Verse > Geoffrey Chaucer > Complete Poetical Works
Geoffrey Chaucer (c. 1340–1400).  The Complete Poetical Works.  1894.
The Romaunt of the Rose
Fragment A
MANY men seyn that in sweveninges
Ther nis but fables and lesinges;
But men may somme swevenes seen,
Which hardely ne false been,
But afterward ben apparaunte.        5
This may I drawe to waraunte
An authour, that hight Macrobes,
That halt not dremes false ne lees,
But undoth us the avisioun
That whylom mette king Cipioun.        10
  And who-so sayth, or weneth it be
A Iape, or elles [a] nycetee
To wene that dremes after falle,
Let who-so liste a fool me calle.
For this trowe I, and say for me,        15
That dremes signifiaunce be
Of good and harme to many wightes,
That dremen in her slepe a-nightes
Ful many thinges covertly,
That fallen after al openly.        20
  Within my twenty yere of age,
Whan that Love taketh his corage
Of yonge folk, I wente sone
To bedde, as I was wont to done,
And fast I sleep; and in sleping,        25
Me mette swiche a swevening,
That lykede me wonders wel;
But in that sweven is never a del
That it nis afterward befalle,
Right as this dreem wol telle us alle.        30
Now this dreem wol I ryme aright,
To make your hertes gaye and light;
For Love it prayeth, and also
Commaundeth me that it be so.
And if ther any aske me,        35
Whether that it be he or she,
How [that] this book [the] which is here
Shal hote, that I rede you here;
It is the Romance of the Rose,
In which al the art of love I close.        40
  The mater fair is of to make;
God graunte in gree that she it take
For whom that it begonnen is!
And that is she that hath, y-wis,
So mochel prys; and ther-to she        45
So worthy is biloved be,
That she wel oughte of prys and right,
Be cleped Rose of every wight.
  That it was May me thoughte tho,
It is fyve yere or more ago;        50
That it was May, thus dremed me,
In tyme of love and Iolitee,
That al thing ginneth waxen gay,
For ther is neither busk nor hay
In May, that it nil shrouded been,        55
And it with newe leves wreen.
These wodes eek recoveren grene,
That drye in winter been to sene;
And the erthe wexeth proud withalle,
For swote dewes that on it falle,        60
And [al] the pore estat forget
In which that winter hadde it set,
And than bicometh the ground so proud
That it wol have a newe shroud,
And maketh so queynt his robe and fayr        65
That it hath hewes an hundred payr
Of gras and floures, inde and pers,
And many hewes ful dyvers:
That is the robe I mene, y-wis,
Through which the ground to preisen is.        70
  The briddes, that han left hir song,
Whyl they han suffred cold so strong
In wedres grille, and derk to sighte,
Ben in May, for the sonne brighte,
So glade, that they shewe in singing,        75
That in hir herte is swich lyking,
That they mote singen and be light.
Than doth the nightingale hir might
To make noyse, and singen blythe.
Than is blisful, many a sythe,        80
The chelaundre and the papingay.
Than yonge folk entenden ay
For to ben gay and amorous,
The tyme is than so savorous.
Hard is his herte that loveth nought        85
In May, whan al this mirth is wrought;
Whan he may on these braunches here
The smale briddes singen clere
Hir blisful swete song pitous;
And in this sesoun delytous,        90
Whan love affrayeth alle thing,
Me thoughte a-night, in my sleping,
Right in my bed, ful redily,
That it was by the morowe erly,
And up I roos, and gan me clothe;        95
Anoon I wissh myn hondes bothe;
A sylvre nedle forth I drogh
Out of an aguiler queynt y-nogh,
And gan this nedle threde anon;
For out of toun me list to gon        100
The sowne of briddes for to here,
That on thise busshes singen clere.
And in the swete sesoun that leef is,
With a threde basting my slevis,
Aloon I wente in my playing,        105
The smale foules song harkning;
That peyned hem ful many a payre
To singe on bowes blosmed fayre.
Iolif and gay, ful of gladnesse,
Toward a river I gan me dresse,        110
That I herde renne faste by;
For fairer playing non saugh I
Than playen me by that riveer,
For from an hille that stood ther neer,
Cam doun the streem ful stif and bold.        115
Cleer was the water, and as cold
As any welle is, sooth to seyne;
And somdel lasse it was than Seine,
But it was straighter wel away.
And never saugh I, er that day,        120
The water that so wel lyked me;
And wonder glad was I to see
That lusty place, and that riveer;
And with that water that ran so cleer
My face I wissh. Tho saugh I wel        125
The botme paved everydel
With gravel, ful of stones shene.
The medewe softe, swote, and grene,
Beet right on the water-syde.
Ful cleer was than the morow-tyde,        130
And ful attempre, out of drede.
Tho gan I walke through the mede,
Dounward ay in my pleying,
The river-syde costeying.
  And whan I had a whyle goon,        135
I saugh a GARDIN right anoon,
Ful long and brood, and everydel
Enclos it was, and walled wel,
With hye walles enbatailled,
Portrayed without, and wel entailled        140
With many riche portraitures;
And bothe images and peyntures
Gan I biholde bisily.
And I wol telle you, redily,
Of thilke images the semblaunce,        145
As fer as I have remembraunce.
  A-midde saugh I HATE stonde,
That for hir wrathe, ire, and onde,
Semed to been a moveresse,
An angry wight, a chideresse;        150
And ful of gyle, and fel corage,
By semblaunt was that ilke image.
And she was no-thing wel arrayed,
But lyk a wood womman afrayed;
Y-frounced foule was hir visage,        155
And grenning for dispitous rage;
Hir nose snorted up for tene.
Ful hidous was she for to sene,
Ful foul and rusty was she, this.
Hir heed y-writhen was, y-wis,        160
Ful grimly with a greet towayle.
  An image of another entayle,
A lift half, was hir faste by;
Hir name above hir heed saugh I,
And she was called FELONYE.        165
  Another image, that VILANYE
Y-cleped was, saugh I and fond
Upon the walle on hir right hond.
Vilanye was lyk somdel
That other image; and, trusteth wel,        170
She semed a wikked creature.
By countenaunce, in portrayture,
She semed be ful despitous,
And eek ful proud and outrageous.
Wel coude he peynte, I undertake,        175
That swiche image coude make.
Ful foul and cherlish semed she,
And eek vilaynous for to be,
And litel coude of norture,
To worshipe any creature.        180
  And next was peynted COVEITYSE,
That eggeth folk, in many gyse,
To take and yeve right nought ageyn,
And grete tresours up to leyn.
And that is she that for usure        185
Leneth to many a creature
The lasse for the more winning,
So coveitous is her brenning.
And that is she, for penyes fele,
That techeth for to robbe and stele        190
These theves, and these smale harlotes;
And that is routhe, for by hir throtes
Ful many oon hangeth at the laste.
She maketh folk compasse and caste
To taken other folkes thing,        195
Through robberie, or miscounting.
And that is she that maketh trechoures;
And she [that] maketh false pledoures,
That with hir termes and hir domes
Doon maydens, children, and eek gromes        200
Hir heritage to forgo.
Ful croked were hir hondes two;
For Coveityse is ever wood
To grypen other folkes good.
Coveityse, for hir winning,        205
Ful leef hath other mennes thing.
  Another image set saugh I
Next Coveityse faste by,
And she was cleped AVARICE.
Ful foul in peynting was that vice;        210
Ful sad and caytif was she eek,
And al-so grene as any leek.
So yvel hewed was hir colour,
Hir semed have lived in langour.
She was lyk thing for hungre deed,        215
That ladde hir lyf only by breed
Kneden with eisel strong and egre;
And therto she was lene and megre.
And she was clad ful povrely,
Al in an old torn courtepy,        220
As she were al with dogges torn;
And bothe bihinde and eek biforn
Clouted was she beggarly.
A mantel heng hir faste by,
Upon a perche, weyke and smalle;        225
A burnet cote heng therwithalle,
Furred with no menivere,
But with a furre rough of here,
Of lambe-skinnes hevy and blake;
It was ful old, I undertake.        230
For Avarice to clothe hir wel
Ne hasteth hir, never a del;
For certeynly it were hir loth
To weren ofte that ilke cloth;
And if it were forwered, she        235
Wolde have ful greet necessitee
Of clothing, er she boughte hir newe,
Al were it bad of wolle and hewe.
This Avarice held in hir hande
A purs, that heng [doun] by a bande;        240
And that she hidde and bond so stronge,
Men must abyde wonder longe
Out of that purs er ther come ought,
For that ne cometh not in hir thought;
It was not, certein, hir entente        245
That fro that purs a peny wente.
  And by that image, nygh y-nough,
Was peynt ENVYE, that never lough,
Nor never wel in herte ferde
But-if she outher saugh or herde        250
Som greet mischaunce, or greet disese.
No-thing may so moch hir plese
As mischef and misaventure;
Or whan she seeth discomfiture
Upon any worthy man falle,        255
Than lyketh hir [ful] wel withalle.
She is ful glad in hir corage,
If she see any greet linage
Be brought to nought in shamful wyse.
And if a man in honour ryse,        260
Or by his witte, or by prowesse,
Of that hath she gret hevinesse;
For, trusteth wel, she goth nigh wood
Whan any chaunce happeth good.
Envye is of swich crueltee,        265
That feith ne trouthe holdeth she
To freend ne felawe, bad or good.
Ne she hath kin noon of hir blood,
That she nis ful hir enemy;
She nolde, I dar seyn hardely,        270
Hir owne fader ferde wel.
And sore abyeth she everydel
Hir malice, and hir maltalent:
For she is in so greet turment
And hath such [wo], whan folk doth good,        275
That nigh she melteth for pure wood;
Hir herte kerveth and to-breketh
That god the peple wel awreketh.
Envye, y-wis, shal never lette
Som blame upon the folk to sette.        280
I trowe that if Envye, y-wis,
Knewe the beste man that is
On this syde or biyond the see,
Yit somwhat lakken him wolde she.
And if he were so hende and wys,        285
That she ne mighte al abate his prys,
Yit wolde she blame his worthinesse,
Or by hir wordes make it lesse.
I saugh Envye, in that peynting,
Hadde a wonderful loking;        290
For she ne loked but awry,
Or overthwart, al baggingly.
And she hadde [eek] a foul usage;
She mighte loke in no visage
Of man or womman forth-right pleyn,        295
But shette oon yë for disdeyn;
So for envye brenned she
Whan she mighte any man [y]-see,
That fair, or worthy were, or wys,
Or elles stood in folkes prys.        300
  SOROWE was peynted next Envye
Upon that walle of masonrye.
But wel was seen in hir colour
That she hadde lived in langour;
Hir semed have the Iaunyce.        305
Nought half so pale was Avaryce,
Nor no-thing lyk, [as] of lenesse;
For sorowe, thought, and greet distresse,
That she hadde suffred day and night
Made hir ful yelwe, and no-thing bright,        310
Ful fade, pale, and megre also.
Was never wight yit half so wo
As that hir semed for to be,
Nor so fulfilled of ire as she.
I trowe that no wight mighte hir plese,        315
Nor do that thing that mighte hir ese;
Nor she ne wolde hir sorowe slake,
Nor comfort noon unto hir take;
So depe was hir wo bigonnen,
And eek hir herte in angre ronnen,        320
A sorowful thing wel semed she.
Nor she hadde no-thing slowe be
For to forcracchen al hir face,
And for to rende in many place
Hir clothes, and for to tere hir swire,        325
As she that was fulfilled of ire;
And al to-torn lay eek hir here
Aboute hir shuldres, here and there,
As she that hadde it al to-rent
For angre and for maltalent.        330
And eek I telle you certeynly
How that she weep ful tenderly.
In world nis wight so hard of herte
That hadde seen hir sorowes smerte,
That nolde have had of hir pitee,        335
So wo-bigoon a thing was she.
She al to-dasshte hir-self for wo,
And smoot togider her handes two.
To sorwe was she ful ententyf,
That woful recchelees caityf;        340
Hir roughte litel of pleying,
Or of clipping or [of] kissing;
For who-so sorweful is in herte
Him liste not to pleye ne sterte,
Nor for to daunsen, ne to singe,        345
Ne may his herte in temper bringe
To make Ioye on even or morowe;
For Ioye is contraire unto sorowe.
  ELDE was peynted after this,
That shorter was a foot, ywis,        350
Than she was wont in her yonghede.
Unnethe hir-self she mighte fede;
So feble and eek so old was she
That faded was al hir beautee.
Ful salowe was waxen hir colour,        355
Hir heed for-hoor was, whyt as flour.
Y-wis, gret qualm ne were it noon,
Ne sinne, although hir lyf were gon.
Al woxen was hir body unwelde,
And drye, and dwyned al for elde.        360
A foul forwelked thing was she
That whylom round and softe had be.
Hir eres shoken fast withalle,
As from her heed they wolde falle.
Hir face frounced and forpyned,        365
And bothe hir hondes lorn, fordwyned.
So old she was that she ne wente
A foot, but it were by potente.
  The TYME, that passeth night and day,
And restelees travayleth ay,        370
And steleth from us so prively,
That to us seemeth sikerly
That it in oon point dwelleth ever,
And certes, it ne resteth never,
But goth so faste, and passeth ay,        375
That ther nis man that thinke may
What tyme that now present is:
Asketh at these clerkes this;
For [er] men thinke it redily,
Three tymes been y-passed by.        380
The tyme, that may not soiourne,
But goth, and never may retourne,
As water that doun renneth ay,
But never drope retourne may;
Ther may no-thing as tyme endure,        385
Metal, nor erthely creature;
For alle thing it fret and shal:
The tyme eek, that chaungeth al,
And al doth waxe and festred be,
And alle thing distroyeth he:        390
The tyme, that eldeth our auncessours
And eldeth kinges and emperours,
And that us alle shal overcomen
Er that deeth us shal have nomen:
The tyme, that hath al in welde        395
To elden folk, had maad hir elde
So inly, that, to my witing,
She mighte helpe hir-self no-thing,
But turned ageyn unto childhede;
She had no-thing hir-self to lede,        400
Ne wit ne pith in[with] hir holde
More than a child of two yeer olde.
But natheles, I trowe that she
Was fair sumtyme, and fresh to see,
Whan she was in hir rightful age:        405
But she was past al that passage
And was a doted thing bicomen.
A furred cope on had she nomen;
Wel had she clad hir-self and warm,
For cold mighte elles doon hir harm.        410
These olde folk have alwey colde,
Hir kinde is swiche, whan they ben olde.
  Another thing was doon ther write,
That semede lyk an ipocrite,
And it was cleped POPE-HOLY.        415
That ilke is she that prively
Ne spareth never a wikked dede,
Whan men of hir taken non hede;
And maketh hir outward precious,
With pale visage and pitous,        420
And semeth a simple creature;
But ther nis no misaventure
That she ne thenketh in hir corage.
Ful lyk to hir was that image,
That maked was lyk hir semblaunce.        425
She was ful simple of countenaunce,
And she was clothed and eek shod,
As she were, for the love of god,
Yolden to religioun,
Swich semed hir devocioun.        430
A sauter held she faste in honde,
And bisily she gan to fonde
To make many a feynt prayere
To god, and to his seyntes dere.
Ne she was gay, fresh, ne Iolyf,        435
But semed be ful ententyf
To gode werkes, and to faire
And therto she had on an haire.
Ne certes, she was fat no-thing,
But semed wery for fasting;        440
Of colour pale and deed was she.
From hir the gate [shal] werned be
Of paradys, that blisful place;
For swich folk maketh lene hir face,
As Crist seith in his evangyle,        445
To gete hem prys in toun a whyle;
And for a litel glorie veine
They lesen god and eek his reine.
  And alderlast of everichoon,
Was peynted POVERT al aloon,        450
That not a peny hadde in wolde,
Al-though [that] she hir clothes solde,
And though she shulde anhonged be;
For naked as a worm was she.
And if the weder stormy were,        455
For colde she shulde have deyed there.
She nadde on but a streit old sak,
And many a clout on it ther stak;
This was hir cote and hir mantel,
No more was there, never a del,        460
To clothe her with; I undertake,
Gret leyser hadde she to quake.
And she was put, that I of talke,
Fer fro these other, up in an halke;
There lurked and there coured she,        465
For povre thing, wher-so it be,
Is shamfast, and despysed ay.
Acursed may wel be that day,
That povre man conceyved is;
For god wot, al to selde, y-wis,        470
Is any povre man wel fed,
Or wel arayed or y-cled,
Or wel biloved, in swich wyse
In honour that he may aryse.
  Alle these thinges, wel avysed,        475
As I have you er this devysed,
With gold and asure over alle
Depeynted were upon the walle.
Squar was the wal, and high somdel;
Enclosed, and y-barred wel,        480
In stede of hegge, was that gardin;
Com never shepherde therin.
Into that gardyn, wel [y-]wrought,
Who-so that me coude have brought,
By laddre, or elles by degree,        485
It wolde wel have lyked me.
For swich solace, swich Ioye, and play,
I trowe that never man ne say,
As in that place delitous.
The gardin was not daungerous        490
To herberwe briddes many oon.
So riche a yerd was never noon
Of briddes songe, and braunches grene.
Therin were briddes mo, I wene,
Than been in alle the rewme of Fraunce.        495
Ful blisful was the accordaunce
Of swete and pitous songe they made,
For al this world it oughte glade.
And I my-self so mery ferde,
Whan I hir blisful songes herde,        500
That for an hundred pound nolde I,—
If that the passage openly
Hadde been unto me free—
That I nolde entren for to see
Thassemblee, god [it kepe and were!]—        505
Of briddes, whiche therinne were,
That songen, through hir mery throtes,
Daunces of love, and mery notes.
  Whan I thus herde foules singe,
I fel faste in a weymentinge,        510
By which art, or by what engyn
I mighte come in that gardyn;
But way I couthe finde noon
Into that gardin for to goon.
Ne nought wiste I if that ther were        515
Eyther hole or place [o]-where,
By which I mighte have entree;
Ne ther was noon to teche me;
For I was al aloon, y-wis,
Ful wo and anguissous of this.        520
Til atte laste bithoughte I me,
That by no weye ne mighte it be;
That ther nas laddre or wey to passe,
Or hole, into so fair a place.
  Tho gan I go a ful gret pas        525
Envyroning even in compas
The closing of the square wal,
Til that I fond a wiket smal
So shet, that I ne mighte in goon,
And other entree was ther noon.        530
  Upon this dore I gan to smyte,
That was [so] fetys and so lyte;
For other wey coude I not seke.
Ful long I shoof, and knokked eke,
And stood ful long and of[t] herkning        535
If that I herde a wight coming;
Til that the dore of thilke entree
A mayden curteys opened me.
Hir heer was as yelowe of hewe
As any basin scoured newe.        540
Hir flesh [as] tendre as is a chike,
With bente browes, smothe and slike;
And by mesure large were
The opening of hir yën clere.
Hir nose of good proporcioun,        545
Hir yën greye as a faucoun,
With swete breeth and wel savoured.
Hir face whyt and wel coloured,
With litel mouth, and round to see;
A clove chin eek hadde she.        550
Hir nekke was of good fasoun
In lengthe and gretnesse, by resoun,
Withoute bleyne, scabbe, or royne.
Fro Ierusalem unto Burgoyne
Ther nis a fairer nekke, y-wis,        555
To fele how smothe and softe it is.
Hir throte, al-so whyt of hewe
As snow on braunche snowed newe.
Of body ful wel wrought was she
Men neded not, in no cuntree,        560
A fairer body for to seke.
And of fyn orfrays had she eke
A chapelet: so semly oon
Ne wered never mayde upon;....
And faire above that chapelet        565
A rose gerland had she set.
She hadde [in honde] a gay mirour,
And with a riche gold tressour
Hir heed was tressed queyntely;
Hir sleves sewed fetisly.        570
And for to kepe hir hondes faire
Of gloves whyte she hadde a paire.
And she hadde on a cote of grene
Of cloth of Gaunt; withouten wene,
Wel semed by hir apparayle        575
She was not wont to greet travayle.
For whan she kempt was fetisly,
And wel arayed and richely,
Thanne had she doon al hir Iournee;
For mery and wel bigoon was she.        580
She ladde a lusty lyf in May,
She hadde no thought, by night ne day,
Of no-thing, but it were oonly
To graythe hir wel and uncouthly.
  Whan that this dore hadde opened me        585
This mayden, semely for to see,
I thanked hir as I best mighte,
And axede hir how that she highte,
And what she was, I axede eke.
And she to me was nought unmeke,        590
Ne of hir answer daungerous,
But faire answerde, and seide thus:—
‘Lo, sir, my name is YDELNESSE;
So clepe men me, more and lesse.
Ful mighty and ful riche am I,        595
And that of oon thing, namely;
For I entende to no-thing
But to my Ioye, and my pleying,
And for to kembe and tresse me.
Aqueynted am I, and privee        600
With Mirthe, lord of this gardyn,
That fro the lande of Alexandryn
Made the trees be hider fet,
That in this gardin been y-set.
And whan the trees were woxen on highte,        605
This wal, that stant here in thy sighte,
Dide Mirthe enclosen al aboute;
And these images, al withoute,
He dide hem bothe entaile and peynte,
That neither ben Iolyf ne queynte,        610
But they ben ful of sorowe and wo,
As thou hast seen a whyle ago.
  ‘And ofte tyme, him to solace,
Sir Mirthe cometh into this place,
And eek with him cometh his meynee,        615
That liven in lust and Iolitee.
And now is Mirthe therin, to here
The briddes, how they singen clere,
The mavis and the nightingale,
And other Ioly briddes smale.        620
And thus he walketh to solace
Him and his folk; for swetter place
To pleyen in he may not finde,
Although he soughte oon in-til Inde.
The alther-fairest folk to see        625
That in this world may founde be
Hath Mirthe with him in his route,
That folowen him alwayes aboute.’
  When Ydelnesse had told al this,
And I hadde herkned wel, y-wis,        630
Than seide I to dame Ydelnesse,
‘Now al-so wisly god me blesse,
Sith Mirthe, that is so fair and free,
Is in this yerde with his meynee,
Fro thilke assemblee, if I may,        635
Shal no man werne me to-day,
That I this night ne mote it see.
For, wel wene I, ther with him be
A fair and Ioly companye
Fulfilled of alle curtesye.’        640
And forth, withoute wordes mo,
In at the wiket wente I tho,
That Ydelnesse hadde opened me,
Into that gardin fair to see.
  And whan I was [ther]in, y-wis,        645
Myn herte was ful glad of this.
For wel wende I ful sikerly
Have been in paradys erth[e]ly;
So fair it was, that, trusteth wel,
It semed a place espirituel.        650
For certes, as at my devys,
Ther is no place in paradys
So good in for to dwelle or be
As in that GARDIN, thoughte me;
For there was many a brid singing,        655
Throughout the yerde al thringing.
In many places were nightingales,
Alpes, finches, and wodewales,
That in her swete song delyten
In thilke place as they habyten.        660
Ther mighte men see many flokkes
Of turtles and [of] laverokkes.
Chalaundres fele saw I there,
That wery, nigh forsongen were.
And thrustles, terins, and mavys,        665
That songen for to winne hem prys,
And eek to sormounte in hir song
These other briddes hem among.
By note made fair servyse
These briddes, that I you devyse;        670
They songe hir song as faire and wel
As angels doon espirituel.
And, trusteth wel, whan I hem herde,
Full lustily and wel I ferde;
For never yit swich melodye        675
Was herd of man that mighte dye.
Swich swete song was hem among,
That me thoughte it no briddes song,
But it was wonder lyk to be
Song of mermaydens of the see;        680
That, for her singing is so clere,
Though we mermaydens clepe hem here
In English, as in our usaunce,
Men clepen hem sereyns in Fraunce.
  Ententif weren for to singe        685
These briddes, that nought unkunninge
Were of hir craft, and apprentys,
But of [hir] song sotyl and wys.
And certes, whan I herde hir song,
And saw the grene place among,        690
In herte I wex so wonder gay,
That I was never erst, er that day,
So Iolyf, nor so wel bigo,
Ne mery in herte, as I was tho.
And than wiste I, and saw ful wel,        695
That Ydelnesse me served wel,
That me putte in swich Iolitee.
Hir freend wel oughte I for to be,
Sith she the dore of that gardyn
Hadde opened, and me leten in.        700
  From hennesforth how that I wroughte,
I shal you tellen, as me thoughte.
First, whereof Mirthe served there,
And eek what folk ther with him were,
Without fable I wol descryve.        705
And of that gardin eek as blyve
I wol you tellen after this.
The faire fasoun al, y-wis,
That wel [y-]wrought was for the nones,
I may not telle you al at ones:        710
But as I may and can, I shal
By ordre tellen you it al.
  Ful fair servyse and eek ful swete
These briddes maden as they sete.
Layes of love, ful wel sowning        715
They songen in hir Iargoning;
Summe highe and summe eek lowe songe
Upon the braunches grene y-spronge.
The sweetnesse of hir melodye
Made al myn herte in reverdye.        720
And whan that I hadde herd, I trowe,
These briddes singing on a rowe,
Than mighte I not withholde me
That I ne wente in for to see
Sir Mirthe; for my desiring        725
Was him to seen, over alle thing,
His countenaunce and his manere:
That sighte was to me ful dere.
  Tho wente I forth on my right hond
Doun by a litel path I fond        730
Of mentes ful, and fenel grene;
And faste by, withoute wene,
SIR MIRTHE I fond; and right anoon
Unto sir Mirthe gan I goon,
Ther-as he was, him to solace.        735
And with him, in that lusty place,
So fair folk and so fresh hadde he,
That whan I saw, I wondred me
Fro whennes swich folk mighte come,
So faire they weren, alle and some;        740
For they were lyk, as to my sighte,
To angels, that ben fethered brighte.
  This folk, of which I telle you so,
Upon a carole wenten tho.
A lady caroled hem, that highte        745
GLADNES, [the] blisful and the lighte;
Wel coude she singe and lustily,
Non half so wel and semely,
And make in song swich refreininge,
It sat hir wonder wel to singe.        750
Hir vois ful cleer was and ful swete.
She was nought rude ne unmete,
But couthe y-now of swich doing
As longeth unto caroling:
For she was wont in every place        755
To singen first, folk to solace;
For singing most she gaf hir to;
No craft had she so leef to do.
  Tho mightest thou caroles seen,
And folk [ther] daunce and mery been,        760
And make many a fair tourning
Upon the grene gras springing.
Ther mightest thou see these floutours,
Minstrales, and eek Iogelours,
That wel to singe dide hir peyne.        765
Somme songe songes of Loreyne;
For in Loreyne hir notes be
Ful swetter than in this contree.
Ther was many a timbestere,
And saylours, that I dar wel swere        770
Couthe hir craft ful parfitly.
The timbres up ful sotilly
They caste, and henten [hem] ful ofte
Upon a finger faire and softe,
That they [ne] fayled never-mo.        775
Ful fetis damiselles two,
Right yonge, and fulle of semlihede,
In kirtles, and non other wede,
And faire tressed every tresse,
Hadde Mirthe doon, for his noblesse,        780
Amidde the carole for to daunce;
But her-of lyth no remembraunce,
How that they daunced queyntely.
That oon wolde come al prively
Agayn that other: and whan they were        785
Togidre almost, they threwe y-fere
Hir mouthes so, that through hir play
It semed as they kiste alway;
To dauncen wel coude they the gyse;
What shulde I more to you devyse?        790
Ne bede I never thennes go,
Whyles that I saw hem daunce so.
  Upon the carole wonder faste,
I gan biholde; til atte laste
A lady gan me for to espye,        795
And she was cleped CURTESYE,
The worshipful, the debonaire;
I pray god ever falle hir faire!
Ful curteisly she called me,
‘What do ye there, beau sire?’ quod she,        800
‘Come [neer], and if it lyke yow
To dauncen, daunceth with us now.’
And I, withoute tarying,
Wente into the caroling.
I was abasshed never a del,        805
But it me lykede right wel,
That Curtesye me cleped so,
And bad me on the daunce go.
For if I hadde durst, certeyn
I wolde have caroled right fayn,        810
As man that was to daunce blythe.
Than gan I loken ofte sythe
The shap, the bodies, and the cheres,
The countenaunce and the maneres
Of alle the folk that daunced there,        815
And I shal telle what they were.
  Ful fair was Mirthe, ful long and high;
A fairer man I never sigh.
As round as appel was his face,
Ful rody and whyt in every place.        820
Fetys he was and wel beseye,
With metely mouth and yën greye;
His nose by mesure wrought ful right;
Crisp was his heer, and eek ful bright.
His shuldres of a large brede,        825
And smalish in the girdilstede.
He semed lyk a portreiture,
So noble he was of his stature,
So fair, so Ioly, and so fetys,
With limes wrought at poynt devys,        830
Deliver, smert, and of gret might;
Ne sawe thou never man so light.
Of berde unnethe hadde he no-thing,
For it was in the firste spring.
Ful yong he was, and mery of thought,        835
And in samyt, with briddes wrought,
And with gold beten fetisly,
His body was clad ful richely.
Wrought was his robe in straunge gyse,
And al to-slitered for queyntyse        840
In many a place, lowe and hye.
And shod he was with greet maistrye,
With shoon decoped, and with laas.
By druerye, and by solas,
His leef a rosen chapelet        845
Had maad, and on his heed it set.
  And wite ye who was his leef?
Dame GLADNES ther was him so leef,
That singeth so wel with glad corage,
That from she was twelve yeer of age,        850
She of hir love graunt him made.
Sir Mirthe hir by the finger hadde
[In] daunsing, and she him also;
Gret love was atwixe hem two.
Bothe were they faire and brighte of hewe;        855
She semede lyk a rose newe
Of colour, and hir flesh so tendre,
That with a brere smale and slendre
Men mighte it cleve, I dar wel sayn.
Hir forheed, frounceles al playn.        860
Bente were hir browes two,
Hir yën greye, and gladde also,
That laughede ay in hir semblaunt,
First or the mouth, by covenaunt.
I not what of hir nose descryve;        865
So fair hath no womman alyve....
Hir heer was yelowe, and cleer shyning,
I wot no lady so lyking.
Of orfrays fresh was hir gerland;
I, whiche seen have a thousand,        870
Saugh never, y-wis, no gerlond yit,
So wel [y]-wrought of silk as it.
And in an over-gilt samyt
Clad she was, by gret delyt,
Of which hir leef a robe werde,        875
The myrier she in herte ferde.
  And next hir wente, on hir other syde,
The god of Love, that can devyde
Love, as him lyketh it [to] be.
But he can cherles daunten, he,        880
And maken folkes pryde fallen.
And he can wel these lordes thrallen,
And ladies putte at lowe degree,
Whan he may hem to proude see.
  This God of Love of his fasoun        885
Was lyk no knave, ne quistroun;
His beautee gretly was to pryse.
But of his robe to devyse
I drede encombred for to be.
For nought y-clad in silk was he,        890
But al in floures and flourettes,
Y-painted al with amorettes;
And with losenges and scochouns,
With briddes, libardes, and lyouns,
And other beestes wrought ful wel.        895
His garnement was everydel
Y-portreyd and y-wrought with floures,
By dyvers medling of coloures.
Floures ther were of many gyse
Y-set by compas in assyse;        900
Ther lakked no flour, to my dome,
Ne nought so muche as flour of brome,
Ne violete, ne eek pervenke,
Ne flour non, that man can on thenke,
And many a rose-leef ful long        905
Was entermedled ther-among:
And also on his heed was set
Of roses rede a chapelet.
But nightingales, a ful gret route,
That flyen over his heed aboute,        910
The leves felden as they flyen;
And he was al with briddes wryen,
With popiniay, with nightingale,
With chalaundre, and with wodewale,
With finch, with lark, and with archaungel.        915
He semede as he were an aungel
That doun were comen fro hevene clere.
  Love hadde with him a bachelere,
That he made alweyes with him be;
SWETE-LOKING cleped was he.        920
This bachelere stood biholding
The daunce, and in his honde holding
Turke bowes two hadde he.
That oon of hem was of a tree
That bereth a fruyt of savour wikke;        925
Ful croked was that foule stikke,
And knotty here and there also,
And blak as bery, or any slo.
That other bowe was of a plante
Withoute wem, I dar warante,        930
Ful even, and by proporcioun
Tretys and long, of good fasoun.
And it was peynted wel and thwiten,
And over-al diapred and writen
With ladies and with bacheleres,        935
Ful lightsom and [ful] glad of cheres.
These bowes two held Swete-Loking,
That semed lyk no gadeling.
And ten brode arowes held he there,
Of which five in his right hond were.        940
But they were shaven wel and dight,
Nokked and fethered a-right;
And al they were with gold bigoon,
And stronge poynted everichoon,
And sharpe for to kerven weel.        945
But iren was ther noon ne steel;
For al was gold, men mighte it see,
Out-take the fetheres and the tree.
  The swiftest of these arowes fyve
Out of a bowe for to dryve,        950
And best [y]-fethered for to flee,
And fairest eek, was cleped BEAUTEE.
That other arowe, that hurteth lesse,
Was cleped, as I trowe, SIMPLESSE.
The thridde cleped was FRAUNCHYSE,        955
That fethered was, in noble wyse,
With valour and with curtesye.
The fourthe was cleped COMPANYE,
That hevy for to sheten is;
But who-so sheteth right, y-wis,        960
May therwith doon gret harm and wo.
The fifte of these, and laste also,
FAIR-SEMBLAUNT men that arowe calle,
The leeste grevous of hem alle;
Yit can it make a ful gret wounde,        965
But he may hope his sores sounde,
That hurt is with that arowe, y-wis;
His wo the bet bistowed is.
For he may soner have gladnesse,
His langour oughte be the lesse.        970
  Fyve arowes were of other gyse,
That been ful foule to devyse;
For shaft and ende, sooth to telle,
Were al-so blak as feend in helle.
  The first of hem is called PRYDE;        975
That other arowe next him bisyde,
It was [y]-cleped VILANYE;
That arowe was as with felonye
Envenimed, and with spitous blame.
The thridde of hem was cleped SHAME.        980
The fourthe, WANHOPE cleped is,
The fifte, the NEWE-THOUGHT, y-wis.
  These arowes that I speke of here,
Were alle fyve of oon manere,
And alle were they resemblable.        985
To hem was wel sitting and able
The foule croked bowe hidous,
That knotty was, and al roynous.
That bowe semede wel to shete
These arowes fyve, that been unmete,        990
Contrarie to that other fyve.
But though I telle not as blyve
Of hir power, ne of hir might,
Her-after shal I tellen right
The sothe, and eek signifiaunce,        995
As fer as I have remembraunce:
Al shall be seid, I undertake,
Er of this boke an ende I make.
  Now come I to my tale ageyn.
But alderfirst, I wol you seyn        1000
The fasoun and the countenaunces
Of al the folk that on the daunce is.
The God of Love, Iolyf and light,
Ladde on his honde a lady bright,
Of high prys, and of greet degree.        1005
This lady called was BEAUTEE,
[As was] an arowe, of which I tolde.
Ful wel [y]-thewed was she holde;
Ne she was derk ne broun, but bright,
And cleer as [is] the mone-light,        1010
Ageyn whom alle the sterres semen
But smale candels, as we demen.
Hir flesh was tendre as dewe of flour,
Hir chere was simple as byrde in bour;
As whyt as lilie or rose in rys,        1015
Hir face gentil and tretys.
Fetys she was, and smal to see;
No windred browes hadde she,
Ne popped hir, for it neded nought
To windre hir, or to peynte hir ought.        1020
Hir tresses yelowe, and longe straughten,
Unto hir heles doun they raughten:
Hir nose, hir mouth, and eye and cheke
Wel wrought, and al the remenaunt eke.
A ful gret savour and a swote        1025
Me thinketh in myn herte rote,
As helpe me god, whan I remembre
Of the fasoun of every membre!
In world is noon so fair a wight;
For yong she was, and hewed bright,        1030
[Wys], plesaunt, and fetys withalle,
Gente, and in hir middel smalle.
  Bisyde Beaute yede RICHESSE,
An high lady of greet noblesse,
And greet of prys in every place.        1035
But who-so durste to hir trespace,
Or til hir folk, in worde or dede,
He were ful hardy, out of drede;
For bothe she helpe and hindre may:
And that is nought of yisterday        1040
That riche folk have ful gret might
To helpe, and eek to greve a wight.
The beste and grettest of valour
Diden Richesse ful gret honour,
And besy weren hir to serve;        1045
For that they wolde hir love deserve,
They cleped hir ‘Lady,’ grete and smalle;
This wyde world hir dredeth alle;
This world is al in hir daungere.
Hir court hath many a losengere,        1050
And many a traytour envious,
That been ful besy and curious
For to dispreisen, and to blame
That best deserven love and name.
Bifore the folk, hem to bigylen,        1055
These losengeres hem preyse, and smylen,
And thus the world with word anoynten;
But afterward they [prikke] and poynten
The folk right to the bare boon,
Bihinde her bak whan they ben goon,        1060
And foule abate the folkes prys.
Ful many a worthy man and wys,
An hundred, have [they] don to dye,
These losengeres, through flaterye;
And maketh folk ful straunge be,        1065
Ther-as hem oughte be prive.
Wel yvel mote they thryve and thee,
And yvel aryved mote they be,
These losengeres, ful of envye!
No good man loveth hir companye.        1070
  Richesse a robe of purpre on hadde,
Ne trowe not that I lye or madde;
For in this world is noon it liche,
Ne by a thousand deel so riche,
Ne noon so fair; for it ful wel        1075
With orfrays leyd was everydel,
And portrayed in the ribaninges
Of dukes stories, and of kinges.
And with a bend of gold tasseled,
And knoppes fyne of gold ameled.        1080
Aboute hir nekke of gentil entaile
Was shet the riche chevesaile,
In which ther was ful gret plentee
Of stones clere and bright to see.
  Rychesse a girdel hadde upon,        1085
The bokel of it was of a stoon
Of vertu greet, and mochel of might;
For who-so bar the stoon so bright,
Of venim [thurte] him no-thing doute,
While he the stoon hadde him aboute.        1090
That stoon was greetly for to love,
And til a riche mannes bihove
Worth al the gold in Rome and Fryse.
The mourdaunt, wrought in noble wyse,
Was of a stoon ful precious,        1095
That was so fyn and vertuous,
That hool a man it coude make
Of palasye, and of tooth-ake.
And yit the stoon hadde suche a grace,
That he was siker in every place,        1100
Al thilke day, not blind to been,
That fasting mighte that stoon seen.
The barres were of gold ful fyne,
Upon a tissu of satyne,
Ful hevy, greet, and no-thing light,        1105
In everich was a besaunt-wight.
  Upon the tresses of Richesse
Was set a cercle, for noblesse,
Of brend gold, that ful lighte shoon;
So fair, trowe I, was never noon.        1110
But he were cunning, for the nones,
That coude devysen alle the stones
That in that cercle shewen clere;
It is a wonder thing to here.
For no man coude preyse or gesse        1115
Of hem the valewe or richesse.
Rubyes there were, saphyres, iagounces,
And emeraudes, more than two ounces.
But al bifore, ful sotilly,
A fyn carboucle set saugh I.        1120
The stoon so cleer was and so bright,
That, al-so sone as it was night,
Men mighte seen to go, for nede,
A myle or two, in lengthe and brede.
Swich light [tho] sprang out of the stoon,        1125
That Richesse wonder brighte shoon,
Bothe hir heed, and al hir face,
And eke aboute hir al the place.
  Dame Richesse on hir hond gan lede
A yong man ful of semelihede,        1130
That she best loved of any thing;
His lust was muche in housholding.
In clothing was he ful fetys,
And lovede wel have hors of prys.
He wende to have reproved be        1135
Of thefte or mordre, if that he
Hadde in his stable an hakeney.
And therfore he desyred ay
To been aqueynted with Richesse;
For al his purpos, as I gesse,        1140
Was for to make greet dispense,
Withoute werning or defence.
And Richesse mighte it wel sustene,
And hir dispenses wel mayntene,
And him alwey swich plentee sende        1145
Of gold and silver for to spende
Withoute lakking or daungere,
As it were poured in a garnere.
  And after on the daunce wente
LARGESSE, that sette al hir entente        1150
For to be honourable and free;
Of Alexandres kin was she;
Hir moste Ioye was, y-wis,
Whan that she yaf, and seide, ‘have this.’
Not Avarice, the foule caytyf,        1155
Was half to grype so ententyf,
As Largesse is to yeve and spende.
And god y-nough alwey hir sende,
So that the more she yaf awey,
The more, y-wis, she hadde alwey.        1160
Gret loos hath Largesse, and gret prys;
For bothe wys folk and unwys
Were hoolly to hir baundon brought,
So wel with yiftes hath she wrought.
And if she hadde an enemy,        1165
I trowe, that she coude craftily
Make him ful sone hir freend to be,
So large of yift and free was she;
Therfore she stood in love and grace
Of riche and povre in every place.        1170
A ful gret fool is he, y-wis,
That bothe riche and nigard is.
A lord may have no maner vice
That greveth more than avarice.
For nigard never with strengthe of hond        1175
May winne him greet lordship or lond.
For freendes al to fewe hath he
To doon his wil perfourmed be.
And who-so wol have freendes here,
He may not holde his tresour dere.        1180
For by ensample I telle this,
Right as an adamaunt, y-wis,
Can drawen to him sotilly
The yren, that is leyd therby,
So draweth folkes hertes, y-wis,        1185
Silver and gold that yeven is.
  Largesse hadde on a robe fresshe
Of riche purpur Sarsinesshe.
Wel fourmed was hir face and clere,
And opened had she hir colere;        1190
For she right there hadde in present
Unto a lady maad present
Of a gold broche, ful wel wrought.
And certes, it missat hir nought;
For through hir smokke, wrought with silk,        1195
The flesh was seen, as whyt as milk.
Largesse, that worthy was and wys,
Held by the honde a knight of prys,
Was sib to Arthour of Bretaigne.
And that was he that bar the enseigne        1200
Of worship, and the gonfanoun.
And yit he is of swich renoun,
That men of him seye faire thinges
Bifore barouns, erles, and kinges.
This knight was comen al newely        1205
Fro tourneyinge faste by;
Ther hadde he doon gret chivalrye
Through his vertu and his maistrye;
And for the love of his lemman
[Had] cast doun many a doughty man.        1210
  And next him daunced dame FRAUNCHYSE,
Arrayed in ful noble gyse.
She was not broun ne dun of hewe,
But whyt as snowe y-fallen newe.
Hir nose was wrought at poynt devys,        1215
For it was gentil and tretys;
With eyen gladde, and browes bente;
Hir heer doun to hir heles wente.
And she was simple as dowve on tree,
Ful debonaire of herte was she.        1220
She durste never seyn ne do
But that [thing] that hir longed to.
And if a man were in distresse,
And for hir love in hevinesse,
Hir herte wolde have ful greet pitee,        1225
She was so amiable and free.
For were a man for hir bistad,
She wolde ben right sore adrad
That she dide over greet outrage,
But she him holpe his harm to aswage;        1230
Hir thoughte it elles a vilanye.
And she hadde on a sukkenye,
That not of hempen herdes was;
So fair was noon in alle Arras.
Lord, it was rideled fetysly!        1235
Ther nas nat oo poynt, trewely,
That it nas in his right assyse.
Ful wel y-clothed was Fraunchyse;
For ther is no cloth sitteth bet
On damiselle, than doth roket.        1240
A womman wel more fetys is
In roket than in cote, y-wis.
The whyte roket, rideled faire,
Bitokened, that ful debonaire
And swete was she that it bere.        1245
  By hir daunced a bachelere;
I can not telle you what he highte,
But fair he was, and of good highte,
Al hadde he be, I sey no more,
The lordes sone of Windesore.        1250
  And next that daunced CURTESYE,
That preised was of lowe and hye,
For neither proud ne fool was she.
She for to daunce called me,
(I pray god yeve hir right good grace!)        1255
Whan I com first into the place.
She was not nyce, ne outrageous,
But wys and war, and vertuous,
Of faire speche, and faire answere;
Was never wight misseid of here;        1260
She bar no rancour to no wight.
Cleer broun she was, and therto bright
Of face, of body avenaunt;
I wot no lady so plesaunt.
She were worthy for to bene        1265
An emperesse or crouned quene.
  And by hir wente a knight dauncing
That worthy was and wel speking,
And ful wel coude he doon honour.
The knight was fair and stif in stour,        1270
And in armure a semely man,
And wel biloved of his lemman.
  Fair YDELNESSE than saugh I,
That alwey was me faste by.
Of hir have I, withouten fayle,        1275
Told yow the shap and apparayle;
For (as I seide) lo, that was she
That dide me so greet bountee,
That she the gate of the gardin
Undide, and leet me passen in.        1280
  And after daunced, as I gesse,
[YOUTHE], fulfild of lustinesse,
That nas not yit twelve yeer of age,
With herte wilde, and thought volage;
Nyce she was, but she ne mente        1285
Noon harm ne slight in hir entente,
But only lust and Iolitee.
For yonge folk, wel witen ye,
Have litel thought but on hir play.
Hir lemman was bisyde alway,        1290
In swich a gyse, that he hir kiste
At alle tymes that him liste,
That al the daunce mighte it see;
They make no force of privetee;
For who spak of hem yvel or wel,        1295
They were ashamed never-a-del,
But men mighte seen hem kisse there,
As it two yonge douves were.
For yong was thilke bachelere,
Of beaute wot I noon his pere;        1300
And he was right of swich an age
As Youthe his leef, and swich corage.
  The lusty folk thus daunced there,
And also other that with hem were,
That weren alle of hir meynee;        1305
Ful hende folk, and wys, and free,
And folk of fair port, trewely,
Ther weren alle comunly.
  Whan I hadde seen the countenaunces
Of hem that ladden thus these daunces,        1310
Than hadde I wil to goon and see
The gardin that so lyked me,
And loken on these faire loreres,
On pyn-trees, cedres, and oliveres.
The daunces than y-ended were;        1315
For many of hem that daunced there
Were with hir loves went awey
Under the trees to have hir pley.
  A, lord! they lived lustily!
A gret fool were he, sikerly,        1320
That nolde, his thankes, swich lyf lede!
For this dar I seyn, out of drede,
That who-so mighte so wel fare,
For better lyf [thurte] him not care;
For ther nis so good paradys        1325
As have a love at his devys.
  Out of that place wente I tho,
And in that gardin gan I go,
Pleying along ful merily.
The God of Love ful hastely        1330
Unto him Swete-Loking clepte,
No lenger wolde he that he kepte
His bowe of golde, that shoon so bright.
He [bad] him [bende it] anon-right;
And he ful sone [it] sette on ende,        1335
And at a braid he gan it bende,
And took him of his arowes fyve,
Ful sharpe and redy for to dryve.
Now god that sit in magestee
Fro deedly woundes kepe me,        1340
If so be that he [wol] me shete;
For if I with his arowe mete,
It [wol me greven] sore, y-wis!
But I, that no-thing wiste of this,
Wente up and doun ful many a wey,        1345
And he me folwed faste alwey;
But no-wher wolde I reste me,
Til I hadde al the [yerde in] be.
  The gardin was, by mesuring,
Right even and squar in compassing;        1350
It was as long as it was large.
Of fruyt hadde every tree his charge,
But it were any hidous tree
Of which ther were two or three.
Ther were, and that wot I ful wel,        1355
Of pomgarnettes a ful gret del;
That is a fruyt ful wel to lyke,
Namely to folk whan they ben syke.
And trees ther were, greet foisoun,
That baren notes in hir sesoun,        1360
Such as men notemigges calle,
That swote of savour been withalle.
And alemandres greet plentee,
Figes, and many a date-tree
Ther weren, if men hadde nede,        1365
Through the gardin in length and brede.
Ther was eek wexing many a spyce,
As clow-gelofre, and licoryce,
Gingere, and greyn de paradys,
Canelle, and setewale of prys,        1370
And many a spyce delitable,
To eten whan men ryse fro table.
And many hoomly trees ther were,
That peches, coynes, and apples bere,
Medlers, ploumes, peres, chesteynes,        1375
Cheryse, of whiche many on fayn is,
Notes, aleys, and bolas,
That for to seen it was solas;
With many high lorer and pyn
Was renged clene al that gardyn;        1380
With cipres, and with oliveres,
Of which that nigh no plente here is.
Ther were elmes grete and stronge,
Maples, asshe, ook, asp, planes longe,
Fyn ew, popler, and lindes faire,        1385
And othere trees ful many a payre.
  What sholde I telle you more of it?
Ther were so many treës yit,
That I sholde al encombred be
Er I had rekened every tree.        1390
  These trees were set, that I devyse,
Oon from another, in assyse,
Five fadome or sixe, I trowe so,
But they were hye and grete also:
And for to kepe out wel the sonne,        1395
The croppes were so thikke y-ronne,
And every braunch in other knet,
And ful of grene leves set,
That sonne mighte noon descende,
Lest [it] the tendre grasses shende.        1400
Ther mighte men does and roes y-see,
And of squirels ful greet plentee,
From bough to bough alwey leping.
Conies ther were also playing,
That comen out of hir claperes        1405
Of sondry colours and maneres,
And maden many a turneying
Upon the fresshe gras springing.
  In places saw I WELLES there,
In whiche ther no frogges were,        1410
And fair in shadwe was every welle;
But I ne can the nombre telle
Of stremes smale, that by devys
Mirthe had don come through condys,
Of which the water, in renning,        1415
Gan make a noyse ful lyking.
  About the brinkes of thise welles,
And by the stremes over-al elles
Sprang up the gras, as thikke y-set
And softe as any veluët,        1420
On which men mighte his lemman leye,
As on a fetherbed, to pleye,
For therthe was ful softe and swete.
Through moisture of the welle wete
Sprang up the sote grene gras,        1425
As fair, as thikke, as mister was.
But muche amended it the place,
That therthe was of swich a grace
That it of floures had plente,
That both in somer and winter be.        1430
  Ther sprang the violete al newe,
And fresshe pervinke, riche of hewe,
And floures yelowe, whyte, and rede;
Swich plentee grew ther never in mede.
Ful gay was al the ground, and queynt,        1435
And poudred, as men had it peynt,
With many a fresh and sondry flour,
That casten up ful good savour.
  I wol not longe holde you in fable
Of al this gardin delitable.        1440
I moot my tonge stinten nede,
For I ne may, withouten drede,
Naught tellen you the beautee al,
Ne half the bountee therewithal.
  I wente on right honde and on left        1445
Aboute the place; it was not left,
Til I hadde al the [yerde in] been,
In the estres that men mighte seen.
And thus whyle I wente in my pley,
The God of Love me folowed ay,        1450
Right as an hunter can abyde
The beste, til he seeth his tyde
To shete, at good mes, to the dere,
Whan that him nedeth go no nere.
  And so befil, I rested me        1455
Besyde a welle, under a tree,
Which tree in Fraunce men calle a pyn.
But, sith the tyme of king Pepyn,
Ne grew ther tree in mannes sighte
So fair, ne so wel woxe in highte;        1460
In al that yerde so high was noon.
And springing in a marble-stoon
Had nature set, the sothe to telle,
Under that pyn-tree a welle.
And on the border, al withoute,        1465
Was writen, in the stone aboute,
Lettres smale, that seyden thus,
‘Here starf the faire Narcisus.’
  NARCISUS was a bachelere,
That Love had caught in his daungere,        1470
And in his net gan him so streyne,
And dide him so to wepe and pleyne,
That nede him muste his lyf forgo.
For a fair lady, hight Echo,
Him loved over any creature,        1475
And gan for him swich peyne endure,
That on a tyme she him tolde,
That, if he hir loven nolde,
That hir behoved nedes dye,
Ther lay non other remedye.        1480
But natheles, for his beautee,
So fiers and daungerous was he,
That he nolde graunten hir asking,
For weping, ne for fair praying.
And whan she herde him werne hir so,        1485
She hadde in herte so gret wo,
And took it in so gret dispyt,
That she, withoute more respyt,
Was deed anoon. But, er she deyde,
Ful pitously to god she preyde,        1490
That proude-herted Narcisus,
That was in love so daungerous,
Mighte on a day ben hampred so
For love, and been so hoot for wo,
That never he mighte Ioye atteyne;        1495
Than shulde he fele in every veyne
What sorowe trewe lovers maken,
That been so vilaynsly forsaken.
  This prayer was but resonable,
Therefor god held it ferme and stable:        1500
For Narcisus, shortly to telle,
By aventure com to that welle
To reste him in that shadowing
A day, whan he com fro hunting.
This Narcisus had suffred paynes        1505
For renning alday in the playnes,
And was for thurst in greet distresse
Of hete, and of his werinesse
That hadde his breeth almost binomen.
Whan he was to that welle y-comen,        1510
That shadwed was with braunches grene,
He thoughte of thilke water shene
To drinke and fresshe him wel withalle;
And doun on knees he gan to falle,
And forth his heed and nekke out-straughte        1515
To drinken of that welle a draughte.
And in the water anoon was sene
His nose, his mouth, his yën shene,
And he ther-of was al abasshed;
His owne shadowe had him bitrasshed.        1520
For wel wende he the forme see
Of a child of greet beautee.
Wel couthe Love him wreke tho
Of daunger and of pryde also,
That Narcisus somtyme him bere.        1525
He quitte him wel his guerdon there;
For he so musede in the welle,
That, shortly al the sothe to telle,
He lovede his owne shadowe so,
That atte laste he starf for wo.        1530
For whan he saugh that he his wille
Mighte in no maner wey fulfille,
And that he was so faste caught
That he him couthe comfort naught,
He loste his wit right in that place,        1535
And deyde within a litel space.
And thus his warisoun he took
For the lady that he forsook.
  Ladyes, I preye ensample taketh,
Ye that ayeins your love mistaketh:        1540
For if hir deeth be yow to wyte,
God can ful wel your whyle quyte.
  Whan that this lettre, of whiche I telle,
Had taught me that it was the welle
Of Narcisus in his beautee,        1545
I gan anoon withdrawe me,
Whan it fel in my remembraunce,
That him bitidde swich mischaunce.
But at the laste than thoughte I,
That scatheles, ful sikerly,        1550
I mighte unto THE WELLE go.
Wherof shulde I abasshen so?
Unto the welle than wente I me,
And doun I louted for to see
The clere water in the stoon,        1555
And eek the gravel, which that shoon
Down in the botme, as silver fyn;
For of the welle, this is the fyn,
In world is noon so cleer of hewe.
The water is ever fresh and newe        1560
That welmeth up with wawes brighte
The mountance of two finger highte.
Abouten it is gras springing,
For moiste so thikke and wel lyking,
That it ne may in winter dye,        1565
No more than may the see be drye.
  Down at the botme set saw I
Two cristal stones craftely
In thilke fresshe and faire welle.
But o thing soothly dar I telle,        1570
That ye wol holde a greet mervayle
Whan it is told, withouten fayle.
For whan the sonne, cleer in sighte,
Cast in that welle his bemes brighte,
And that the heet descended is,        1575
Than taketh the cristal stoon, y-wis,
Agayn the sonne an hundred hewes,
Blewe, yelowe, and rede, that fresh and newe is.
Yit hath the merveilous cristal
Swich strengthe, that the place overal,        1580
Bothe fowl and tree, and leves grene,
And al the yerd in it is sene.
And for to doon you understonde,
To make ensample wol I fonde;
Right as a mirour openly        1585
Sheweth al thing that stant therby,
As wel the colour as the figure,
Withouten any coverture;
Right so the cristal stoon, shyning,
Withouten any disceyving,        1590
The estres of the yerde accuseth
To him that in the water museth;
For ever, in which half that he be,
He may wel half the gardin see;
And if he turne, he may right wel        1595
Seen the remenaunt everydel.
For ther is noon so litel thing
So hid, ne closed with shitting,
That it ne is sene, as though it were
Peynted in the cristal there.        1600
  This is the mirour perilous,
In which the proude Narcisus
Saw al his face fair and bright,
That made him sith to lye upright.
For who-so loke in that mirour,        1605
Ther may no-thing ben his socour
That he ne shal ther seen som thing
That shal him lede into [loving].
Ful many a worthy man hath it
Y-blent; for folk of grettest wit        1610
Ben sone caught here and awayted;
Withouten respyt been they bayted.
Heer comth to folk of-newe rage,
Heer chaungeth many wight corage;
Heer lyth no reed ne wit therto;        1615
For Venus sone, daun Cupido,
Hath sowen there of love the seed,
That help ne lyth ther noon, ne reed,
So cercleth it the welle aboute.
His ginnes hath he set withoute        1620
Right for to cacche in his panteres
These damoysels and bacheleres.
Love wil noon other bridde cacche,
Though he sette either net or lacche.
And for the seed that heer was sowen,        1625
This welle is cleped, as wel is knowen,
The Welle of Love, of verray right,
Of which ther hath ful many a wight
Spoke in bokes dyversely.
But they shulle never so verily        1630
Descripcioun of the welle here,
Ne eek the sothe of this matere,
As ye shulle, whan I have undo
The craft that hir bilongeth to.
  Alway me lyked for to dwelle,        1635
To seen the cristal in the welle,
That shewed me ful openly
A thousand thinges faste by.
But I may saye, in sory houre
Stood I to loken or to poure;        1640
For sithen [have] I sore syked,
That mirour hath me now entryked.
But hadde I first knowen in my wit
The vertue and [the] strengthe of it,
I nolde not have mused there;        1645
Me hadde bet ben elles-where;
For in the snare I fel anoon,
That hath bitraisshed many oon.
  In thilke mirour saw I tho,
Among a thousand thinges mo,        1650
A ROSER charged ful of roses,
That with an hegge aboute enclos is.
Tho had I swich lust and envye,
That, for Parys ne for Pavye,
Nolde I have left to goon and see        1655
Ther grettest hepe of roses be.
Whan I was with this rage hent,
That caught hath many a man and shent,
Toward the roser gan I go.
And whan I was not fer therfro,        1660
The savour of the roses swote
Me smoot right to the herte rote,
As I hadde al embawmed [be.]
And if I ne hadde endouted me
To have ben hated or assailed,        1665
My thankes, wolde I not have failed
To pulle a rose of al that route
To beren in myn honde aboute,
And smellen to it wher I wente;
But ever I dredde me to repente,        1670
And lest it greved or for-thoughte
The lord that thilke gardyn wroughte.
Of roses were ther gret woon,
So faire wexe never in roon.
Of knoppes clos, some saw I there,        1675
And some wel beter woxen were;
And some ther been of other moysoun,
That drowe nigh to hir sesoun,
And spedde hem faste for to sprede;
I love wel swiche roses rede;        1680
For brode roses, and open also,
Ben passed in a day or two;
But knoppes wilen fresshe be
Two dayes atte leest, or three.
The knoppes gretly lyked me,        1685
For fairer may ther no man see.
Who-so mighte haven oon of alle,
It oughte him been ful leef withalle.
Mighte I [a] gerlond of hem geten,
For no richesse I wolde it leten.        1690
  Among THE KNOPPES I chees oon
So fair, that of the remenaunt noon
Ne preyse I half so wel as it,
Whan I avyse it in my wit.
For it so wel was enlumyned        1695
With colour reed, as wel [y]-fyned
As nature couthe it make faire.
And it had leves wel foure paire,
That Kinde had set through his knowing
Aboute the rede rose springing.        1700
The stalke was as risshe right,
And theron stood the knoppe upright,
That it ne bowed upon no syde.
The swote smelle sprong so wyde
That it dide al the place aboute—        1705

Shakespeare · Bible · Strunk · Anatomy · Nonfiction · Quotations · Reference · Fiction · Poetry
© 1993–2020 · [Top 150] · Subjects · Titles · Authors · World Lit · Free Essays · Cookie Settings