be concelid from your privetй –
Fro whom my menyng is not nou secrй,
But witen fulli that myn entent is trwe
And lich my trowth, nou on my peyne rwe.
“For more of grace than presumpcioun
I axe merci, and not of duetй,
Of louli humblesse, withoute offensioun,
That ye enclyne, of your benygnytй,
Your audience to myn humylitй
To graunte me that to you clepe and calle
Somdai relese yit of my paynes alle.
“And sith ye have the guerdon and the mede
Of al lovers pleinli in your hond,
Nou of your grace and pitй taketh hede
Of my distresse, that am undir your bond
So louli bound – as ye wele undirstond.
Nou in that place where I toke first my wound
Of pitй sufferith my helth mai be found.
“That lich as she me hurte with a sighte
Right so with helpe let hir me sustene,
And as the stremes of hir eyghen bright
Whilom myn hert with woundis sharp and kene
Thurugh perced have – and yit bene fressh and grene –
So as she me hurt, nou let hir me socoure,
Or ellis certein I mai not long endure.
“For lak of spech I can sey nou no more:
I have mater but I can not plein.
Mi wit is dulle to telle al my sore.
A mouth I have and yit for al my peyne,
For want of woordis I may not nou atteyne
To tell half that doth myn herte greve,
Merci abiding, til she me list releve.
“But this th’effecte of my mater finalle:
With deth or merci, reles forto finde.
For hert, bodi, thought, life, lust, and alle,
With al my reson and alle my ful mynde,
And five wittes, of oon assent I bind
To hir service withouten eny strife,
And make hir princesse of my deth or life.
“And you I prai of routh and eke pitй,
O goodli planet, O ladi Venus bright,
That ye youre sone of his deitй –
Cupid I mene – that with his dredful myght,
And with his brond, that is so clere of lighte,
Hir herte so to fire and to mark,
As ye me whilom brente with a spark:
“That evenlich and with the same fire,
She mai be het, as I nou brenne and melt,
So that hir hert be flaumed bi desire
That she mai knowe bi fervence hou I swelt.
For of pitй pleinli if she felt
The selfe hete that doth myn hert enbrace,
I hope of routhe she would do me grace.”
And therwithal Venus (as me thought)
Toward this man ful benygneli
Gan cast hir eyghe, liche as though she rought
Of his disease, and seid ful goodeli:
“Sith it is so that thou so humbelie
Withoute grucchyng oure hestis list obey,
Toward thin help I wil anon purvey.
“And eke my sone Cupide that is so blind,
He shal ben helping, fulli to perfourme
Your hole desire, that nothing behind
Ne shal be left: so we shal refourme
The pitous compleint that makith thee to mourne,
That she for whom thou soroist most in hert
Shal thurugh hir merci relese al thi smert
“Whan she seth tyme thurugh oure purveaunce.
Be not to hasti, but suffre alway wele.
For in abidyng thurugh lowli obeissaunce
Lithe ful redresse of al that ye nou fele,
And she shal be as trw as eny stele
To yowe allone, thurugh oure myght and grace,
Yif ye lust mekeli abide a litel space.
“But undirstondeth that al hir cherisshing
Shal ben groundid opon honestй,
That no wight shal thurugh evil compassing,
Demen amys of hir in no degrй.
For neither merci, routhe, ne pitй
She shal not have, ne take of thee non hede
Ferther then longith unto hir womanhede.
“Bethe not astoneid of no wilfulnes,
Ne nought dispeired of this dilacioun;
Lete reson bridel lust bi buxumnes,
Withoute grucching or rebellioun,
For joy shal folou al this passioun.
For who can suffre turment and endure
Ne mai not faile that folou shal his cure.
“For toforn all she shal thee loven best:
So shal I here withoute offencioun
Bi influence enspiren in hir brest,
In honest wise with ful entencioun,
Forto enclyne bi clene affeccioun
Hir hert fulli on thee to have routhe,
Bicause I know that thou menyst trouthe.
“Go nou to hir, where as she stant aside,
With humble chere and put thee in hir grace,
And al biforne late Hope be thi guide,
And thoughe that Drede woulde with thee pace,
It sitteth wel; but loke that thou arace
Out of thin hert wanhope and dispaire,
To hir presence er thou have repaire.
“And Merci first shal thi waie make,
And Honest Menyng aforn do thi message
To make Merci in hir hert awake;
And Secrenes, to further thi viage,
With Humble Port to hir that is so sage,
Shul menes ben – and I myself also
Shal thee fortune er thi tale be do.
“Go forthe anon and be right of goode chere,
For specheles nothing maist thou spede;
Be goode of trust and be nothing in were,
Sith I myself shal helpen in this nede;
For at the lest of hir goodlihed
She shal to thee hir audience enclyne,
And louli thee here til thou thi tale fyne.
“Fore wele thou wost, yif I shal not feine,
Withoute spech thou maist no merci have:
For who that wil of his prevй peine
Fulli be cured, his life to help and save,
He most mekeli oute of his hurtis grave
Discure his wound and shew it to his lech,
Or ellis deie for defaute of spech.
“For he that is in myschef rekeles
To sechen help, I hold him but a wrecch.
And she ne mai thin herte bring in peas
But if thi compleint to hir herte strecch.
Wouldist thou be curid and wilte no salve fecch?
It wil not be: for no wighte may atteyne
To come to blis if he lust lyve in peyne.
“Therfore at ones go in humble wise
Tofore thi ladi and louli knele adoun,
And in al trouth thi woordis so devyse
That she on thee have compassioun:
For she that is of so heigh renoun
In al vertues as quene and soverain,
Of womanhed shal rwe opon thi pein.”
And whan the goddes this lesson hade him told,
Aboute me so as I gan bihold,
Right for-astoneid I stode in a traunce,
To sein the maner and the countenaunce
And al the chere of this woful man,
That was of hwe deedli pale and wan,
With drede supprised in his owne thought,
Making a chere as that he roughte nought
Of life ne deth, ne what so him bitide.
So mych fere he hade on everй side,
To put him forthe forto tel his peyne
Unto his ladi, other to compleyne
What wo he felt, turment or disease,
What dedli sorou his herte dide sease –
For routhe of which his wo as I endite,
Mi penne I fele quaken as I write.
Of him I had so great compassioun,
Forto reherse his weymentacioun,
That wel unnethe though with my self I strive,
I want connyng his peynes to discryve.
Allas, to whom shal I for helpe cal?
Not to the Musis, for cause that thei ar al
Help of right in joi and not in wo,
And in maters that thei delite also,
Wherfore thei nyl directe as nou my stile,
Nor me enspiren – allas, the harde while.
I can no ferther but to Thesiphone
And to hir sustren forto helpe me,
That bene goddesses of turment and of peyne.
Nou lete youre teris into myn inke reyne,
With woful woordis my pauper forto blot,
This woful mater to peinte not, but spotte:
To tell the maner of this dredful man,
Upon his compleint, when he first bigan
To tel his ladi, when he gan declare
His hidde sorois and his evel fare
That at his hert constreyned him so sore,
Th’effecte of which was this withoute more:
“Princes of iouthe and flour of gentilesse,
Ensaumple of vertue, ground of curtesie,
Of beautй rote, quene and eke maistres
To al women hou thei shul hem gie,
And sothefast myrrour to exemplifie
The righte wei of port and womanhed,
What shal I sai of merci taketh hede:
“Biseching first unto youre heigh nobles,
With quaking hert of myn inward drede,
Of grace and pitй and nought of rightwisnes,
Of verrai routhe, to helpen in this nede.
That is to saie, O wel of goodlihed,
That I ne recch, though ye do me deie,
So ye list first to heren what I saie.
“The dredful stroke, the grete force and myght
Of god Cupide that no man mai rebel,
So inwardli thurughout myn herte right
Ipersid hath that I ne mai concele
Myn hidde wound, ne I ne may apele
Unto no grettir: this myghti god so fast
You to serve hath bound me to my last,
“That hert and al withoute strife ar yolde
For life or deth to youre servise alone,
Right as the goddes myghti Venus would.
Toforne hir mekeli when I made my mone,
She me constreyned, without chaunge, anone
To youre servise, and never forto feyne,
Whereso yow list to do me ease or peyne.
“So that I can nothing but merci crie
Of yow my ladi, and chaungen for no nwe,
That ye list goodeli tofore I deyghe,
Of verrey routhe opon my peynes rwe.
For be my trouthe, and ye the sothe knwe
What is the cause of myn adversitй,
On my distres ye would have pitй.
“For unto yow trwe and eke secrй
I wole be found to serve as I best can.
And therwithal as lowli in ich degrй
To yow allone, as evir yit was man
Unto his ladi, from the tyme I gan,
And shal so forthe, withouten eny slouthe
Whiles that I lyve, bi god and be my trouthe.
“For levyr I had to deien sodeinli
Than yow offend in any maner wise,
And suffre peynes inward priveli
Than my servise ye shuld as nou despise.
For I right nought wil asken in no wise
But for youre servaunt ye would me accepte,
And whan I trespace, goodli me correcte,
“And forto graunt of merci this praier:
Oonli of grace and womanli petй,
Fro dai to dai, that I myghte lere
Yow forto please, and therwithal that ye,
When I do mys, list for to teche me
In youre servyse hou that I mai amende
From hensforthe and nevyr yow offende.
“For unto me it doth inough suffise
That for youre man ye would me reseyve
Fulli to ben, as you list devyse,
And as ferforthe my wittes con conceyve,
And therewithal, lich as ye perseyve
That I be trwe, to guerdone me of grace,
Or ellis to punyssh aftir my trespace.
“And if so be that I mai not atteyne
Unto your merci, yit graunteth atte lest
In your service, for al my wo and peyne,
That I mai deighen aftir my bihest.
This is al and som the fine of my request:
Othir with merci your servant forto save
Or merciles that I mai be grave.”
And whan this benygne of hir entent trwe
Conceyved hath the compleint of this man,
Right as the fressh rodi rose new
Of hir coloure to wexin she bigan;
Hir bloode astonyed so from hir hert it ran
Into hir face, of femynynitй:
Thurugh honest drede abaisshed so was she
And humbelй she gan hir eighen cast
Towardis him of hir benygnytй,
So that no woord bi hir lippes past
For hast ne drede, merci nor pitй.
For so demeyned she was in honestй
That unavised nothing hir astert,
So mych of reson was compast in hir hert.
Til at the last of routhe she did abraide,
When she his trouthe and menyng dide fele,
And unto him ful goodli spake and seide:
“Of youre behest and of your menyng wele,
And youre servise so feithful everedel,
Which unto me so lowli now ye offre,
With al my hert I thanke yow of youre profir,
“That for as mych as youre entent is sette
Oonli in vertu, ibridelid under drede,
Ye most of right nedis fare the bette
Of youre request and the bettir spede.
But as for me, I mai of womanhede
No ferthir graunt to you in myn entent
Thanne as my ladi Venus wil assent.
“For she wele knowith I am not at my laarge
To done right nought but bi hir ordinaunce:
So am I bound undir hir dredful charge
Hir lust to obey withoute variaunce.
But for my part so it be plesaunce
Unto the goddes, for trouthe in your emprise,
I yow accepte fulli to my servyse.
“For she myn hert hath in subjeccioun
Which holi is youres and never shal repent,
In thought nor dede, in myn eleccioun:
Witnes on Venus that knoweth myn entent
Fulli to obei hir dome and jugement,
So as hir lust disposen and ordeyne,
Right as she knoweth the trouth of us tweyne.
“For unto the time that Venus list provyde
To shape a wai for oure hertis ease,
Bothe ye and I mekeli most abide
To take agrй and not of oure disease
To grucch agein, til she list to appese
Oure hidde wo, so inli that constreyneth
From dai to day and oure hertes peyneth.
“For in abiding of wo and al affray,
Whoso can suffre is founden remedie;
And for the best ful oft is made delay,
Er men be heled of hir maladie.
Wherfore as Venus list this mater to guie
Late us agreen and take al for the best,
Til her list set oure hertes bothe at rest.
“For she it is that bindeth and can constreyne
Hertes in oon, this fortunate planete,
And can relesen lovers of her peyne,
To turne fulli hir bitter into swete.
Nou blisful goddes, doun fro thi sterri sete
Us to fortune caste your stremes shene,
Like as ye cnow that we trouthe mene.”
And therwithal, as I myn eyghen cast
Forto perceive the maner of these twein,
Tofore the goddes mekeli as thei past,
Me thought I saw with a golden cheyne
Venus anon enbracen and constrein
Her bothe hertes in oon forto persever
Whiles that thei live and never to dessever.
Saiyng right thus with a benygne chere:
“Sith it is so ye ben undir my myght,
Mi wille is this, that ye my daughter dere
Fulli accepte this man as hit is right,
Unto your grace anon here in my sight,
That ever hath ben so louli you to serve:
It is goode skil your thank that he deserve.
“Your honour save and eke your womanhed
Him to cherissen it sittith you right wele,
Sith he is bound under hope and drede
Amyd my cheyne that maked is of stele.
Ye must of merci shape that he fele
In you som grace for his long servise,
And that in hast, like as I shal devyse.
“This is to sein, that ye taken hede
Hou he to you most faithful is and trwe
Of al your servauntis, and nothing for his mede
Of you ne askith but that ye on him rwe;
For he hathe woid to chaunge for no nwe,
For life nor deth, for joye ne for peyne:
Ay to ben yours, so as ye list ordeyne.
“Wherfore ye must, or ellis it were wrong,
Unto your grace fulli hym receyve
In my presence, bicause he hath so long
Holli ben youres, as ye may conceyve,
That from youre merci nou if ye him weyve
I wil myself recorden crueltй
In youre persone, and gret lak of pitй.
“Late him for trouth then finde trouth agein;
For long service guerdone him with grace,
And lateth pitй weie doun his pein.
For tyme is nou daunger to arace
Out of youre hert and merci in to pace;
And love for love woulde wele biseme
To geve agein, and this I pleinli deme.
“And as for him I wil bene his borow
Of lowlihed and bisй attendaunce:
Hou he shal bene, both at eve and morou,
Ful diligent to don his observaunce,
And ever awayting you to do plesaunce.
Wherfore, my sone, list and take hede
Fulli to obey as I shal thee rede.
“And first of al my wil is that thou be
Feithful in hert and constant as a walle,
Trwe, humble and meke, and therewithal secrй,
Withoute chaunge in parti or in al.
And for no turment that thee fallen shal,
Tempest thee not but ever in stidfastnes
Rote thin hert and voide doublenes.
“And forthermore have in reverence
Thes women al for thi ladi sake,
And suffre never that men do them offence,
For love of oon; but evermore undirtake
Hem to defend, whether thei slepe or wake,
And ay be redi to holden champartie
With alle tho that to hem have envie.
“Be curteis ay and lowli of thi spech
To riche and poure ai fressh and welbesein,
And ever bisie, weies forto sech
All trwe lovers to relese of her peyne,
Sith thou art oon; and of no wight have disdein,
For love hath pouer hertis forto daunt;
And never for cherisshing thee to mych avaunte.
“Be lusti eke, devoid of al tristesse,
And take no thought but ever be jocond,
And nought to pensif for non hevynes;
And with thi gladnes let sadnes ay be found;
When wo approcheth let myrth most habound,
As manhod axeth; and though thou fele smert,
Lat not to manie knowen of thin hert.
“And al vertues biseli thou sue,
Vices eschew for the love of oon;
And for no tales thin herte not remue:
Woorde is but winde that shal sone overgon.
Whatever thou here be doumb as eny ston,
And to answere to sone not thee delite,
For here she standeth that al this shal thee quite.
“And where thou be absent or in presence,
None othirs beautй lat in thin herte myne,
Sith I have hir gyve of beautй excellence
Above al othir in vertue forto shine;
And thenk that in fire hou men ar wont to fyne
This purid gold, to put it in assay:
So thee to preve, thou ert put in delay.
“But tyme shal come thou shalt for thi sufferaunce
Be wele apaide and take for thi mede
Thi lives joy and al thi suffisaunce,
So that goode hope alway thi bridel lede.
Lat no dispeire hindir thee with drede,
But ay thi trust opon hir merci ground,
Sith noon but she may thi sores sound.
“Eche houre and tyme, weke, dai and yere,
Be iliche feithful and varie not for lite;
Abide awhile and than of thi desire
The time neigheth that shal thee most delite.
And lete no sorou in thin herte bite
For no differring, sith thou shalt for thi mede
Rejoise in pees the floure of womanhede.
“Thenk hou she is this worldis sonne and light,
The sterre of beautй, flour eke of fairnes,
Bothe crop and rote, and eke the rubie bright
Hertes to glade itroubled with derknes,
And hou I have made hir thin hertes emperesse.
Be glad therfore to be undir hir bonde.
Nou come nere, doughter, and take him by the hond,
“Unto this fyne that after al the showres
Of his turment, he mai be glad and light
Whan thurugh youre grace ye take him to be youres
For evermore anon here in my syght.
And eeke also I wil, as it is ryght
Withoute more his langour forto lisse,
In my presence anon that ye him kisse:
“That here mai be of al youre olde smertis
A ful relese undir joy assured;
And that oo lok be of youre bothe hertes
Shet with my key of gold so wel depured,
Oonli in signe that ye have recured
Youre hole desire here in this holi place,
Within my temple nou in the yere of grace.
“Eternalli, be bonde of assuraunce,
The cnott is knytt, which mai not ben unbound,
That al the goddis of this alliaunce,
Saturne and Jove and Mars, as it is founde,
And eke Cupide that first you dide wounde,
Shal bere record and overmore be wreke
On which of you his trouthe first dothe breke,
“So that bi aspectes of hir ferse lokes,
Withoute merci shal falle the vengeaunce
Forto be raced clene out of my bokes,
On which of yow be founde variaunce.
Therfore atones setteth your plesauns
Fulli to ben, while ye have life and mynd,
Of oon accord unto youre lyves ende,
“That if the spirit of nufangilnes
In any wise youre hertis would assaile
To meve or stir to bring in doubilnes
Upon your trouthe to given a bataile,
Late not youre corage ne youre force fail,
Ne non assautes you flitten or remeve:
For unassaied men may no trouthe preve.
“For white is whitter if it be set bi blak,
And swete is swettir eftir bitternes,
And falshode ever is drive and put abak
Where trouthe is rotid withoute doubilnes.
Withoute prefe may be no sikirnes
Of love or hate; and therfor of yow too
Shal love be more, that it was bought with wo.
“As evere thing is had more in deintй,
And more of pris when it is dere bought;
And eke that love stond more in suretй
When it tofore with peyne, wo and thought
Conquerid was, first when it was sought;
And evere conquest hath his excellens
In his pursuite as he fint resistence:
“And so to yow more sote and agreable
Shal love be found – I do you plein assure –
Withoute grucching that ye were suffrable,
So low, so meke, so pacientli t’endure,
That al atones I shal nou do my cure
For nou and ever your hertis so to bynd,
That nought but deth shal the knot unbynd.
“Nou in this mater what shuld I lengir dwel?
Cometh at ones and do as I have seide.
And first, my doughter, that bene of bountй wele,
In hert and thought be glad and wele apaied
To done him grace that hath, and shal, obeid
Youre lustes ever; and I wole for his sake
Of trouthe to yow be bounde and undertake.”
And so forthwith in presence as thei stonde
Tofore the goddes, this ladi faire and wele
Hir humble servaunt toke goodli bi the honde,
As he toforne here mekeli did knele,
And kissed him after, fulfillyng everedele
Fro point to point in ful tristi wise,
As ye toforne have Venus herd devyse.
Thus is this man to joy and al plesaunce
From hevynes and from his peynes old
Ful reconsiled, and hath ful suffisaunce
Of hir that ever mente wel and would:
And in goode faith, thogh I telle shuld
The inward myrthe that dide hir hertis brace,
For al my life it were to lit a space.
For he hathe wonne hir that he loveth best,
And she to grace hathe take him of pitй;
And thus her hertis bethe bothe set in rest,
Withouten chaunge or mutabilitй,
And Venus hath of hir benygnetй
Confermed all (what shal I lenger tarie?)
This tweyn in oon, and nevere forto varie:
That for the joy in the temple aboute
Of this accord, bi gret solempnytй,
Was laude and honoure within and withoute
Geve unto Venus and to the deitй
Of god Cupide, so that Caliopй
And al hir sustren in hir armonye
Sone with her song the goddes magnyfie.
And al at ones with notes loude and sharpe
Thei did her honour and her reverence,
And Orpheus among hem with his harp
Gan strengis touch with his diligence,
And Amphioun that hathe such excellence
Of musike ay dide his bisynes
To please and queme Venus the goddes,
Oonli for cause of the affinitй
Betwix these twoo not likli to dessevere.
And evere lover of lough and heigh degrй
Gan Venus pray: fro thensforth and ever
That hool of hem the love may persevere,
Withouten ende in suche plite as thei gonne,
And more encrese that it of hard was wonne.
And so the goddes, hering this request,
As she that knew the clene entencioun
Of bothe hem tweyne, hath made a ful bihest:
Perpetuelli, by confirmacioun,
Whiles that thei lyve, of oon affeccioun
Thei shal endure (ther is no more to sein)
That neither shal have mater to compleyne.
“So ferforth ever in oure eternal se
The goddes have, in oure presscience,
Fulli devysed thurugh hir deitй,
And holi concludid bi hir influence,
That thurugh hir myght and juste providence
The love of hem, bi grace and eke fortune,
Withoute chaunge shal ever in oon contune.”
Of whiche graunt, the tempil enviroun,
Thurugh heigh confort of hem that were present,
Anone was gone with a melodius sowne,
In name of tho that trouth in love ment,
A ballade nwe in ful goode entent
Tofore the goddes with notes loude and clere,
Singyng right thus anon as ye shal here:
“Fairest of sterres that with youre persant light
And with the cherisshing of youre stremes clere
Causen in love hertes to ben light,
Oonli thurugh shynyng of youre glade spere:
Nou laude and pris, O Venus, ladi dere,
Be to your name, that have withoute synne
This man fortuned his ladi forto wynne.
“Willi planet, O Esperus so bright,
That woful hertes can appese and sterre,
And ever ar redi thurugh your grace and myght
To help al tho that bie love so dere,
And have power hertis to set on fire:
Honor to yow of all that bene hereinne,
That have this man his ladi made to wynne.
“O myghti goddes, daister after nyght,
Glading the morou whan ye done appere,
To voide derknes thurugh fresshnes of your sight,
Oonli with twinkeling of youre plesaunt chere:
To you we thank, lovers that ben here,
That ye this man – and never forto twyn –
Fortuned have his ladi forto wynne.”
And with the noise and hevenli melodie
Which that thei made in her armonye
Thurughoute the temple, for this manes sake,
Oute of my slepe anone I did awake,
And for astonied knwe as tho no rede.
For sodein chaunge, oppressid so with drede,
Me thought I was cast as in a traunce:
So clene away was tho my remembraunce
Of al my dreme, wherof gret thought and wo
I hade in hert and nyst what was to do,
For hevynes that I hade lost the sight
Of hir that I all the longe nyght
Had dremed of in myn avisioun.
Whereof I made gret lamentacioun
Bicause I had never in my life aforne
Sein none so faire, fro time that I was borne;
For love of whome, so as I can endite,
I purpose here to maken and to write
A litil tretis and a processe make
In pris of women, oonli for hir sake,
Hem to comende as it is skil and right,
For here goodnes, with al my fulle myght:
Praying to hir that is so bounteous,
So ful of vertue and so gracious
Of womanhed and merciful pitй,
This simpil tretis forto take in grй
Til I have leiser unto hir heigh renoun
Forto expoune my forseid visioun,
And tel in plein the significaunce,
So as it cometh to my remembraunce,
So that herafter my ladi may it loke.
Nou go thi wai, thou litel rude boke,
To hir presence, as I thee comaund,
And first of al thou me recomaund
Unto hir and to hir excellence,
And prai to hir that it be noon offence
If eny woorde in thee be myssaide,
Biseching hir she be not evel apaied;
For as hir list I wil thee efte correcte,
When that hir liketh againward thee directe:
I mene that benygne and goodli of hir face.
Nou go thi way and put thee in hir grace.