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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
The Courtier’s Life
By Alexander Barclay (1475?–1552)
 
(Second Eclogue)

CORNIX
SOME men deliteth beholding men to fight,
Or goodly knights in pleasaunt apparayle,
Or sturdie soldiers in bright harnes and male,
Or an army arrayde ready to the warre,
Or to see them fight, so that he stand afarre.        5
Some glad is to see those ladies beauteous
Goodly appoynted in clothing sumpteous:
A number of people appoynted in like wise
In costly clothing after the newest gise,
Sportes, disgising, fayre coursers mount and praunce,        10
Or goodly ladies and knightes sing and daunce,
To see fayre houses and curious picture,
Or pleasaunt hanging or sumpteous vesture
Of silke, of purpure or golde moste oriente,
And other clothing divers and excellent,        15
Hye curious buildinges or palaces royall,
Or chapels, temples fayre and substantial,
Images graven or vaultes curious,
Gardeyns and medowes, or place delicious,
Forestes and parkes well furnished with dere,        20
Cold pleasaunt streams or welles fayre and clere,
Curious cundites or shadowie mountaynes,
Swete pleasaunt valleys, laundes or playnes,
Houndes, and such other things manyfolde
Some men take pleasour and solace to beholde.        25
But all these pleasoures be much more jocounde,
To private persons which not to court be bounde,
Than to such other whiche of necessitie
Are bounde to the court as in captivitie;
For they which be bounde to princes without fayle        30
When they must nedes be present in battayle,
When shall they not be at large to see the sight,
But as souldiours in the middest of the fight,
To runne here and there sometime his foe to smite,
And oftetimes wounded, herein is small delite,        35
And more muste he think his body to defende,
Than for any pleasour about him to intende,
And oft is he faynt and beaten to the grounde,
I trowe in suche sight small pleasour may be founde.
As for fayre ladies, clothed in silke and golde,        40
In court at thy pleasour thou canst not beholde.
At thy princes pleasour thou shalt them only see,
Then suche shalt thou see which little set by thee,
Whose shape and beautie may so inflame thine heart,
That thought and languor may cause thee for to smart.        45
For a small sparcle may kindle love certayne,
But skantly Severne may quench it clene againe;
And beautie blindeth and causeth man to set
His hearte on the thing which he shall never get.
To see men clothed in silkes pleasauntly        50
It is small pleasour, and ofte causeth envy.
While thy lean jade halteth by thy side,
To see another upon a courser ride,
Though he be neyther gentleman nor knight,
Nothing is thy fortune, thy hart cannot be light.        55
As touching sportes and games of pleasaunce,
To sing, to revell, and other daliaunce:
Who that will truely upon his lord attende,
Unto suche sportes he seldome may entende.
Palaces, pictures, and temples sumptuous,        60
And other buildings both gay and curious,
These may marchauntes more at their pleasour see,
Men suche as in court be bounde alway to bee.
Sith kinges for moste part passe not their regions,
Thou seest nowe cities of foreyn nations.        65
Suche outwarde pleasoures may the people see,
So may not courtiers for lacke of libertie.
As for these pleasours of thinges vanable
Whiche in the fieldes appeareth delectable,
But seldome season mayest thou obtayne respite.        70
The same to beholde with pleasour and delite,
Sometime the courtier remayneth halfe the yere
Close within walls muche like a prisonere,
To make escapes some seldome times are wont,
Save when the powers have pleasour for to hunt,        75
Or its otherwise themselfe to recreate,
And then this pleasour shall they not love but hate;
For then shall they foorth most chiefely to their payne,
When they in mindes would at home remayne.
Other in the frost, hayle, or els snowe,        80
Or when some tempest or mightie wind doth blowe,
Or else in great heat and fervour excessife,
But close in houses the moste parte waste their life,
Of colour faded, and choked were with duste:
This is of courtiers the joy and all the lust.        85
 
CORIDON
What! yet may they sing and with fayre ladies daunce,
Both commen and laugh; herein is some pleasaunce.
 
CORNIX
Nay, nay, Coridon, that pleasour is but small,
Some to contente what man will pleasour call,
For some in the daunce his pincheth by the hande,        90
Which gladly would see him stretched in a bande.
Some galand seketh his favour to purchase
Which playne abhorreth for to beholde his face.
And still in dauncing moste parte inclineth she
To one muche viler and more abject then he.        95
No day over passeth but that in court men finde
A thousande thinges to vexe and greve their minde;
Alway thy foes are present in thy sight,
And often so great is their degree and might
That nedes must thou kisse the hand which did thee harm,        100
Though thou would see it cut gladly from the arme.
And briefly to speake, if thou to courte resorte,
If thou see one thing of pleasour or comfort,
Thou shalt see many, before or thou depart,
To thy displeasour and pensiveness of heart:        105
So findeth thy sight there more of bitternes
And of displeasour, than pleasour and gladnes.
 
 
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