Legends and Sagas
The Canterbury Tales and Other Works of Chaucer (Middle English), by Geoffery Chaucer, [14th cent.], at sacred-texts.com
The Romaunt of the Rose
Fragment A Many men sayn that in sweveninges
Ther nys but fables and lesynges;
But men may some sweven[es] sen
Whiche hardely that false ne ben,
But afterward ben apparaunt.
This may I drawe to warraunt
An authour that hight Macrobes,
That halt nat dremes false ne lees,
But undoth us the avysioun
10 That whilom mette kyng Cipioun.
And whoso saith or weneth it be
A jape, or elles nycete,
To wene that dremes after falle,
Let whoso lyste a fol me calle.
For this trowe I, and say for me,
That dremes signifiaunce be
Of good and harm to many wightes
That dremen in her slep a-nyghtes
Ful many thynges covertly
20 That fallen after al openly.
Within my twenty yer of age,
Whan that Love taketh his cariage
Of yonge folk, I wente soone
To bedde, as I was wont to done,
And faste I slepte; and in slepyng
Me mette such a swevenyng
That lyked me wonders wel.
But in that sweven is never a del
That it nys afterward befalle,
30 Ryght as this drem wol tel us alle.
Now this drem wol I ryme aright
To make your hertes gaye and lyght,
For Love it prayeth, and also
Commaundeth me that it be so.
And if there any aske me,
Whether that it be he or she,
How this book, which is here,
Shal hatte, that I rede you here:
It is the Romance of the Rose,
40 In which al the art of love I close.
The mater fayre is of to make;
God graunt me in gree that she it take
For whom that it begonnen is.
And that is she that hath, ywis,
So mochel pris, and therto she
So worthy is biloved to be,
That she wel ought, of pris and ryght,
Be cleped Rose of every wight.
That it was May me thoughte tho
50 It is fyve yer or more ago
That it was May, thus dremed me,
In tyme of love and jolite,
That al thing gynneth waxen gay,
For ther is neither busk nor hay
In May that it nyl shrouded ben
And it with newe leves wren.
These wodes eek recoveren grene,
That drie in wynter ben to sene,
And the erthe wexith proud withalle,
60 For swote dewes that on it falle,
And the pore estat forget
In which that wynter had it set.
And than bycometh the ground so proud
That it wole have a newe shroud,
And makith so queynt his robe and faire
That it hath hewes an hundred payre
Of gras and flouris, ynde and pers,
And many hewes ful dyvers
That is the robe I mene, iwys,
70 Through which the ground to preisen is.
The briddes that haven left her song,
While thei suffride cold so strong,
In wedres gryl and derk to sighte,
Ben in May for the sonne brighte
So glade that they shewe in syngyng
That in her hertis is sich lykyng
That they mote syngen and be light.
Than doth the nyghtyngale hir myght
To make noyse and syngen blythe,
80 Than is blisful many sithe
The chelaundre and papyngay,
Than yonge folk entenden ay
Forto ben gay and amorous
The tyme is than so saverous.
Hard is the hert that loveth nought
In May whan al this mirth is wrought,
Whan he may on these braunches here
The smale briddes syngen clere
Her blisful swete song pitous.
90 And in this sesoun delytous,
Whan love affraieth alle thing,
Me thought a-nyght in my sleping,
Right in my bed, ful redily,
That it was by the morowe erly,
And up I roos and gan me clothe.
Anoon I wissh myn hondis bothe.
A sylvre nedle forth I drough
Out of an aguler queynt ynough,
And gan this nedle threde anon,
100 For out of toun me list to gon
The song of briddes forto here
That in thise buskes syngen clere.
And in [the] swete seson that leef is,
With a thred bastyng my slevis,
Alone I wente in my plaiyng,
The smale foules song harknyng.
They peyned hem, ful many peyre,
To synge on bowes blosmed feyre.
Joly and gay, ful of gladnesse,
110 Toward a ryver gan I me dresse
That I herd renne faste by,
For fairer plaiyng non saugh I
Than playen me by that ryver.
For from an hill that stood ther ner
Cam doun the strem ful stif and bold.
Cleer was the water, and as cold
As any welle is, soth to seyne,
And somdel lasse it was than Seyne,
But it was strayghter wel away.
120 And never saugh I, er that day,
The watir that so wel lyked me,
And wondir glad was I to se
That lusty place and that ryver.
And with that watir, that ran so cler,
My face I wyssh. Tho saugh I well
The botme paved everydell
With gravel, ful of stones shene.
The medewe softe, swote, and grene,
Beet right on the watir syde.
130 Ful cler was than the morowtyde,
And ful attempre, out of drede.
Tho gan I walke thorough the mede,
Dounward ay in my pleiyng,
The ryver syde costeiyng.
And whan I had a while goon,
I saugh a gardyn right anoon,
Ful long and brood, and everydell
Enclosed was, and walled well
With highe walles enbatailled,
140 Portraied without and wel entailled
With many riche portraitures.
And bothe the ymages and the peyntures
Gan I biholde bysyly,
And I wole telle you redyly
Of thilk ymages the semblaunce,
As fer as I have in remembraunce.
Amydde saugh I Hate stonde,
That for hir wrathe, yre, and onde,
Semede to ben a mynoresse,
150 An angry wight, a chideresse;
And ful of gyle and fel corage,
By semblaunt, was that ilk ymage.
And she was nothyng wel arraied,
But lyk a wod womman afraied.
Frounced foule was hir visage,
And grennyng for dispitous rage,
Hir nose snorted up for tene.
Ful hidous was she for to sene,
Ful foul and rusty was she, this.
160 Hir heed writhen was, ywis,
Ful grymly with a greet towayle.
An ymage of another entayle
A lyft half was hir faste by.
Hir name above hir heed saugh I,
And she was called Felonye.
Another ymage that Vilanye
Clepid was saugh I and fond
Upon the wal on hir right hond.
Vilany was lyk somdell
170 That other ymage, and, trustith wel,
She semede a wikked creature.
By countenaunce in portrayture
She semed be ful dispitous,
And eek ful proud and outragious.
Wel coude he peynte, I undirtake,
That sich ymage coude make.
Ful foul and cherlyssh semed she,
And eek vylayneus for to be,
And litel coude of norture
180 To worshipe any creature.
And next was peynted Coveitise,
That eggith folk in many gise
To take and yeve right nought ageyn,
And gret tresouris up to leyn.
And that is she that for usure
Leneth to many a creature
The lasse for the more wynnyng,
So coveitous is her brennyng.
And that is she that penyes fele
190 Techith for to robbe and stele
These theves and these smale harlotes;
And that is routh, for by her throtes
Ful many oon hangith at the laste.
She makith folk compasse and caste
To taken other folkis thyng
Thorough robberie or myscounting.
And that is she that makith trechoures,
And she makith false pleadoures
That with hir termes and hir domes
200 Doon maydens, children, and eek gromes
Her heritage to forgo.
Ful croked were hir hondis two,
For Coveitise is evere wod
To gripen other folkis god.
Coveityse, for hir wynnyng,
Ful leef hath other mennes thing.
Another ymage set saugh I
Next Coveitise faste by,
And she was clepid Avarice.
210 Ful foul in peyntyng was that vice;
Ful fade and caytif was she eek,
And also grene as ony leek.
So yvel hewed was hir colour,
Hir semed to have lyved in langour.
She was lyk thyng for hungre deed,
That ladde hir lyf oonly by breed
Kneden with eisel strong and egre,
And therto she was lene and megre.
And she was clad ful porely
220 Al in an old torn courtepy,
As she were al with doggis torn;
And bothe bihynde and eke biforn
Clouted was she beggarly.
A mantyl heng hir faste by,
Upon a perche, weik and small;
A burnet cote heng therwithall
Furred with no menyver,
But with a furre rough of her,
Of lambe-skynnes hevy and blake.
230 It was ful old, I undirtake,
For Avarice to clothe hir well
Ne hastith hir never a dell.
For certeynly it were hir loth
To weren ofte that ilke cloth,
And if it were forwered, she
Wolde have ful gret necessite
Of clothyng er she bought hir newe,
Al were it bad of woll and hewe.
This Avarice hild in hir hand
240 A purs that heng by a band,
And that she hidde and bond so stronge,
Men must abyde wondir longe
Out of that purs er ther come ought.
For that ne cometh not in hir thought;
It was not, certein, hir entente
That fro that purs a peny wente.
And by that ymage, nygh ynough,
Was peynted Envye, that never lough
Nor never wel in hir herte ferde
250 But if she outher saugh or herde
Som gret myschaunce or gret disese.
Nothyng may so moch hir plese
As myschef and mysaventure,
Or whan she seeth discomfiture
Upon ony worthy man falle,
Than likith hir wel withalle.
She is ful glad in hir corage,
If she se any gret lynage
Be brought to nought in shamful wise.
260 And if a man in honour rise,
Or by his wit or by his prowesse,
Of that hath she gret hevynesse.
For, trustith wel, she goth nygh wod
Whan any chaunce happith god.
Envie is of such crueltee
That feith ne trouthe holdith she
To freend ne felawe, bad or good.
Ne she hath kyn noon of hir blood,
That she nys ful her enemy;
270 She nolde, I dar seyn hardely,
Hir owne fadir ferde well.
And sore abieth she everydell
Hir malice and hir maltalent,
For she is in so gret turment,
And hath such [wo] whan folk doth good
That nygh she meltith for pure wood.
Hir herte kervyth and so brekith
That God the puple wel awrekith.
Envie, iwis, shal nevere lette
280 Som blame upon the folk to sette.
I trowe that if Envie, iwis,
Knewe the beste man that is
On this side or biyonde the see,
Yit somwhat lakken hym wolde she;
And if he were so hende and wis
That she ne myght al abate his pris,
Yit wolde she blame his worthynesse
Or by hir wordis make it lesse.
I saugh Envie in that peyntyng
290 Hadde a wondirful lokyng,
For she ne lokide but awry
Or overthwart, all baggyngly.
And she hadde a [foul] usage:
She myght loke in no visage
Of man or womman forth-right pleyn,
But shette hir [oon] eie for disdeyn.
So for envie brenned she
Whan she myght any man se
That fair or worthi were, or wis,
300 Or elles stod in folkis prys.
Sorowe was peynted next Envie
Upon that wall of masonrye.
But wel was seyn in hir colour
That she hadde lyved in langour;
Hir semede to have the jaunyce.
Nought half so pale was Avarice,
Nor nothyng lyk of lenesse;
For sorowe, thought, and gret distresse,
That she hadde suffred day and nyght,
310 Made hir ful yelow and nothyng bright,
Ful fade, pale, and megre also.
Was never wight yit half so wo
As that hir semede for to be,
Nor so fulfilled of ire as she.
I trowe that no wight myght hir please
Nor do that thyng that myght hir ease;
Nor she ne wolde hir sorowe slake,
Nor comfort noon unto hir take,
So depe was hir wo bigonnen,
320 And eek hir hert in angre ronnen.
A sorowful thyng wel semed she,
Nor she hadde nothyng slowe be
For to forcracchen al hir face,
And for to rent in many place
Hir clothis, and for to tere hir swire,
As she that was fulfilled of ire.
And al totorn lay eek hir her
Aboute hir shuldris here and ther,
As she that hadde it al torent
330 For angre and for maltalent.
And eek I telle you certeynly
How that she wep ful tendirly.
In world nys wight so hard of herte
That hadde sen her sorowes smerte,
That nolde have had of her pyte,
So wo-begon a thyng was she.
She al todassht herself for woo
And smot togyder her hondes two.
To sorowe was she ful ententyf,
340 That woful recheles caytyf.
Her roughte lytel of playing
Or of clypping or kissyng;
For whoso sorouful is in herte,
Him luste not to play ne sterte,
Ne for to dauncen, ne to synge,
Ne may his herte in temper bringe
To make joye on even or morowe,
For joy is contrarie unto sorowe.
Elde was paynted after this,
350 That shorter was a foot, iwys,
Than she was wont in her yonghede.
Unneth herself she mighte fede.
So feble and eke so old was she
That faded was al her beaute.
Ful salowe was waxen her colour;
Her heed, for hor, was whyt as flour.
Iwys, great qualm ne were it non,
Ne synne, although her lyf were gon.
Al woxen was her body unwelde,
360 And drie and dwyned al for elde.
A foul, forwelked thyng was she,
That whylom round and softe had be.
Her eeres shoken faste withalle,
As from her heed they wolde falle;
Her face frounced and forpyned,
And bothe her hondes lorne, fordwyned.
So old she was that she ne wente
A foot, but it were by potente.
The tyme that passeth nyght and day,
370 And resteles travayleth ay,
And steleth from us so prively
That to us semeth sykerly
That it in oon poynt dwelleth ever
And certes, it ne resteth never,
But goth so faste, and passeth ay,
That ther nys man that thynke may
What tyme that now present is
(Asketh at these clerkes this),
For [er] men thynke it, redily
380 Thre tymes ben passed by
The tyme, that may not sojourne,
But goth and may never retourne,
As watir that doun renneth ay,
But never drope retourne may;
Ther may nothing as tyme endure,
Metall nor erthely creature,
For alle thing it fret and shall;
The tyme eke that chaungith all,
And all doth waxe and fostred be,
390 And alle thing distroieth he;
The tyme that eldith our auncessours,
And eldith kynges and emperours,
And that us alle shal overcomen,
Er that deth us shal have nomen;
The tyme that hath al in welde
To elden folk had maad hir elde
So ynly that, to my witing,
She myghte helpe hirsilf nothing,
But turned ageyn unto childhede.
400 She had nothing hirsilf to lede,
Ne wit ne pithe in hir hold,
More than a child of two yeer old.
But natheles, I trowe that she
Was fair sumtyme, and fresh to se,
Whan she was in hir rightful age,
But she was past al that passage,
And was a doted thing bicomen.
A furred cope on had she nomen;
Wel had she clad hirsilf and warm,
410 For cold myght elles don hir harm.
These olde folk have alwey cold;
Her kynde is sich, whan they ben old.
Another thing was don there write
That semede lyk an ipocrite,
And it was clepid Poope-Holy.
That ilk is she that pryvely
Ne spareth never a wikked dede,
Whan men of hir taken noon hede,
And maketh hir outward precious,
420 With pale visage and pitous,
And semeth a simple creature;
But ther nys no mysaventure
That she ne thenkith in hir corage.
Ful lyk to hir was that ymage,
That makid was lyk hir semblaunce.
She was ful symple of countenaunce,
And she was clothed and eke shod
As she were, for the love of God,
Yolden to relygioun,
430 Sich semede hir devocioun.
A sauter held she fast in honde,
And bisily she gan to fonde
To make many a feynt praiere
To God and to his seyntis dere.
Ne she was gay, ne fresh, ne jolyf,
But semede to be ful ententyf
To gode werkis and to faire,
And therto she had on an haire.
Ne, certis, she was fatt nothing,
440 But semed wery for fasting;
Of colour pale and deed was she.
From hir the gate ay werned be
Of paradys, that blisful place;
For sich folk maketh lene her face,
As Crist seith in his evangile,
To gete hem prys in toun a while;
And for a litel glorie veine
They lesen God and his reigne.
And alderlast of everychon
450 Was peynted Povert al aloon,
That not a peny hadde in wolde,
All though she hir clothis solde,
And though she shulde anhonged be,
For nakid as a worm was she.
And if the wedir stormy were,
For cold 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 mantell.
460 No more was there, never a dell,
To clothe hir with, I undirtake;
Gret leyser hadde she to quake.
And she was putt, that I of talke,
Fer fro these other, up in an halke.
There lurked and there coured she,
For pover thing, whereso it be,
Is shamefast and dispised ay.
Acursed may wel be that day
That povere man conceyved is.
470 For, God wot, al to selde, iwys,
Is ony povere man wel fed,
Or wel araied or [wel] cled,
Or wel biloved, in sich wise
In honour that he may arise.
Alle these thingis, well avised,
As I have you er this devysed,
With gold and asure over all
Depeynted were upon the wall.
Square was the wall, and high sumdell;
480 Enclosed and barred well,
In stede of hegge, was that gardyn;
Com nevere shepherde theryn.
Into that gardyn, wel wrought,
Whoso that me coude have brought,
By laddre or elles by degre,
It wolde wel have liked me.
For sich solas, sich joie and play,
I trowe that nevere man ne say,
As was in that place delytous.
490 The gardeyn was not daungerous
To herberwe briddes many oon.
So riche a yer[d] was never noon
Of briddes song and braunches grene;
Therynne were briddes mo, I wene,
Than ben in all the rewme of Fraunce.
Ful blisful was the accordaunce
Of swete and pitous song thei made,
For all this world it owghte glade.
And I mysilf so mery ferde,
500 Whan I her blisful songes herde,
That for an hundred pound nolde I
(If that the passage openly
Hadde be unto me free)
That I nolde entren for to se
Th' assemble God kepe it fro care!
Of briddis whiche therynne ware,
That songen thorugh her mery throtes
Daunces of love and mery notes.
Whan I thus herde foules synge,
510 I fel fast in a weymentynge
By which art or by what engyn
I myght come into that gardyn;
But way I couth. fynde noon
Into that gardyn for to goon.
Ne nought wist I if that ther were
Eyther hole or place [o-]where
By which I myght have entre.
Ne ther was noon to teche me,
For I was al aloone, iwys,
520 Ful wo and angwishus of this,
Til atte last bithought I me
That by no weye ne myght it be
That ther nas laddre or wey to passe,
Or hole, into so faire a place.
Tho gan I go a full gret pas
Envyronyng evene in compas
The closing of the square wall,
Tyl that I fond a wiket small
So shett that I ne myght in gon,
530 And other entre was ther noon.
Uppon this dore I gan to smyte,
That was fetys and so lite,
For other wey coude I not seke.
Ful long I shof, and knokkide eke,
And stood ful long and of[t] herknyng,
If that I herde ony wight comyng,
Til that [the] dore of thilk entre
A mayden curteys openyde me.
Hir heer was as yelowe of hewe
540 As ony basyn scoured newe,
Hir flesh tendre as is a chike,
With bente browis smothe and slyke.
And by mesure large were
The openyng of hir yen clere,
Hir nose of good proporcioun,
Hir yen grey as is a faucoun,
With swete breth and wel savoured,
Hir face whit and wel coloured,
With litel mouth and round to see.
550 A clove chynne eke hadde she.
Hir nekke was of good fasoun
In lengthe and gretnesse, by resoun,
Withoute bleyne, scabbe, or royne;
Fro Jerusalem unto Burgoyne
Ther nys a fairer nekke, iwys,
To fele how smothe and softe it is.
Hir throte, also whit of hewe
As snowe on braunche snowed newe.
Of body ful wel wrought was she;
560 Men neded not in no cuntre
A fairer body for to seke.
And of fyn orfrays hadde she eke
A chapelet so semly oon
Ne werede never mayde upon
And faire above that chapelet
A rose gerland had she sett.
She hadde [in honde] a gay mirrour,
And with a riche gold tressour
Hir heed was tressed queyntely,
570 Hir sleves sewid fetisly,
And for to kepe hir hondis faire
Of gloves white she had a paire.
And she hadde on a cote of grene
Of cloth of Gaunt. Withouten wene,
Wel semyde by hir apparayle
She was not wont to gret travayle,
For whan she kempt was fetisly,
And wel arayed and richely,
Thanne had she don al hir journe,
580 For merye and wel bigoon was she.
She ladde a lusty lyf in May:
She hadde no thought, by nyght ne day,
Of nothyng, but if it were oonly
To graythe hir wel and uncouthly.
Whan that this dore hadde opened me
This may[de] semely for to see,
I thanked hir as I best myghte,
And axide hir how that she highte,
And what she was I axide eke.
590 And she to me was nought unmeke,
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 myghty and ful riche am I,
And that of oon thyng namely,
For I entende to nothyng
But to my joye and my pleying,
And for to kembe and tresse me.
600 Aqueynted am I and pryve
With Myrthe, lord of this gardyn,
That fro the land of Alexandryn
Made the trees hidre be fet
That in this gardyn ben set.
And whan the trees were woxen on highte,
This wall, that stant heere in thi sighte,
Dide Myrthe enclosen al aboute;
And these ymages, al withoute,
He dide hem bothe entaile and peynte,
610 That neithir ben jolyf ne queynte,
But they ben ful of sorowe and woo,
As thou hast seen a while agoo.
And ofte tyme, hym to solace,
Sir Myrthe cometh into this place,
And eke with hym cometh his meynee
That lyven in lust and jolite.
And now is Myrthe therynne to here
The briddis how they syngen clere,
The mavys and the nyghtyngale,
620 And other joly briddis smale.
And thus he walketh to solace
Hym and his folk, for swetter place
To pleyen ynne he may not fynde,
Although he sought oon in-tyl Ynde.
The alther-fairest folk to see
That in this world may founde be
Hath Mirthe with hym in his route,
That folowen hym always aboute."
Whan Ydelnesse had told al this,
630 And I hadde herkned wel, ywys,
Thanne seide I to dame Ydelnesse,
"Now, also wisly God me blesse,
Sith Myrthe, that is so faire and fre,
Is in this yerde with his meyne,
Fro thilk assemble, if I may,
Shal no man werne me to-day,
That I this nyght ne mote it see.
For wel wene I there with hym be
A fair and joly companye
640 Fulfilled of alle curtesie."
And forth, withoute wordis mo,
In at the wiket went I tho,
That Ydelnesse hadde opened me,
Into that gardyn fair to see.
And whan I was inne, iwys,
Myn herte was ful glad of this,
For wel wende I ful sikerly
Have ben in paradys erthly.
So fair it was that, trusteth wel,
650 It semede a place espirituel,
For certys, as at my devys,
Ther is no place in paradys
So good inne for to dwelle or be
As in that gardyn, thoughte me.
For there was many a bridd syngyng,
Thoroughout the yerd al thringyng;
In many places were nyghtyngales,
Alpes, fynches, and wodewales,
That in her swete song deliten
660 In thilke places as they habiten.
There myghte men see many flokkes
Of turtles and laverokkes.
Chalaundres fele sawe I there,
That wery, nygh forsongen were;
And thrustles, terins, and mavys,
That songen for to wynne hem prys,
And eke to sormounte in her song
That other briddes hem among.
By note made fair servyse
670 These briddes, that I you devise;
They songe her song as faire and wel
As angels don espirituel.
And trusteth wel, whan I hem herde,
Ful lustily and wel I ferde,
For never yitt sich melodye
Was herd of man that myghte dye.
Sich swete song was hem among
That me thought it no briddis song,
But it was wondir lyk to be
680 Song of mermaydens of the see,
That, for her syngyng is so clere,
Though we mermaydens clepe hem here
In English, as is oure usaunce,
Men clepe hem sereyns in Fraunce.
Ententif weren for to synge
These briddis, that nought unkunnynge
Were of her craft, and apprentys,
But of song sotil and wys.
And certis, whan I herde her song,
690 And saw the grene place among,
In herte I wex so wondir gay
That I was never erst, er that day,
So jolyf nor so wel bigoo,
Ne merye in herte, as I was thoo.
And than wist I and saw ful well
That Ydelnesse me served well,
That me putte in sich jolite.
Hir freend wel ought I for to be,
Sith she the dore of that gardyn
700 Hadde opened and me leten in.
From hennes forth hou that I wroughte,
I shal you tellen, as me thoughte.
First, whereof Myrthe served there,
And eke what folk there with hym were,
Withoute fable I wol discryve.
And of that gardyn eke as blyve
I wole you tellen aftir this
The faire fasoun all, ywys,
That wel wrought was for the nones.
710 I may not telle you all at ones,
But, as I may and can, I shall
By ordre tellen you it all.
Ful fair servise and eke ful swete
These briddis maden as they sete.
Layes of love, ful wel sownyng,
They songen in her jargonyng;
Summe high and summe eke lowe songe
Upon the braunches grene spronge.
The swetnesse of her melodye
720 Made al myn herte in reverye.
And whan that I hadde herd, I trowe,
These briddis syngyng on a rowe,
Than myght I not withholde me
That I ne wente inne for to see
Sir Myrthe, for my desiryng
Was hym to seen, over alle thyng,
His countenaunce and his manere
That sighte was to me ful dere.
Tho wente I forth on my right hond
730 Doun by a lytel path I fond
Of mentes full, and fenell grene,
And faste by, without wene,
Sir Myrthe I fond, and right anoon
Unto Sir Myrthe gan I goon,
There as he was hym to solace.
And with hym in that lusty place
So fair folk and so fresh had he
That whan I saw, I wondred me
Fro whennes siche folk myght come,
740 So faire they weren, alle and some;
For they were lyk, as to my sighte,
To angels that ben fethered brighte.
This folk, of which I telle you soo,
Upon a karole wenten thoo.
A lady karolede hem that hyghte
Gladnesse, [the] blissful and the lighte;
Wel coude she synge and lustyly,
Noon half so wel and semely,
And make in song sich refreynynge:
750 It sat hir wondir wel to synge.
Hir vois ful clere was and ful swete.
She was nought rude ne unmete
But couth. ynow of sich doyng
As longeth unto karolyng,
For she was wont in every place
To syngen first, folk to solace.
For syngyng moost she gaf hir to;
No craft had she so leef to do.
Tho myghtist thou karoles sen,
760 And folk daunce and mery ben,
And made many a fair tournyng
Upon the grene gras springyng.
There myghtist thou see these flowtours,
Mynstrales, and eke jogelours,
That wel to synge dide her peyne.
Somme songe songes of Loreyne,
For in Loreyn her notes bee
Full swetter than in this contre.
There was many a tymbestere,
770 And saillouris, that I dar wel swere
Couth. her craft ful parfitly.
The tymbres up ful sotilly
They caste and hente full ofte
Upon a fynger fair and softe,
That they failide never mo.
Ful fetys damyseles two,
Ryght yonge and full of semelyhede,
In kirtles and noon other wede,
And faire tressed every tresse,
780 Hadde Myrthe doon, for his noblesse,
Amydde the karole for to daunce;
But herof lieth no remembraunce,
Hou that they daunced queyntely.
That oon wolde come all pryvyly
Agayn that other, and whan they were
Togidre almost, they threwe yfere
Her mouthis so that thorough her play
It semed as they kiste alway
To dauncen well koude they the gise.
790 What shulde I more to you devyse?
Ne bede I never thennes go,
Whiles that I saw hem daunce so.
Upon the karoll wonder faste
I gan biholde, til atte laste
A lady gan me for to espie,
And she was cleped Curtesie,
The worshipfull, the debonaire
I pray to God evere falle hir faire!
Ful curteisly she called me:
800 "What do ye there, beau ser?" quod she,
"Come and, if it lyke you
To dauncen, dauncith with us now."
And I, withoute tariyng,
Wente into the karolyng.
I was abasshed never a dell,
But it to me liked right well
That Curtesie me cleped so
And bad me on the daunce go.
For if I hadde durst, certeyn
810 I wolde have karoled right fayn,
As man that was to daunce right blithe.
Thanne gan I loken ofte sithe
The shap, the bodies, and the cheres,
The countenaunce and the maneres
Of all the folk that daunced there,
And I shal telle what they were.
Ful fair was Myrthe, ful long and high;
A fairer man I nevere sigh.
As round as appil was his face,
820 Ful rody and whit in every place.
Fetys he was and wel beseye,
With metely mouth and yen greye;
His nose by mesure wrought ful right;
Crisp was his heer, and eek ful bright;
His shuldris of a large brede,
And smalish in the girdilstede.
He semed lyk a portreiture,
So noble he was of his stature,
So fair, so joly, and so fetys,
830 With lymes wrought at poynt devys,
Delyver, smert, and of gret myght;
Ne sawe thou nevere man so lyght.
Of berd unnethe hadde he nothyng,
For it was in the firste spryng.
Ful yong he was, and mery of thought,
And in samet, with briddis wrought,
And with gold beten ful fetysly,
His body was clad ful richely.
Wrought was his robe in straunge gise,
840 And al toslytered for queyntise
In many a place, lowe and hie.
And shod he was with gret maistrie,
With shoon decoped, and with laas.
By druery and by solas
His leef a rosyn chapelet
Hadde mad, and on his heed it set.
And wite ye who was his leef?
Dame Gladnesse there was hym so leef,
That syngith so wel with glad courage,
850 That from she was twelve yeer of age
She of hir love graunt hym made.
Sir Mirthe hir by the fynger hadde
Daunsyng, and she hym also;
Gret love was atwixe hem two.
Bothe were they faire and bright of hewe.
She semed lyk a rose newe
Of colour, and hir flesh so tendre
That with a brere smale and slendre
Men myght it cleve, I dar wel seyn.
860 Hir forheed, frounceles al pleyn;
Bente were hir browis two,
Hir yen greye and glad also,
That laugheden ay in hir semblaunt
First or the mouth, by covenaunt.
I not what of hir nose descryve,
So fair hath no womman alyve.
Hir heer was yelowe and clere shynyng;
I wot no lady so likyng.
Of orfrays fresh was hir gerland;
870 I, which seyen have a thousand,
Saugh never, ywys, no gerlond yitt
So wel wrought of silk as it.
And in an overgilt samit
Clad she was, by gret delit,
Of which hir leef a robe werde
The myrier she in hir herte ferde.
And next hir wente, on hir other side,
The God of Love that can devyde
Love, and as hym likith it be.
880 But he can cherles daunten, he,
And maken folkis pride fallen;
And he can wel these lordis thrallen,
And ladyes putt at lowe degre,
Whan he may hem to p[r]oude see.
This God of Love of his fasoun
Was lyk no knave ne quystroun;
His beaute gretly was to pryse.
But of his robe to devise
I drede encombred for to be;
890 For nought clad in silk was he,
But all in floures and in flourettes,
And with losenges and scochouns,
With briddes, lybardes, and lyouns,
And other beestis wrought ful well.
His garnement was everydell
Portreied and wrought with floures,
By dyvers medlyng of coloures.
Floures there were of many gise
900 Sett by compas in assise.
Ther lakkide no flour, to my dom,
Ne nought so mych as flour of brom,
Ne violete, ne eke pervynke,
Ne flour noon that man can on thynke;
And many a rose-leef ful long
Was entermedled theramong.
And also on his heed was set
Of roses reed a chapelett,
But nyghtyngales, a ful gret route,
910 That flyen over his heed aboute,
The leeves felden as they flyen.
And he was all with briddes wryen,
With popynjay, with nyghtyngale,
With chalaundre, and with wodewale,
With fynch, with lark, and with archaungell.
He semede as he were an aungell
That doun were comen fro hevene cler.
Love hadde with hym a bacheler
That he made alweyes with hym be;
920 Swete-Lokyng cleped was he.
This bacheler stod biholdyng
The daunce, and in his hond holdyng
Turke bowes two had he.
That oon of hem was of a tree
That bereth a fruyt of savour wykke;
Ful crokid was that foule stikke,
And knotty here and there also,
And blak as bery or ony slo.
That other bowe was of a plante
930 Withoute wem, I dar warante,
Ful evene and by proporcioun
Treitys and long, of ful good fasoun.
And it was peynted wel and thwyten,
And overal diapred and writen
With ladyes and with bacheleris,
Ful lyghtsom and glad of cheris.
These bowes two held Swete-Lokyng,
That semede lyk no gadelyng.
And ten brode arowis hild he there,
940 Of which fyve in his right hond were.
But they were shaven wel and dight,
Nokked and fethered right,
And all they were with gold bygoon,
And stronge poynted everychoon,
And sharpe for to kerven well.
But iren was ther noon ne steell,
For al was gold, men myght it see,
Out-take the fetheres and the tree.
The swiftest of these arowis fyve
950 Out of a bowe for to dryve,
And best fethered for to flee,
And fairest eke, was clepid Beaute.
That other arowe, that hurteth lesse,
Was clepid, as I trowe, Symplesse.
The thridde cleped was Fraunchise,
That fethred was in noble wise
With valour and with curtesye.
The fourthe was cleped Compaignye,
That hevy for to sheten ys.
960 But whoso shetith right, ywys,
May therwith doon gret harm and wo.
The fifte of these and laste also,
Faire-Semblaunt men that arowe calle,
The leeste grevous of hem alle,
Yit can it make a ful gret wounde.
But he may hope his soris sounde,
That hurt is with that arowe, ywys.
His wo the bet bistowed is,
For he may sonner have gladnesse
970 His langour oughte be the lesse.
Five arowis were of other gise,
That ben ful foule to devyse,
For shaft and ende, soth for to telle,
Were also blak as fend in helle.
The first of hem is called Pride.
That other arowe next hym biside,
It was cleped Vylanye;
That arowe was al with felonye
Envenymed, and with spitous blame.
980 The thridde of hem was cleped Shame.
The fourthe Wanhope cleped is.
The fifte, the Newe-Thought, ywys.
These arowis that I speke of heere
Were alle fyve on oon maneere,
And alle were they resemblable.
To hem was wel sittyng and able
The foule croked bowe hidous,
That knotty was and al roynous.
That bowe semede wel to shete
990 These arowis fyve that ben unmete
And contrarye to that other fyve.
But though I telle not as blyve
Of her power ne of her myght,
Herafter shal I tellen right
The soothe and eke signyfiaunce,
As fer as I have remembraunce.
All shal be seid, I undirtake,
Er of this book an ende I make.
Now come I to my tale ageyn.
1000 But aldirfirst I wol you seyn
The fasoun and the countenaunces
Of all the folk that on the daunce is.
The God of Love, jolyf and lyght,
Ladde on his hond a lady bright,
Of high prys and of gret degre.
This lady called was Beaute,
As an arowe, of which I tolde.
Ful wel thewed was she holde,
Ne she was derk ne broun, but bright,
1010 And clere as the mone lyght
Ageyn whom all the sterres semen
But smale candels, as we demen.
Hir flesh was tendre as dew of flour,
Hir chere was symple as byrde in bour,
As whyt as lylye or rose in rys,
Hir face, gentyl and tretys.
Fetys she was, and smal to se;
No wyndred browis hadde she,
Ne popped hir, for it neded nought
1020 To wyndre hir or to peynte hir ought.
Hir tresses yelowe and longe straughten,
Unto hir helys doun they raughten.
Hir nose, hir mouth, and eye, and cheke
Wel wrought, and all the remenaunt eke.
A ful gret savour and a swote
Me toucheth 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,
1030 For yong she was, and hewed bright,
Sore plesaunt, and fetys withall,
Gente, and in hir myddill small.
Biside Beaute yede Richesse,
An high lady of gret noblesse,
And gret of prys in every place.
But whoso durste to hir trespace,
Or til hir folk, in word or dede,
He were full hardy, out of drede,
For bothe she helpe and hyndre may.
1040 And that is nought of yisterday
That riche folk have full gret myght
To helpe and eke to greve a wyght.
The beste and the grettest of valour
Diden Rychesse ful gret honour,
And besy weren hir to serve,
For that they wolde hir love deserve:
They cleped hir lady, gret and small.
This wide world hir dredith all;
This world is all in hir daunger.
1050 Hir court hath many a losenger,
And many a traytour envyous,
That ben ful besy and curyous
For to dispreisen and to blame
That best deserven love and name.
Bifore the folk, hem to bigilen,
These losengeris hem preyse and smylen,
And thus the world with word anoynten;
And aftirward they prikke and poynten
The folk right to the bare boon,
1060 Bihynde her bak whan they ben goon,
And foule abate the folkis prys.
Ful many a worthy man and wys,
An hundred, have [they] do to dye.
These losengers thorough flaterye
Have made folk ful straunge be,
There hem oughte be pryve.
Wel yvel mote they thryve and thee,
And yvel aryved mote they be,
These losengers, ful of envye!
1070 No good man loveth her companye.
Richesse a robe of purpur on hadde
Ne trowe not that I lye or madde,
For in this world is noon it lyche,
Ne by a thousand deell so riche,
Ne noon so fair; for it ful well
With orfrays leyd was everydeell,
And portraied in the ribanynges
Of dukes storyes, and of kynges,
And with a bend of gold tasseled,
1080 And knoppis fyne of gold ameled.
Aboute hir nekke of gentyl entayle
Was shet the riche chevesaile,
In which ther was full gret plente
Of stones clere and bright to see.
Rychesse a girdell hadde upon,
The bokel of it was of a stoon
Of vertu gret and mochel of myght,
For whoso bar the stoon so bright,
Of venym durst hym nothing doute,
1090 While he the stoon hadde hym aboute.
That stoon was gretly for to love,
And tyl a riche mannes byhove
Worth all the gold in Rome and Frise.
The mourdaunt wrought in noble wise
Was of a stoon full precious,
That was so fyn and vertuous
That hol a man it koude make
Of palasie and toth-ake.
And yit the stoon hadde such a grace
1100 That he was siker in every place,
All thilke day, not blynd to ben,
That fastyng myghte that stoon seen.
The barres were of gold ful fyn
Upon a tyssu of satyn,
Full hevy, gret, and nothyng lyght;
In everich was a besaunt-wight.
Upon the tresses of Richesse
Was sette a cercle, for noblesse,
Of brend gold that full lyghte shoon;
1110 So fair, trowe I, was never noon.
But he were kunnyng, for the nonys,
That koude devyse all the stonys
That in that cercle shewen clere.
It is a wondir thing to here,
For no man koude preyse or gesse
Of hem the valewe or richesse.
Rubyes there were, saphires, jagounces,
And emeraudes, more than two ounces,
But all byfore, ful sotilly,
1120 A fyn charboncle set saugh I.
The stoon so clere was and so bright
That, also soone as it was nyght,
Men myghte seen to go, for nede,
A myle or two in lengthe and brede.
Sich lyght sprang out of the ston
That Richesse wondir brighte shon,
Bothe hir heed and all hir face,
And eke aboute hir al the place.
Dame Richesse on hir hond gan lede
1130 A yong man ful of semelyhede,
That she best loved of ony thing.
His lust was mych in housholding.
In clothyng was he ful fetys,
And loved well to have hors of prys.
He wende to have reproved be
Of theft or moordre if that he
Hadde in his stable ony hakeney.
And therfore he desired ay
To be aqueynted with Richesse,
1140 For all his purpos, as I gesse,
Was forto make gret dispense,
Withoute wernyng or diffense.
And Richesse myght it wel sustene,
And hir dispence well mayntene,
And hym alwey sich plente sende
Of gold and silver for to spende
Withoute lakking or daunger,
As it were poured in a garner.
And after on the daunce wente
1150 Largesse, that settith al hir entente
For to be honourable and free.
Of Alexandres kyn was she.
Hir most joye was, ywys,
Whan that she yaf and seide, "Have this."
Not Avarice, the foule caytyf,
Was half to gripe so ententyf,
As Largesse is to yeve and spende;
And God ynough alwey hir sende,
So that the more she yaf awey
1160 The more, ywys, she hadde alwey.
Gret loos hath Largesse and gret pris,
For bothe [wys] folk and unwys
Were hooly to hir baundon brought,
So wel with yiftes hath she wrought.
And if she hadde an enemy,
I trowe that she coude tristily
Make hym full soone hir freend to be,
So large of yift and free was she.
Therfore she stod in love and grace
1170 Of riche and pover in every place.
A full gret fool is he, ywys,
That bothe riche and nygard is.
A lord may have no maner vice
That greveth more than avarice,
For nygart never with strengthe of hond
May wynne gret lordship or lond,
For freendis all to fewe hath he
To doon his will perfourmed be.
And whoso wole have freendis heere,
1180 He may not holde his tresour deere.
For by ensample I telle this:
Right as an adamaunt, iwys,
Can drawen to hym sotylly
The iren that is leid therby,
So drawith folkes hertis, ywis,
Silver and gold that yeven is.
Largesse hadde on a robe fresh
Of riche purpur Sarsynesh.
Wel fourmed was hir face and cleer,
1190 And opened hadde she hir coler,
For she right there hadde in present
Unto a lady maad present
Of a gold broche, ful wel wrought.
And certys, it myssat hir nought,
For thorough hir smokke, wrought with silk,
The flesh was seen as whit as mylk.
Largesse, that worthy was and wys,
Hild by the hond a knyght of prys,
Was sib to Artour of Britaigne,
1200 And that was he that bar the ensaigne
Of worship and the gounfanoun.
And yit he is of sich renoun
That men of hym seye faire thynges
Byfore barouns, erles, and kynges.
This knyght was comen all newely
Fro tourneiynge faste by;
There hadde he don gret chyvalrie
Thorough his vertu and his maistrie;
And for the love of his lemman
1210 He caste doun many a doughty man.
And next hym daunced dame Fraunchise,
Arayed in full noble gyse.
She was not broun ne dun of hewe,
But whit as snow fallen newe.
Hir nose was wrought at poynt devys,
For it was gentyl and tretys,
With eyen gladde, and browes bente.
Hir heer doun to hir helis wente,
And she was symple as dowve on tree.
1220 Ful debonaire of herte was she.
She durst never seyn ne do
But that that hir longed to;
And if a man were in distresse,
And for hir love in hevynesse,
Hir herte wolde have full gret pite,
She was so amiable and free.
For were a man for hir bistad,
She wolde ben right sore adrad
That she dide over-gret outrage,
1230 But she hym holpe his harm to aswage;
Hir thought it elles a vylanye.
And she hadde on a sukkenye,
That not of hempene heerdis was
So fair was noon in all Arras.
Lord, it was ridled fetysly!
Ther nas [nat] a poynt, trewely,
That it nas in his right assise.
Full wel clothed was Fraunchise,
For ther is no cloth sittith bet
1240 On damysell than doth roket.
A womman wel more fetys is
In roket than in cote, ywis.
The whyte roket, rydled faire,
Bitokeneth that full debonaire
And swete was she that it ber.
Bi hir daunced a bacheler.
I can not telle you what he highte,
But faire he was and of good highte,
All hadde he be, I sey no more,
1250 The lordis sone of Wyndesore.
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!),
Whanne I com first into the place.
She was not nyce ne outrageous,
But wys and war and vertuous,
Of fair speche and of fair answere.
1260 Was never wight mysseid of here;
She bar rancour to no wight.
Clere broun she was, and therto bright
Of face, of body avenaunt
I wot no lady so plesaunt.
She [were] worthy for to bene
An emperesse or crowned quene.
And by hir wente a knyght dauncyng,
That worthy was and wel spekyng,
And ful wel koude he don honour.
1270 The knyght was fair and styf in stour,
And in armure a semely man,
And wel biloved of his lemman.
Faire Idilnesse thanne saugh I,
That alwey was me faste by.
Of hir have I, withoute fayle,
Told yow the shap and apparayle;
For (as I seide) loo, that was she
That dide to me so gret bounte
That she the gate of the gardyn
1280 Undide and let me passen in.
And after daunced, as I gesse,
[Youthe], fulfilled of lustynesse,
That nas not yit twelve yeer of age,
With herte wylde and thought volage.
Nyce she was, but she ne mente
Noon harm ne slight in hir entente,
But oonly lust and jolyte;
For yonge folk, wel witen ye,
Have lytel thought but on her play.
1290 Hir lemman was biside alway
In sich a gise that he hir kyste
At alle tymes that hym lyste,
That all the daunce myght it see.
They make no force of pryvete,
For who spake of hem yvel or well,
They were ashamed never a dell,
But men myght seen hem kisse there
As it two yonge dowves were.
For yong was thilke bacheler;
1300 Of beaute wot I noon his per.
And he was right of sich an age
As Youthe his leef, and sich corage.
The lusty folk thus daunced there,
And also other that with hem were,
That weren alle of her meyne;
Ful hende folk and wys and free,
And folk of faire port, truely,
There weren alle comunly.
Whanne I hadde seen the countenaunces
1310 Of hem that ladden thus these daunces,
Thanne hadde I will to gon and see
The gardyn that so lyked me,
And loken on these faire loreres,
On pyntrees, cedres, and oliveris.
The daunces thanne eended were,
For many of them that daunced there
Were with her loves went awey
Undir the trees to have her pley.
A, Lord, they lyved lustyly!
1320 A gret fool were he, sikirly,
That nolde, his thankes, such lyf lede!
For this dar I seyn, oute of drede,
That whoso myghte so wel fare,
For better lyf durst hym not care;
For ther nys so good paradys
As to have a love at his devys.
Oute of that place wente I thoo,
And in that gardyn gan I goo,
Pleyyng along full meryly.
1330 The God of Love full hastely
Unto hym Swete-Lokyng clepte;
No lenger wolde he that he kepte
His bowe of gold, that shoon so bright.
He bad hym bende [it] anoon ryght,
And he full soone [it] sette an-ende,
And at a braid he gan it bende,
And tok hym of his arowes fyve,
Full sharp and redy for to dryve.
Now God, that sittith in mageste,
1340 Fro deedly woundes he kepe me,
If so be that he hadde me shette!
For if I with his arowe mette,
It hadde me greved sore, iwys.
But I, that nothyng wist of this,
Wente up and doun full many a wey,
And he me folwed fast alwey,
But nowhere wold I reste me,
Till I hadde in all the gardyn be.
The gardyn was, by mesuryng,
1350 Right evene and square in compassing:
It as long was as it was large.
Of fruyt hadde every tree his charge,
But it were any hidous tree,
Of which ther were two or three.
There were, and that wot I full well,
Of pome-garnettys a full gret dell;
That is a fruyt full well to lyke,
Namely to folk whanne they ben sike.
And trees there were, gret foisoun,
1360 That baren notes in her sesoun,
Such as men notemygges calle,
That swote of savour ben withalle.
And alemandres gret plente,
Fyges, and many a date-tree
There wexen, if men hadde nede,
Thorough the gardyn in length and brede.
Ther was eke wexyng many a spice,
As clowe-gelofre and lycorice,
Gyngevre and greyn de parys,
1370 Canell and setewale of prys,
And many a spice delitable
To eten whan men rise fro table.
And many homly trees ther were
That peches, coynes, and apples beere,
Medlers, plowmes, perys, chesteynes,
Cherys, of which many oon fayn is,
Notes, aleys, and bolas,
That for to seen it was solas.
With many high lorer and pyn
1380 Was renged clene all that gardyn,
With cipres and with olyveres,
Of which that nygh no plente heere is.
There were elmes grete and stronge,
Maples, assh, ok, asp, planes longe,
Fyn ew, popler, and lyndes faire,
And othere trees full many a payre.
What shulde I tel you more of it?
There were so many trees yit,
That I shulde al encombred be
1390 Er I had rekened every tree.
These trees were set, that I devyse,
Oon from another, in assyse,
Fyve fadome or sixe, I trowe so;
But they were hye and great also,
And for to kepe out wel the sonne,
The croppes were so thicke ronne,
And every braunche in other knet
And ful of grene leves set,
That sonne myght there non discende,
1400 Lest [it] the tender grasses shende.
There myght men does and roes se,
And of squyrels ful great plente
From bowe to bowe alway lepynge.
Conies there were also playinge,
That comyn out of her clapers,
Of sondrie colours and maners,
And maden many a tourneying
Upon the fresshe grass spryngyng.
In places saw I welles there,
1410 In whiche there no frogges were,
And fayr in shadowe was every welle.
But I ne can the nombre telle
Of stremys smal that by devys
Myrthe had don come through condys,
Of whiche the water in rennyng
Gan make a noyse ful lykyng.
About the brinkes of these welles,
And by the stremes overal elles,
Sprang up the grass, as thicke set
1420 And softe as any veluet,
On which men myght his lemman leye
As on a fetherbed to pleye,
For the erthe was ful softe and swete.
Through moisture of the welle wete
Sprong up the sote grene gras
As fayre, as thicke, as myster was.
But moche amended it the place
That th' erthe was of such a grace
That it of floures hath plente,
1430 That bothe in somer and wynter be.
There sprang the vyolet al newe,
And fressh pervynke, riche of hewe,
And floures yelowe, white, and rede
Such plente grew there never in mede.
Ful gay was al the ground, and queynt,
And poudred, as men had it peynt,
With many a fressh and sondri flour,
That casten up ful good savour.
I wol nat longe holde you in fable
1440 Of al this garden dilectable.
I mot my tonge stynten nede,
For I ne may, withouten drede,
Naught tellen you the beaute al,
Ne half the bounte therewithal.
I went on right hond and on left
About the place; it was nat left,
Tyl I had [in] al the garden ben,
In the estres that men myghte sen.
And thus while I wente in my play,
1450 The God of Love me folowed ay,
Right as an hunter can abyde
The beest, tyl he seeth his tyde
To sheten at good mes to the der,
Whan that hym nedeth go no ner.
And so befyl, I rested me
Besydes a wel, under a tree,
Which tree in Fraunce men cal a pyn.
But sithe the tyme of Kyng Pepyn,
Ne grew there tree in mannes syghte
1460 So fayr, ne so wel woxe in highte
In al that yard so high was non.
And springyng in a marble ston
Had Nature set, the sothe to telle,
Under that pyn-tree a welle.
And on the border, al withoute,
Was written in the ston aboute,
Letters smal that sayden thus,
"Here starf the fayre Narcisus."
Narcisus was a bacheler
1470 That Love had caught in his danger,
And in his net gan hym so strayne,
And dyd him so to wepe and playne,
That nede him must his lyf forgo.
For a fayr lady that hight Echo
Him loved over any creature,
And gan for hym such payne endure
That on a tyme she him tolde
That if he her loven nolde,
That her behoved nedes dye;
1480 There laye non other remedye.
But natheles for his beaute
So feirs and daungerous was he
That he nolde graunten hir askyng,
For wepyng ne for fair praiyng.
And whanne she herde hym werne [her] soo,
She hadde in herte so gret woo,
And took it in so gret dispit,
That she, withoute more respit,
Was deed anoon. But er she deide,
1490 Full pitously to God she preide
That proude-hertid Narcisus,
That was in love so daungerous,
Myght on a day ben hampred so
For love, and ben so hoot for woo,
That never he myght to joye atteyne,
And that he shulde feele in every veyne
What sorowe trewe lovers maken,
That ben so vilaynsly forsaken.
This prayer was but resonable;
1500 Therfore God held it ferme and stable.
For Narcisus, shortly to telle,
By aventure com to that welle
To reste hym in that shadowing
A day whanne he com fro huntyng.
This Narcisus hadde suffred paynes
For rennyng alday in the playnes,
And was for thurst in gret distresse
Of heet and of his werynesse
That hadde his breth almost bynomen.
1510 Whanne he was to that welle comen,
That shadowid was with braunches grene,
He thoughte of thilke water shene
To drynke, and fresshe hym wel withalle.
And doun on knees he gan to falle,
And forth his heed and necke he straughte
To drynken of that welle a draughte.
And in the water anoon was seene
His nose, his mouth, his yen sheene,
And he therof was all abasshed.
1520 His owne shadowe had hym bytrasshed,
For well wende he the forme see
Of a child of gret beaute.
Well kouth. Love hym wreke thoo
Of daunger and of pride also,
That Narcisus somtyme hym beer.
He quytte hym well his guerdoun ther,
For he musede so in the welle
That, shortly all the sothe to telle,
He lovede his owne shadowe soo
1530 That atte laste he starf for woo.
For whanne he saugh that he his wille
Myght in no maner wey fulfille,
And that he was so faste caught
That he hym kouth. comfort nought,
He loste his wit right in that place,
And diede withynne a lytel space.
And thus his warisoun he took
For the lady that he forsook.
Ladyes, I preye ensample takith,
1540 Ye that ageyns youre love mistakith,
For if her deth be yow to wite,
God kan ful well youre while quyte.
Whanne that this lettre of which I telle
Hadde taught me that it was the welle
Of Narcisus in his beaute,
I gan anoon withdrawe me,
Whanne it fel in my remembraunce
That hym bitidde such myschaunce.
But at the laste thanne thought I
1550 That scatheles, full sykerly,
I myght unto the welle goo.
Wherof shulde I abasshen soo?
And doun I loutede for to see
The clere water in the stoon,
And eke the gravell, which that shoon
Down in the botme as silver fyn,
For of the well this is the fyn:
In world is noon so cler of hewe.
1560 The water is evere fresh and newe,
That welmeth up with wawis brighte
The mountance of two fynger highte.
Abouten it is gras spryngyng,
For moiste so thikke and wel likyng
That it ne may in wynter dye
No more than may the see be drye.
Down at the botme set saw I
Two cristall stonys craftely
In thilke freshe and faire welle.
1570 But o thing sothly dar I telle,
That ye wole holde a gret mervayle
Whanne it is told, withouten fayle.
For whanne the sonne, cler in sighte,
Cast in that well his bemys brighte,
And that the heete descendid is,
Thanne taketh the cristall stoon, ywis,
Agayn the sonne an hundrid hewis,
Blew, yelow, and red, that fresh and newe is.
Yitt hath the merveilous cristall
1580 Such strengthe that the place overall,
Bothe flour and tree and leves grene
And all the yerd in it is seene.
And for to don you to undirstonde,
To make ensample wole I fonde.
Ryght as a myrrour openly
Shewith all thing that stondith therby,
As well the colour as the figure,
Withouten ony coverture,
Right so the cristall stoon shynyng
1590 Withouten ony disseyvyng
The estrees of the yerd accusith
To hym that in the water musith.
For evere, in which half that he be,
He may well half the gardyn se,
And if he turne, he may right well
Sen the remenaunt everydell.
For ther is noon so litil thyng
So hid, ne closid with shittyng,
That it ne is sene, as though it were
1600 Peyntid in the cristall there.
This is the mirrour perilous
In which the proude Narcisus
Saw all his face fair and bright,
That made hym sithe to ligge upright.
For whoso loketh in that mirrour,
Ther may nothyng ben his socour
That he ne shall there sen somthyng
That shal hym lede into lovyng.
Full many worthy man hath it
1610 Blent, for folk of grettist wit
Ben soone caught heere and awayted;
Withouten respit ben they baited.
Heere comth to folk of newe rage;
Heere chaungith many wight corage;
Heere lith no red ne wit therto;
For Venus sone, daun Cupido,
Hath sowen there of love the seed,
That help ne lith there noon, ne red,
So cerclith it the welle aboute.
1620 His gynnes hath he sette withoute,
Ryght for to cacche in his panters
These damoysels and bachelers.
Love will noon other bridde[s] cacche,
Though he sette either net or lacche.
And for the seed that heere was sowen,
This welle is clepid, as well is knowen,
The Welle of Love, of verray right,
Of which ther hath ful many a wight
Spoken in bookis dyversely.
1630 But they shull never so verily
Descripcioun of the welle heere,
Ne eke the sothe of this matere,
As ye shull, whanne I have undo
The craft that hir bilongith too.
Allway me liked for to dwelle
To sen the cristall in the welle
That shewide me full openly
A thousand thinges faste by.
But I may say, in sory houre
1640 Stode I to loken or to poure,
For sithen [have] I sore siked.
That mirrour hath me now entriked,
But hadde I first knowen in my wit
The vertu and [the] strengthe of it,
I nolde not have mused there.
Me hadde bet ben elliswhere,
For in the snare I fell anoon
That hath bitrasshed many oon.
In thilke mirrour saw I tho,
1650 Among a thousand thinges mo,
A roser chargid full of rosis,
That with an hegge aboute enclos is.
Tho had I sich lust and envie,
That for Parys ne for Pavie
Nolde I have left to goon and see
There grettist hep of roses be.
Whanne I was with this rage hent,
That caught hath many a man and shent,
Toward the roser gan I go;
1660 And whanne I was not fer therfro,
The savour of the roses swote
Me smot right to the herte-rote,
As I hadde all enbawmed be.
And if I ne hadde endouted me
To have ben hatid or assailed,
My thankis, wolde I not have failed
To pulle a rose of all that route
To beren in myn hond aboute
And smellen to it where I wente;
1670 But ever I dredde me to repente,
And lest it grevede or forthoughte
The lord that thilke gardyn wroughte.
Of roses ther were gret wone,
So faire waxe never in rone.
Of knoppes clos some sawe I there;
And some wel beter woxen were;
And some ther ben of other moysoun
That drowe nygh to her sesoun
And spedde hem faste for to sprede.
1680 I love well sich roses rede,
For brode roses and open also
Ben passed in a day or two,
But knoppes wille [al] freshe be
Two dayes, atte leest, or thre.
The knoppes gretly liked me,
For fairer may ther no man se.
Whoso myght have oon of alle,
It ought hym ben full lief withalle.
Might I [a] gerlond of hem geten,
1690 For no richesse I wolde it leten.
Among the knoppes I ches oon
So fair that of the remenaunt noon
Ne preise I half so well as it,
Whanne I avise it in my wit.
For it so well was enlumyned
With colour reed, [and] as well fyned
As nature couth. it make faire.
And it hath leves wel foure paire,
That Kynde hath sett, thorough his knowyng,
1700 Aboute the rede roses spryngyng.
The stalke was as rishe right,
And theron stod the knoppe upright
That it ne bowide upon no side.
The swote smelle sprong so wide
That it dide all the place aboute
Next: Fragment B