Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. I. Chaucer to Donne
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Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. I. Early Poetry: Chaucer to Donne
 
Extracts from Confessio Amantis: Prologue
By John Gower (1325?–1408)
 
Opening of the Original Prologue to the ‘Confessio Amantis’

OF hem, that writen us to-fore,
The bokës dwelle, and we therfore
Ben taught of that was writen tho.
Forthy 1 good is, that we also
In oure time amonge us here        5
Do write of-newë some matere
Ensampled of the oldë wise,
So that it might in suche a wise,
Whan we be dede and elleswhere,
Belevë 2 to the worldës ere        10
In timë comend 3 after this.
But for men sain, and soth it is,
That who that al of wisdom writ,
It dulleth ofte a mannes wit
To hem that shall it al day rede,        15
For thilkë cause, if that ye rede,
I woldë go the middel wey
And write a boke betwene the twey,
Somwhat of lust, 4 somwhat of lore,
That of the lasse or of the more        20
Som man may like of that I write.
And for that fewë men endite
In oure Englisshe, I thenkë make
A bok for king Richardës sake,
To whom belongeth my legeaunce        25
With all min hertes obeisaunce,
In al that ever a legë man
Unto his king may don or can.
So ferforth I me recommaunde
To him, which all me may commaunde,        30
Preiend 5 unto the highë regne,
Which causeth every king to regne,
That his coronë longë stonde.
  I thenke, and have it understonde,
As it befell upon a tide,        35
As thing, which shuldë tho betide,
Under the town of newë Troy,
Which tok of Brute his firstë joy,
In Themsë, whan it was flowend;
As I by botë cam rowend,        40
So as fortune her time sette,
My legë lord perchaunce I mette,
And so befell, as I came nigh,
Out of my bote, whan he me sigh, 6
He bad me come into his barge.        45
And whan I was with him at large,
Amongës other thingës said,
He hath this charge upon me laid
And bad me do my besinesse,
That to his highë worthynesse        50
Some newë thing I shuldë boke,
That he himself it mightë loke
After the forme of my writing.
And thus upon his commaunding
Min herte is well the morë glad        55
To writë so as he me bad;
And eke my fere is well the lasse,
That non envië shall compasse;
Without a resonable wite 7
To feigne and blamë that I write.        60
 
Note 1. Therefore. [back]
Note 2. remain. [back]
Note 3. coming. [back]
Note 4. pleasure. [back]
Note 5. praying. [back]
Note 6. saw. [back]
Note 7. cause of censure. [back]
 
 
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