Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. I. Chaucer to Donne
Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. I. Early Poetry: Chaucer to Donne
Extracts from The Dietary, or Rules for Health
By John Lydgate (c. 1370–c. 1451)
AND if so be that lechis done the faile, 1
  Thanne take good hede, and usë thyngës three,
Temperat diete, temperat travaile,
  Nat malicious for none adversité;
Meke in trouble, gladde in poverté;        5
  Riche with litel, content with suffisaunce;
Nat grucchyng, 2 but mery like thi degré:
  If phisyk lak, make this thy governaunce.
*        *        *        *        *
Fyre at morowe, and towards bed at eve,
  For mystis blak, and eyre 3 of pestilence;        10
Betime at masse, thow shalt the better preve,
  First at thi risyng do to God reverence,
Visite the poor with intyre diligence,
  On al nedy have thow compassioun,
And God shal sendë grace and influence,        15
  To encreasë the and thy possessioun.
Suffre no surfetis in thy house at nyght,
  Ware of rere-soupers, 4 and of grete excesse,
Of noddyng hedës, and of candel light,
  And sloth at morow, and slomberyng idelnes,        20
Whiche of al vices is chief porteresse;
  Voyde al drunklew, lyers, and lechours;
Of al unthriftës exile the mastres,
  That is to say, dyse-players, and haserdours.
After mete beware, make not to longë slepe,        25
  Hede, foote, and stomak preserve ay from cold;
Be not to pensyf, of thought take no kepe;
  After thy rent, mayntenë thyn houshold,
Suffre in tymë, in thi right be bold;
  Swerë none othis no man to begyle;        30
In thy youth be lusty, sad whan thow art olde.
Dyne nat at morwe aforne thyn appetite,
  Clere eyre and walkyng makith goode digestioun,
Between meles drynk nat for no froward delite,
  But 5 thurst or travaile yeve the occasion;        35
Over-salt mete doth grete oppressioun
  To feble stomakes, whan they can nat refrayne;
For nothing more contrary to theyr complexioun,
  Of gredy handes the stomak hath grete peyne.
Thus in two thinges standith al the welthe        40
  Of sowle and body, whoso lust to sewe, 6
Moderat foode gevith to man his helthe,
  And al surfetis doth from hym remeue, 7
And charité unto the sowle is dewe:
  This ressayt 8 is bought of no poticarye,        45
Of maister Antony, nor of maister Hewe,
  To all indifferent, richest diatorye. 9
Note 1. if physicians make thee fall ill. [back]
Note 2. murmuring. [back]
Note 3. air. [back]
Note 4. late suppers. [back]
Note 5. unless. [back]
Note 6. follow. [back]
Note 7. remove. [back]
Note 8. receipt, for recipe. [back]
Note 9. dietary. [back]

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