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Upon my trouthe I sey yow feithfully,
Your eyen two wol slee me sodenly,
To whom be yeve praise, honour, and gloriė.
Sir Thomas Clanvowe
Fl. c. 1400
THE CUCKOO AND THE NIGHTINGALE
(c. 1405) The god of love, a! benedicite! How mighty and how great a lord is he!
For he can make of lowė heartės hye,
And of hye low, and likė for to dye,
And of the wholė, he can makė seke;
For he can make of wisé folk full nice,
And eke in lyther; folk destroyen vice; And proudė heartės he can make agrysė.* Shortly, all that e'er he wills he may; Ageinėss him there dare no wight say nay.
For he can glad and grievė whom him liketh;
And whom he will, he laugheth or he syketh; And most his might he showeth ever in May. 20 For every trewė gentle heartė free That with him is, or thinketh for to be,
Ageinės May now shall have some stirring,
Either to joy, or allės to mourning,
That bringeth into heartės rémembráunce
A kind of easė, mingled with greváunce, And lusty thoughtės fullė of longing. . .
THE TESTAMENT OF JOHN LYDGATE
(From Testamentum Johannis Lydgate) Midst of a cloister, painted on a wall, I saw a crucifix with wounds not small, With this word VIDE, written there beside, “Behold my meekness, Child, and learn ihy
pride." The which word when I came to understand,
In my last agė taking the sentence, Thinking thereon, my pen I took in hand, And straightway wrote with humble rever
ence, On this word vide with much diligence, In memory of Christės passioun
This little song, this compilatioun. ... “Turn home again, thy sin do thou forsake, 867
Behold and see if aught be left behind;
Give me thy heart and be no more unkind;
My blood I gave for thee in sacrifice. . . .874 Tarry no longer towards thine heritage:
Haste on thy way and be of right good cheer; Go each day onward on thy pilgrimage,
Think how short time thou shalt abidė here!
Thomas hoccleve or Occleve
c. 1370-c. 1450
c. 1370-c. 1451 IN PRAISE OF CHAUCER (From the Prologue to The Story of Thebes.
c. 1420) Him that was, if I shall not feign, Flower of Poets, throughout of all Britáin, 40 Which soothly had moost of excellence In Rhetorykė and in eloquencė. Read his making, who list the truthé findė, Which never shall appallen” in my mindė, But always fresh been in my memoriė; 45 i Time. 2 Sick.
THOMAS HOCCLEVE'S COMPLAINT
THE PROLOGUE After that Harvest gathered had his sheavės,
And that the brown sesóun of Michaelmessė! Was come, and gan the trees rob of their leaves
That green had been and in lustý freshnessė, 3 Given. 4 Unfamiliar.
4 Afraid. • Against. 6 Makes laugh or sigh. 7 May. 1 Works, or poetry.
? Grow pale, i. e. fade.
& Sayings. 1 Entire, complete.
1 The feast of St. Michael and All Angels, or Michaelmas, which falls on Sept. 29th.
Through God's just doom and through His judgement,
393 And for my bestė now I take and deem, Gave that good Lord to me my punishment; 395
In wealth I took of Him no heed or yeme, Him for to please and Him honour and
queme,? And me He gave a bones on which to gnaw,
Me to correct and of Him to have awe. He gave me wit, and wit He took away 400
When that He saw that I it sore misspent,
And granted me my guiltės to repent,
And to amend my sinful governaunce.
Lord God that salve art to all my heaviness! Thanks for my wealth and mine adversitie, Thanks for mine age and for my sickėness, And thanks be to Thine infinite goodness 411 For all Thy gifts and benefices all, And to Thy mercy and Thy grace I call.
Which for to waive is in no mannės might,
How rich he be, strong, lusty, fresh, and gay. And at November's end, upon a night,
Sighing most sore, as in my bed I lay,
day Before I had, sleep came none in mine eye, 20 So vexed me the thoughtful malady. . .
A LAMENT FOR CHAUCER (From The Regimen of Princes, c. 1412) But welaway! so is my heartė woe
1958 That the honour of English tongue is deed,?
Of whom I used to have counsel and rede.3 O master dear, and father reverent!
My master Chaucer, flower of eloquence,
0, universal father in sciénce!
In slaying him, but all this land it smarteth; But ne'ertheless, thou hast not any power 1970
His name to slay; his high virtúe upstarteth Unslain by thee, which aye us lively heart
eth With bookės of his ornate inditing,
That are to all this land illumining. 1974 Simple my spirit, scarce my letterure ? 2073
Unto your excellency for to write
I put myself, although I can but lyte.8
taught; But I was dull, and little learned or naught. 6 Care.
Some time I thought as lite as any man, 106
For to have fallen in that wildernessė, But God, when that Him list, may, will, and
can, Our health withdraw and send a wight sick
nessė, Though man be well this day, no sykernessės To him is promised that it shall endure;. 111 God now can hurt and now can heal and
7 Appease. 8 Possibly an allusion to the proverb: “He that gives thee a bone would not have thee die."
1 A long didactic poem dedicated to Prince Henry, the future Henry V. The Prologue contains many autobiographical confessions, as well as the familiar passage on Chaucer, given above.
2 Dead. 3 Instruction.
4 Understanding. SA single injury.
6 Hearteneth i. e, cheers, 7 Learning.
& Know but little.
cure. .. 1 Hoccleve was ill and insane about 1416-1421. * Psalm, xxxi. 11, 12. Cf. also Psalm, lxxxviii. • Little.
Alas! my worthy master honourable,
Of his person, I have here his likenéss19 4995 This landės very treasure and richéssė,
Essayėd, to this end in truthfulness,
SCOTTISH POETS AFTER CHAUCER Who was there nearer in philosophie
To Aristotle, in our tongue, but thou? King James the First of Scotland The foot-steps of Virgil in poesie
1394-1437 Thou followedst sure, this men know well That cumber-world," that thee, my master
A BALLAD OF GOOD COUNSEL slow12
Since through virtúe increases dignity, I would were slain! death went too hastily And virtue, flower and root, is of noblay,' To run on thee, and rive thy life of thee. Of any weal or what estate thou be,
His steps ensue and dread thou no affray; Death hath but small consideracioun
Exile all vice, and follow truth alway; Unto the virtuous, I have espied,
Luve most thy God, who first thy luve began, No more, as showeth the probacioun,18
And for each inch He will thee quit a span. Than to a vicious master-scoundrel tried;14
Be not o'er proud in thy prosperity,
For as it comes, so will it pass away;.
Thy time to count is short, thou may'st well
For of green grass soon cometh withered hay. He might have held his vengeance yet awhile,
Labour in truth while there is light of day.
Trust most in God, for He best guide thee can, Till that some man might equal to thee be.
And for an inch He will thee quit a span. Nay, let that be! he knew well that this isle Might never bring forth man like unto Since word is thrall, and only thought is free, 15 thee,
Tame thou thy tongue, that power has and And his office needės do must he; 2105
may, God bade him so, I trust as for the best; Shut thou thine eyes on worldly vanity; O master, master, God thy soulė rest!...2107 Refrain thy lust and hearken what I say;
Seize lest thou slide, and creep forth on the The firstė finder 18 of our fair langúage, 4978
way; Hath writ of death as many another one, Keep thy behest unto thy God and man, 20 So highly well that it is my dotáge17 4980
And for each inch He will thee quit a span. To speak, I cannot reach what they have
done. Alas! my father from the world is gone
Robert Henryson My worthy master Chaucer, him I mean
c. 1425-c. 1500 Be thou advocate for him, heaven's queen!
THE TALE OF THE PADDOCK AND THE As thou well knowest, O blessėd virgine, 4985
Grant now thy help and thy promocioun! A little Mouse came to a river side;
Of very force hehoved her to bide,
And to and fra beside the river deep, Although his life be quenched, the resemb- Crying she ran, with mony a piteous peep.
launcé Of him hath in me só fresh liveliness
“Help ower, help ower!" this silly Mouse gan
cry, That, to put other men in remembrauncé
“For Goddės luve, some body o'er this • Revengeful compulsion.
brim!”1 11 Death, the encumberer, burden, or hindrance of the With that a Paddock 2 in the water by, world.
Put up her heid, and on the bank gan clym;8 12 Slew.
13 Proof, as experience shows. 14 Proved. 15 Mastered.
Whilk by natúre could duck, and gaily swim. 16 Probably the first discoverer of the full resources of
19 The portrait of Chaucer, which Hoccleve employed our language, not the first poet, as the expression is some
someone to paint on the inargin of his manuscript (Harl. times explained. Chaucer trusted to his native tongue,
Ms. 4688) opposite to this stanza. while Gower, for instance, wrote in English, Latin and French.
1 Nobility. 17 Foolishnesg.
With voice full rauk," she said in this manéir: "Gude morn, Sir Mouse, what is your errand
"See'st thou," quoth she, "of corn yon jolie
flats Of ripened oats, of barley, pease, and wheat; I am hungrie, and fain would be thereat,
But I am stoppit by this water great;
And on this side I get na thing to eat But hardest nuts, whilk with my teeth I bore, 20 Were I beyond, my feast were far the more. “I haf na boat, here is na marinére;
And though there were, I has no freight to Quoth she: "Sister, let be your heavy cheer;
Do my counsél, and I shall find the way
Withouten horse, brig, boat, or yet gallay, To bring you o'er safelybe not afeardNor even wet the tip of your long beard." "I haf great wonder," quoth the silly Mouse, “How thou can'st float without feathér or
fin! This river is sa deep and dangerous, Methinks that thou would drowned be
therein. Tell me, therefore, what facultie or gin, Thou hast to bring thee o'er this water?''
Than Thus to declare, the Paddock soon began: “With my twa feet," quoth she, “webbėd and
braid, Instead of oars, I row the stream full still; And though the flood be perilous to wade,
Baith to and fra I row at my ain will.
I may not drown,-for why?-my open gill 40 Devoidis10 aye the water I resaif," Therefore to droun, forsooth, na dreid I haif.” 12 The Mouse looked hard upon her fronsit1face,
Her wrinkled cheekės, and her lippės wide; Her hanging browės, and her voice sa hace;
Her sprawling leggés, and her harskyls hide. She ran aback, and to the Paddock cried: “If I have ony skill in phisnomie, 16 Thou hast some part of falsehood and envíe. "For wise men say the inclinatioun
Of mannės thought proceedeth commonlie After the corporal complexioun
To guid or ill, as nature will applie;
A twisted face, a twisted phisnomie. The auld provérb is witness of this lorum:17 Distortum vultum, sequitur distortio morum.' “Na," quoth the Toad, “that proverb is not
true; For fairest things are oftentimes found
Then up she gazed, and to the heavens gan cry:
“O Jupiter! of Nature, god and king, I mak an aith truly to thee, that I
This little Mouse shall o'er this water bring.” This aith was made. The Mouse not pér
ceiving The false device of this foul trickster Taid,24 97 Tuik threid, and bound her leg, as she her bade.
Then foot for foot they leapt baith in the brim;
But in their minds they were quite different: The Mouse thought of na thing but for to swim,
The Paddock for to drown 25 set her intent. When they had gained mid-stream, as on they went,
103 With all her force the Paddock pressed down, And thought the Mouse without mercíe to drown.
faikyn.18 • Hoarse, raucous.
6 Pretty plain. & Bridge.
7 What power or what contrivance. $ Then. • Broad.
10 Empties. u Receive.
13 Rough. 14 Hoarse.
16 Physiognomy. Lore, learning.
20 Contrive. 21 Thread.
12 Hurt. 23 Apparently an oath by which a person solemnly binds himself not to murder or injure another, or deceive him to his hurt. 24 Toad.
25 Drown her.
Perceiving this, the Mouse on her gan cry:
“Traitor to God, and man-sworn unto me, Thou swore the murther-aith right now, that I Sans force or harm should ferrièd be and
free!” And when she saw there was but do or dee, 110 With all her micht she forced her to swim And struggled on the Paddock's back to clim.20
Mak thee gude cheer of it that God thee sends,
For warldės wrack but welfare nocht avails. No gude is thine, save only that thou spends;11
Remanent all thou brookis but with bales.
Seek to soláce when sadness thee assails; In dolour long thy life may not endure,
Wherefore of comfort set up all thy sails; 15 Without gladnéss availis no treasúre.
The dread of death then made her strength in
crease; Forced her to save herself with micht and
main. The Mouse upward, the Paddock down gan
preis; 27 Now to, now fra, now duck, now up again. 116
This silly Mouse thus plunged in great pain, So fought as lang as breath was in her breist, Till at the last she cryėd for a priest. As thus she sighed, a Gled28 perched on a
bough, And to this wretched battle tuik guid heid, 29 And with a whisk, ere either one knew how, He clutched his claw between them in the
threid; Then to the land he bore them with guid
speed, Glad of his prize, which shrieked for fear of
skaith, Then loosed he them, and ruthless slew them
To gather goods in all their lives space; And, when their bags are full, their selves are
bare, And of their riches but the keeping hes;5 While others come to spend it, that have
grace, Whilk of thy winnings no labour had nor cure,
Tak thou example, and spend with merriness; Without gladnéss availis no treasúre.
CONTENT (From The Tale of the Upland Mouse and the
Blessėd be sober feast in quietie;
Though it be little into quantitie.
Great abundance, and blind prosperitie, Ofttimės mak an ill conclusion;
The sweetest life, therefore, in this countrie, Is to live safe, with small possession.
Though all the wealth?that e'er had living wight
Were only thine, no more thy part does fall But meat, drink, clothes, and of the rest a sight, Yet, to the Judge, thou shalt give 'compt of
all. Ane reckoning richt comes of ane ragments
small, Be just and joyous, and do to nane injúre,
And truth shall mak thee strong, as ony wall; Without gladness availis no treasure. 40
NO TREASURE WITHOUT GLADNESS Be merry, man! and tak not sairin mind The wavering of this wretched world of
sorrow! To God be humble and to thy friend be kind, And with thy neighbours gladly lend and
borrow: His chance to-nicht, it may be thine to
morrow; Be blithe in heart for ony adventúre; For oft with wise men, 't has been said
aforrow, Without gladness availis no treasúre. % Climb. 27 Press.
23 Hawk. 29 Heed. 1 Sore.
2 Afore, before.
3 The sense is, For (i. e. because) the world's trash, refuse (wrack), without (“but”) spiritual well-being (welfare) avails nothing. 4 Short time.
6 Care. ? The passage is thus paraphrased by Hailes:“What riches give us, let us then explore; Meat, drink, and clothes; what else? a sight of more." 8 Scroll
1 Mahomet, here the devil. In the Middle Ages, Mahomet and other false prophets were confused or identified with Satan.
2 Fastens or fastings even, Shrove Tuesday, the evening preceding the fast of Lent. It was a season of riotous festivity,