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Title: The cõforte of louers
       The Comfort of Lovers

Author: Stephen Hawes

Release Date: August 15, 2007 [EBook #22326]

Language: English

Character set encoding: UTF-8


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The cõforte of louers

The comforte of louers made and compyled by Steuen Hawes somtyme grome of the honourable chambre of our late souerayne lorde kynge Henry ye seuenth (whose soule god pardon). In the seconde yere of the reygne of our most naturall souerayne lorde kỹge Henry the eyght.

& for your sake / I shall it take // holde this / a token y wys


¶ The prohemye.

T (The)

He gentyll poetes / vnder cloudy fygures

Do touche a trouth / and cloke it subtylly

Harde is to cõstrue poetycall scryptures

They are so fayned / & made sẽtẽcyously

For som do wryte of loue by fables pryuely

Some do endyte / vpon good moralyte

Of chyualrous actes / done in antyquyte

Whose fables and storyes ben pastymes pleasaunt

To lordes and ladyes / as is theyr lykynge

Dyuers to moralyte / ben oft attendaunt

And many delyte to rede of louynge

Youth loueth aduenture / pleasure and lykynge

Aege foloweth polycy / sadnesse and prudence

Thus they do dyffre / eche in experyence

I lytell or nought / experte in this scyence

Compyle suche bokes / to deuoyde ydlenes

Besechynge the reders / with all my delygence

Where as I offende / for to correct doubtles

Submyttynge me to theyr grete gentylnes

As none hystoryagraffe / nor poete laureate

But gladly wolde folowe / the makynge of Lydgate

Fyrst noble Gower / moralytees dyde endyte

And after hym Cauncers / grete bokes delectable

Lyke a good phylozophre / meruaylously dyde wryte

After them Lydgate / the monke commendable

Made many wonderfull bokes moche profytable

But syth the are deed / & theyr bodyes layde in chest

I pray to god to gyue theyr soules good rest

¶ Finis prohemii.


Whan fayre was phebus / wt his bemes bryght

Amyddes of gemyny / aloft the fyrmament

Without blacke cloudes / castynge his pured lyght

With sorowe opprest / and grete incombrement

Remembrynge well / my lady excellent

Saynge o fortune helpe me to preuayle

For thou knowest all my paynfull trauayle

I went than musynge / in a medowe grene

Myselfe alone / amonge the floures in dede

With god aboue / the futertens is sene

To god I sayd / thou mayst my mater spede

And me rewarde / accordynge to my mede

Thou knowest the trouthe / I am to the true

Whan that thou lyst / thou mayst them all subdue

Who dyde preserue the yonge edyppus

Whiche sholde haue be slayne by calculacyon

To deuoyde grete thynges / the story sheweth vs

That were to come / by true reuelacyon

Takynge after theyr hole operacyon

In this edyppus / accordynge to affecte

Theyr cursed calkynge / holly to abiecte

Who dyde preserue / Ionas and moyses

Who dyde preserue yet many other mo

As the byble maketh mencyon doubles

Who dyde kepe Charles frome his euyll fo

Who was he / that euer coude do so

But god alone / than in lyke wyse maye he

Kepe me full sure / frome all inyquyte


Thus as I called to my remembraunce

Suche trewe examples / I tenderly dyde wepe

Remembrynge well / goddes hyghe ordynaũce

Syghynge full oft / with inwarde teres depe

Tyll at the last / I fell in to a slepe

And in this slepe / me thought I dyde repayre

My selfe alone / in to a garden fayre

This goodly gardyn / I dyde well beholde

Where I sawe a place / ryght gaye and gloryous

With golden turrettes / paynted many afolde

Lyke a place of pleasure moste solacyous

The wyndowes glased / with crystall precyous

The golden fanes / with wynde and melody

By dulcet sounde / and meruaylous armony

The knottes flagraunt / with aromatyke odoure

With goodly sprynges / of meruaylous mountaynes

I dyde than tast / the redolent lycoure

Moost clere and swete / of the goodly vaynes

Whiche dyde me ease / somwhat of my paynes

Tyll to me came / a lady of goodly age

Apareyled sadly / and demure of vysage

To me she sayd / me thynke ye are not well

ye haue caught colde / and do lyue in care

Tell me your mynde / now shortly euerydele

To layne the trouthe / I charge you to beware

I shall for you / a remedy prepare

Dyspeyre you not / for no thynge that is past

Tell me your mynde / and be nought agast


Alas madame / vnto her than I sayd

It is no wonder / of myne inwarde payne

yf that my herte be meruayllously dysmayde

My trouthe and loue / therof is cause certayne

Dyuers yeres ago / I dyde in mynde retayne

A lady yonge / a lady fayre of syght

Good // wyse / and goodly / an holsome sterre of lyght

I durst not speke vnto her of my loue

Yet vnder coloure I dyuers bokes dyde make

Full pryuely / to come to my aboue

Thus many nyghtes / I watched for her sake

To her and to hers / my trouthe well to take

Without ony spotte / of ony maner yll

God knoweth all myn herte / my mynde & my wyll

The hygh dame nature / by her grete myght & power

Man / beest / and foule / in euery degre

Fro whens they came at euery maner houre

Dooth trye the trouthe / without duplycyte

For euery thynge must shewe the properte

Gentyll vngentyll / dame nature so well tryet

That all persones it openly espyeth

The lorde and knyght / delyteth for to here

Cronycles and storyes / of noble chyualry

The gentyll man gentylnes / for his passe tyme dere

The man of lawe / to here lawe truely

The yeman delyteth to talke of yomanry

The ploman his londe for to ere and sowe

Thus nature werketh / in hye degre and lowe


For yf there were one of the gentyll blode

Conuayde to yomanry for nourysshement

Dyscrecyon comen he sholde chaunge his mode

Though he knewe not / his parentes verament

Yet nature wolde werke / so by entendyment

That he sholde folowe / the condycyons doubtles

Of his true blode / by outwarde gentylnes

In all this worlde / ben but thynges twayne

As loue and hate / the trouth for to tell

And yf I sholde hate my lady certayne

Than worthy I were / to dye of deth cruell

Seynge all ladyes / that she doth excell

In beaute / grace / prudence and mekenes

What man on lyue / can more in one expres

yf she with me sholde take dyspleasure

Whiche loueth her by honoures desyre

What sholde she do / with suceh a creature

That hateth her / by inwarde fraude and yre

I yet a louer / do not so atyre

My fayth and hope / I put in her grace

Releace to graunt me / by good tyme and space

Thretened with sorowe / of may paynes grete

Thre yeres ago my ryght hande I dyde bynde

Fro my browes for fere / ye dropes doune dyde sweet

God knoweth all it was nothynge my mynde

Vnto no persone / I durst my her to vntwynde

yet the trouthe knowynge / the good gretest P

Maye me release / of all my / p / p / p / thre


Now ryght fayre lady / so sadde and demure

My mynde ye knowe / in euery maner thynge

I trust for trouthe / ye wyll not me dyscure

Sythes I haue shewed you without lesynge

At your request / the cause of my mournynge

Whiche abyde in sorowe / in my remembraunce

Without good conforte / saufe of esperaunce

Fayre sone sayd she / sythens I knowe your thought

your worde and dede / and here to be one

Dyspayre you not / for it auayleth nought

Ioye cometh after / whan the payne is gone

Conforte yourselfe / and muse not so alone

Doubt ye no thynge / but god wyll so agre

That at the last / ye shall your lady se

Be alwaye meke / let wysdome be your guyde

Aduenture for honoure / and put your selfe in preace

Clymbe not to fast / lest sodenly ye slyde

Lete god werke styll / he wyll your mynde encrece

Begynne no warre / be gladde to kepe the peace

Prepence no thynge / agaynst the honoure

Of ony lady / by fraudolent fauoure

Alas madame / vnto her than sayd I

Aboue .xx. woulues / dyde me touse and rent

Not longe agone / delynge moost shamefully

That by theyr tuggynge / my lyfe was nere spent

I dyde perceyue / somwhat of theyr entente

As the trouthe is knowen / vnto god aboue

My ladyes fader they dyde lytell loue


Seynge theyr falshode / and theyr subtylte

For fere of deth /where as I loued best

I dyde dysprayse / to knowe theyr cruelte

Somwhat to wysdome / accordynge to behest

Though that my body had but lytell rest

My herte was trewe vnto my ladyes blood

For all theyr dedes I thought no thynge but good

Some had wende the hous for to swepe

Nought was theyr besom / I holde it set on fyre

The inwarde wo in to my herte dyde crepe

To god aboue / I made my hole desyre

Saynge o good lorde of heuenly empyre

Let the mount with all braunches swete

Entyerly growe / god gyue vs grace to mete

Soma had wened for to haue made an ende

Of my bokes / before he hadde begynnynge

But all vayne they dyde so comprehende

Whan they of them lacke vnderstandynge

Vaynfull was & is theyr mysse contryuynge

Who lyst the trouthe of them for to enfuse

For the reed and whyte they wryte full true

Well sayd this lady I haue perceueraunce

Of our bokes / whiche that ye endyte

So as ye saye is all the cyrcumstaunce

Vnto the hyghe pleasure of the reed and the whyte

Which hath your trouth / and wyll you acquyte

Doubte ye no thynge / but at the last ye maye

Of your true mynde yet fynde a Ioyfull daye


Forsothe I sayd / dysdayne and straungenesse

I fere them sore / and fals reporte

I wolde they were / in warde all doutles

Lyke as I was / without conforte

Than wolde I thynke / my lady wolde resorte

Vnto dame mercy / my payne to consyder

God knoweth all / I wolde we were togyder

Though in meane season / of grene grasse I fede

It wolde not greue me / yf she knewe my heuynesse

My trauayle is grete / I praye god be my spede

To resyste the myght / of myn enmyes subtylnesse

Whiche awayte to take / me by theyr doublenesse

My wysdome is lytel / yet god may graunt me grace

Them to defende / in euery maner of cace

Lerne this she sayd / yf that you can by wytte

Of foes make frendes / they wyll be to you sure

yf that theyr frendshyp / be vnto you knytte

It is oft stedfast / and wyll longe endure

yf alwaye malyce / they wyll put in vre

No doubte it is / than god so hyght and stronge

Ful meruaylously / wyl soone reuenge theyr wronge

And now she sayd come on your waye with me

Unto a goodly toure whiche is solacyous

Beholde it yonder / full of felycyte

Quadrant it was / me thought full meruaylous

With golden turrettes / gaye and gloryous

Gargayled with greyhoũdes / and with many lyons

Made of fyne golde / with dyuers sondry dragons


The wyndowes byrall / without resplendysshaunt

The fayre yuery / coloured with grene

And all aboute there was dependaunt

Grete gargeyles of golde / full meruaylously besene

Neuer was made / a fayrer place I wene

The ryght excellent lady toke her intresse

Ryght so dyde I / by meruaylous swetnesse

Whan we came in / I dyde aboute beholde

The goodly temple / with pynacles vp sette

Wherin were ymages / of kynges all of golde

With dyuers scryptures / without ony lette

Aloft the roofe / were emeraudes full grette

Set in fyne golde / with amyable rudyes

Endented with dyamondes / and mayn turkyes

The wyndowes hystoried / with many noble kynges

The pyllers Iasper / dyuersed with asure

By pendaunt penacles / of many noble rynges

The pauement calcedony / beynge fayre and sure

The aras golde / with the story pure

Of the syche of thebes / with actes auenturous

Of ryght noble knyghtes / hardy and chyualrous

Than sayd this lady / I must now go hence

Passe ye tyme here / accordynge to your lykynge

It maye fortune / your lady of excellence

Wyll passe her tyme here / soone by walkynge

Than maye she se / your dolefull mournynge

And fare ye well / I maye no lenger tary

Marke well my lesson / and from it do not vary

Whan she was gone / the temple all alonge

I went my selfe / with syghtes grete and feruent

Alas I sayd / with inwarde paynes stronge

My herte doth blede / now all to torne and rent

For lacke of conforte / my herte is almost spent

O meruelous fortune / which hast ĩ loue me brought

Where is my conforte / that I so longe haue sought

O wonderfull loue / whiche fell vnto my lotte

O loue ryght clene / without ony thought vntrue

Syth thy fyrst louynge / not blemyssed with spotte

But euermore / the falseshede to extue

O dolorous payne / whiche doste renue

O pyteous herte / where is the helthe and boote

Of thy lady / that perst the at the roote

What thynge is loue / that causeth suche turment

From whens cometh it / me thynke it is good questyõ

Yf it be nature / from nature it is sent

Loue maye come of kynde by true affeccyon

Loue may appetyte / by naturall eleccyon

Than must loue nedes be / I perceyue it in mynde

A thynge fyrst gyuen / by the god of kynde

Alas o nature / why mayst not thou truely

Cause my lady loue / as thou hast me constrayned

Hath she power to domyne the vtterly

Why mayst not thou / cause her be somwhat payned

With natures moeuynge / for loue is not fayned

Alas for sorowe / why madest thou her so fayre

Without to loue / that she lyst soone repayre


Two thynges me conforte / euer in pryncypall

The fyrst be bokes / made in antyquyte

By Gower and Chauncers / poetes rethorycall

And Lydgate eke / by good auctoryte

Makynge mencyon / of the felycyte

Of my lady and me / by dame fortunes chaunce

To mete togyders / by wonderfull ordynaunce

The seconde is / where fortune dooth me brynge

In many placys / I se by prophecy

As in the storyes / of the olde buyldynge

Letters for my lady / depeynted wonderly

And letters for me / besyde her meruayllously

Agreynge well / vnto my bokes all

In dyuers placys / I se it in generall

O loue moost dere / o loue nere to my harte

O gentyll floure / I wolde you knewe my wo

Now that your beaute / perst me with the darte

With your vertue / and your mekenes also

Sythens ye so dyde / it is ryght longe ago

My herte doth se you / it is for you bebledde

Myne eyen with teeres / ben often made full redde

Where are ye now / the floure of Ioye and grace

Whiche myght me conforte / in this inwarde sorowe

Myne excellent lady / it is a ryght pyteous case

Good be my guyde / and saynt George vnto borowe

O clere Aurora / the sterre of the morowe

Whiche many yeres / with thy bemes mery

Hath me awaked / to se thyne emyspery


Thus as I mourned / I sawe than appere

Thre goodly myrours dependaunt on the wall

Set in fyne golde bordred with stones clere

The glasses pure / they were of crystall

Made longe ago to be memoryall

And vnder the fyrst glasse ryght fayre wryten was

Beholde thy selfe / and thy fautes or thou passe

By a sylken threde / small as ony heere

Ouer I sawe hange / a swerde full ponderous

Without a scauberde / full sharpe for to fere

The poynt dounwarde / ryght harde and asperous

All this I sawe / with hert full dolorous

Yet at auenture / to se the mystery

In the myroure / I loked than full sodenly

In this glasse I sawe / how I had ledde my lyfe

Sythens the tyme of my dyscrecyon

As vnto wyldnesse / alwaye affyrmatyfe

Folowynge the pleasure / of wylfull amonycyon

Not vnto vertue hauynge intencyon

Ihesu sayd I / thou hast me well preserued

From this swerdes fall / whiche I haue oft deserued

O ye estates / aloft on fortunes whele

Remembre this swerde / whiche ouer you dependeth

Beware the fall / before that ye it fele

Se your one euyll / se what vengeaunce ensueth

Correcte none other / whan that your fautes renueth

Calke not not goddes power / bryef not ye tens future

Beholde this glasse / se how he may endure


Many one weneth / the future tens to brefe

By calculacyon goddes power to withstande

Bathynge theyr swerdes / in blode by myschefe

Tyll at the last as I do vnderstande

This swerde doth fal by the myght of goddes hande

Vpon then all / whiche wolde his power abate

Then they repent but than it is to late

This goodly myrour / I ryght well behelde

Remembrynge well / my dedes done in tymes past

I toke forwytte / than for to be my shelde

By grace well armed / not to be agast

Thus as I stode / I dyde se at the last

The seconde myrour / as bryght as phebus

Set rounde about / with stones precyous

Ouer whiche dyde hãge / a floure of golde ryght fyne

Wherin was set / an emeraude full bryght

Ryght large and grete / whiche wõderfull dyde shyne

That me thought it was / grete conforte to my syght

Bordred with dyamondes / castỹge a meruaylous lyght

This floure dyde hange / by a ryght subtyll gynne

With a chayne of yron / and many a pryue pynne

Besyde whiche there was / a table of golde

With a goodly scrypture / enameled of grene

The sentence wherof / I dyde well beholde

The whiche sayd thus / it is openly sene

That many a one / full pryuely dooth wene

To blynde an other / by crafte and subtylnes

That ofte blyndeth hym / for all his doublenes


In this myrour whiche is here besyde

Thou shalt well lerne / they selfe for to knowe

Passe forth no ferder / but loke and abyde

Se what shall come / lest that thou ouer throwe

A sodayne rysynge dooth oft fall alowe

Without the grounde / be ryghe sure and perfyte

Beholde well this glasse / & take thy respyte

Whan thou hast so done / to this floure resorte

Laboure to gete it / from this harde yren chayne

Unto the gynnes / vnto thy grete conforte

Yf that thou canst / and take it for thy payne

To be they helpe / in thy Iournaye certayne

Lo here the vertues vnder wryten be

Of this ryall floure in euery degre

This ryche emeraude / who so dooth it bere

From his fyrst werynge / his syght shal not mynysshe

Payne of the heed he nedeth not to fere

By dynt of swerde / he shall neuer perysshe

Ne no thynge begyn / but he shall well fynysshe

Yf it be ryghtfull aftyr a true entent

Without resystence of grete impedyment

Of all nygromancy / and fals enchauntement

Agaynst hym wrought / he shall knowe the effecte

They can not blynde hym by cursed sentement

But he theyr werkes may ryght soone abiecte

No maner poyson he nedeth to susspecte

Neyther in mete not yet in ale ne wyne

Yf it beset well besyde a serpentyne


Yf he vntrue be vnto his gentyll lady

It wyll breke asondre / or crase than doubtlesse

It kepeth close / neuet the auoutry

This gentyll emeraude / this stone of rychesse

Hath many mo vertues / whiche I do not expresse

As saynt Iohan euangelyst doeth shewe openly

Who of his makynge lyst se the lapydary

When I had aduerted / in my remembraunce

All the maters / vnto the glasse I wente

Beholdynge it / by a longe cyrcumstaunce

Where as I dyde perceyue well verament

How preuy malyce / his messengers had sent

With subtyll engynes / to lye in a wayte

Yf that they coude take me with a bayte

I sawe there trappes / I sawe theyr gynnes all

I thanked god than / the swete holy goost

Whiche brought me hyder so well in specyall

Without whiche myrour / I had been but loost

In god aboue / the lorde of myghtes moost

I put my trust / for to withstande theyr euyll

Whiche dayly wrought / by the myght of the deuyll

I sawe theyr maysters blacke and tydyous

Made by the craft of many a nacyon

For to dystroye me / with strokes peryllous

To lette my Iournaye / as I make relacyon

Peryllous was the waye / and the cytuacyon

Full gladde was I of the vertu of this glasse

Whiche shewed me / what daungers I sholde passe


O all ye estates / of the hygh renowne

Beware these gynnes / beware theyr subtylte

The deuyll is grete / and redy to cast downe

By calculacyon / of the cursed cruelte

Of the subtyll beestes / full of inyquyte

In the olde tyme what snares were there sette

By fals calkynge / to dystroye lordes grete

Than after this to the yron gynne

I wente anone my wyte for to proue

By lytell and lytell / to vndo euery pynne

Thus in and out / I dyde the chayne ofte moue

Yet coude I not come / vnto myne aboue

Tyll at the last / I dyde the crafte espy

Vndoynge the pynnes / & chayne full meruaylously

Full gladde was I than / whan I had this floure

I kyst it oft / I behelde the coloure grene

It swaged ryght well / myn inwarde doloure

Myn eyes conforted / with the bryghtnes I wene

This ryall floure / this emeraude to shene

Whan I had goten it by my prudence

Ryght gladde I was / of fortunes premynence

O fortune sayd I / thou art ryght fauorable

For many a one / hath ben by symylytude

To wynne this floure / full gretely tendable

But they the subtylnes / myght nothynge exclude

Sythnen by wysdome / I dyde this fraude conclude

This floure / I sette nere my harte

For perfyte loue / of my fayre ladyes darte


So this accomplysshed / than incontynent

To the thyrde myrour I went dyrectly

Beholdynge aboute by good auysement

Seynge an ymage made full wonderly

Of the holy goost with flambes ardauntly

Vnder whiche I sawe with letters fayre and pure

In golde well grauen this meruaylous scrypture

Frome the fader and the sone my power procedynge

And of my selfe I god do ryght ofte inspyre

Dyuers creatures with spyrytuall knowynge

Inuysyble by dyuyne flambynge fyre

The eyes I entre not it is not my desyre

& am not coloured of the terrestryall grounde

Nor entre the eres for I do not sounde

Nor by the nose for I am not myxte

With ony maner of the ayry influence

Nor by the mouthe for I am not fyxte

For to be swalowed by erthly experyence

Nor yet by felynge or touchynge exystence

My power dyuyne can not be palpable

For I myselfe am no thynge manyable

Yet vysyble I may be by good apparaunce

As in the lykenesse of a doue vnto chryste Ihesu

At his baptysme I dyde it with good countenaunce

To shewe our godhed to be hygh and true

And at his transfyguracyon our power to ensue

In a fayre cloude with clere rayes radyaunt

Ouer hym that I was well apparaunt


Also truely yet at the feest of pentycoste

To the sones moder and the apostelles all

In tonges of fyre as god of myghtes moost

I dyde appere shewynge my power spyrytuall

Enflambynge theyr hertes by vertues supernall

Whiche after that by languages well

In euery regyon coude pronounce the gospell

And where I lyst by power dyuyne

I do enspyre oft causynge grete prophecy

Whiche is mysconstrued whan some do enclyne

Thynkynge by theyr wytte to perceyue it lyghtly

Or elles calke with deuylles the trouth to sertyfy

Whiche contrary be to all true saynge

For deuylles be subtyll and alwaye lyenge

Whan I had aduerted with my dylygence

All the scrypture I sawe me besyde

Hãge a fayre swerde & shelde of meruailous excellẽce

Whiche to beholde I dyde than abyde

To blase the armes I dyde well prouyde

The felde was syluer / and in it a medowe grene

With an olyue tre full meruaylously besene

Two lyons of asure vpon euery syde

Couchande were truely besyde this olyue tree

A hande of stele wherin was wryten pryde

Dyde holde this ryall swerde in certaynte

A scrypture there was whiche sayd by subtylte

Of a grete lady hondred yeres ago

In the hande of stele this swerde was closed so


No maner persone / mayes touche this swerde

But one persone / chosen by god in dede

Of this ladyes kynred / not to be aferde

To touche this hande / his mater for to spede

And to vndo it / and take it for his mede

But yf that he / be not of the lygnage

The hand wyll sle hym / after olde vsage

This ryall swerde / that called is preprudence

Who can it gette / it hath these vertues thre

Fyrst to wynne ryght / without longe resystence

Secondly encreaseth / all trouth and amyte

Thyrdly of the berer through duplycyte

Be pryuely fals / to the ordre of chyualry

The swerdes crosse wyll crase / and shewe it openly

This shelde also / who so dooth it bere

Whiche of olde tyme / was called perceueraunce

Hath thre vertues / fyrst he nedeth not fere

Ony grete blodeshede / by wronge incombraunce

Secondly / it wolde make good apparaunce

By hete vnto hym / to gyue hym warnynge

To be redy / agayst his enmyes comynge

The thyrde is this / yf this calenge be ryghtfull

Neuer no swerde / shall through his harneys perce

Nor make hym blody / with woundes rufull

For he there strength / may ryghtfully reuerce

Yet moreouer / as I do well reherce

This ryall shelde / in what place it be borne

Shall soone be wonne / and shall not be forlorne


These thynges sene / to the thyrde myroure clere

I went anone / and in it loked ryght ofte

Where in my syght / dyde wonderly appere

The fyrmament / with the sonne all alofte

The wynde not grete / but blowynge fayre and softe

And besyde the sonne / I sawe a meruaylous sterre

With beames twayne / the whiche were cast aferre

The one turnynge towarde the sterre agayne

The other stretched ryght towarde Phebus

To beholde this sterre / I was somwhat fayne

But than I mused with herte full dolorous

Whyder it sygnyfyed thynges good or peryllous

Thus longe I studyed / tyll at the last I thought

What it sholde meane / as in my herte I sought

This sterre it sygnyfyeth the resynge of a knyght

The bowynge beame agayne so tournynge

Betokened rattonnes of them whiche by myght

Wolde hym resyst by theyr wronge resystynge

The beame towarde Phebus clerely shynynge

Betokened many meruaylous fyres grete

On them to lyght that wolde his purpose lete

In the fyre clerest of euery element

God hath appered vnto many a one

Inspyrynge them / with grete wytte refulgent

Who lyst to rede many dayes agone

Many one wryteth trouthe / yet cõforte hath he none

Wherfore I fere me / lyke a swarme of bees

Wylde fyre wyll lyght amonge a thousande pees


¶ Sepe expugnauerunt me a iuuentute mea: et enim non potuerunt michi.

As the cantycles maketh good mencyon

They haue oft expugned me / syth my yonge age

Yet coude they haue me / in theyr domynyon

Though many a one / vnhappely do rage

They shall haue sorowe that shytte me in a cage

In a grete dyspyte of the holy goost

He maye them brenne / theyr calkynge is but loost

¶ Supra dorsum meũ fabricauerũt peccatores: prolongauerũt iniquitatẽ suã.

Vpon my backe synners hath fabrysed

They haue prolonged theyr grete inyquyte

From daye to daye it is not my mynysshed

Wherfore for vengeaunce by grete extremyte

It cryeth aboue / now vnto the deyte

Whiche that his mynysters haue suffred so longe

To lyue in synne and euyll wayes wronge

Whan I had perceyued euery maner thynge

Of this ryall myrour / accordynge to effecte

Remembrynge the verses / of the olde saynge

Whiche in my mynde I dyde well coniecte

Than to the swerde / I thought to haue respecte

Ryght so I went / than at all auenture

Vnto the hande / that helde the swerde so sure

I felte the hande / of the stell so fyne

Me thought it quaked / the fyngers gan to stretche

I thought by that / I came than of the lyne

Of the grete lady / that fyrst the swerde dyde fetche

The swerdes pomell / I began to ketche

The hande swerued / but yet neuer the lesse

I helde them bothe / by excellent prowes

And at the last / I felte the hande departe

The swerde I toke / with all my besynesse

So I subdued / all the magykes arte

And founde the scauberde / of meruaylous rychesse

After that I toke the shelde doune doubtlesse

Kyssynge the swerde / and the shelde ofte I wys

Thankynge god / the whiche was cause of this

Gladde was I than / of my ryall floure

Of my swerde and shelde / I reioyced also

It pacyfyed well / my inwarde doloure

But fro my ladyes beaute / my mynde myght not go

I loued her surely / for I loued no mo

Thus my fayre floure / and my swerde and shelde

With eyen ryght meke / full often I behelde

Than sayd I (well) this is an happy chaunce

I trust now shortly / my lady for to se

O fortune sayd I / whiche brought me on the daũce

Fyrst to beholde her ryght excellent beaute

And so by chaunce / hast hyder conueyde me

Getynge me also / my floure my shelde and swerde

I nought mystrust the / why sholde I be aferde

O ryght fayre lady / as the bryght daye sterre

Shyneth before the rysynge of the sonne

Castynge her beames / all aboute aferre

Exylynge grete wyndes / and the mystes donne

So ryght fayre lady / where as thou doost wonne

Thy beautefull bryghtnes / thy vertue and thy grace

Dooth clere Illumyne / all thy boure and place


The gentyll herte is plonged in dystresse

Dooth walowe and tomble in somers nyght

Replete with wo / and mortall heuynesse

Tyll that aurora / with her beames bryght

Aboute the fyrmament / castynge her pured lyght

Ageynst the rysynge / of refulgent tytan

Whan that declyneth / the fayre dame dyan

Than dooth the louer / out of this bedde aryse

With wofull mynde / beholdynge than the ayre

Alas he sayth / what nedeth to deuyse

Ony suche pastyme / here for to repayre

Where is my conforte / where is my lady fayre

Where is my Ioye / where is now all my boote

Where is she nowe / that persed my herte rote

This maye I saye / vnto my owne dere loue

My goodly lady / fayrest and moost swete

In all my bokes / fayre fortune doth moue

For a place of grace / where that we sholde mete

Also my bokes full pryuely you grete

The effectes therof / dooth well dayly ensue

By meruelous thynges / to proue them to be true

The more my payne / the more my loue encreaseth

The more my Ieopardy / the truer is my harte

The more I suffre / the lesse the fyre releasheth

The more I complayne the more is my smarte

The more I se her / the sharper is the darte

The more I wryte / the more my teeres dystyll

The more I loue / the hotter is my wyll


O moost fayre lady / yonge / good / and vertuous

I knewe full well / neuer your countenaunce

Shewed me ony token / to make me amerous

But what for that / your prudent gouernaunce

Hath enrached my herte / for to gyue attendaunce

your excellent beaute / you coude no thynge lette

To cause my herte vpon you to be sette

My ryght fayre lady / yf at the chesse I drawe

My selfe I knowe not / as a cheke frome a mate

But god aboue the whiche sholde haue in awe

By drede truely euery true estate

He maye take vengeaunce / though he tary late

He knoweth my mynde / he knoweth my remedy

He maye reuenge me / he knoweth my Ieoperdy

O thou fayre fortune / torne not fro me thy face

Remembre my sorowe / for my goodly lady

My tendre herte / she dooth full oft enbrace

And as of that it is no wonder why

For vpon her is all my desteny

Submyttynge me / vnto her gracyous wyll

Me for to saue or sodaynly to spyll

O ryght fayre lady of grene flourynge age

you can not do but as your frendes agre

your wyte is grete / you mekenes / dooth not swage

Exyle dysdayne / and be ruled by pety

The frenshe man sayth / that shall be shall be

yf that I dye / louer was neuer none

Deyed in this worlde / for a fayrer persone


Your beaute causeth all my amyte

Why sholde your beaute / to my dethe condyscende

your vertue and mekenes / dyde so arest me

Why sholde ye than to dame dysdayne intende

your prudence your goodnes / dooth mercy extende

Why sholde ye than enclyne to cruelte

Your grace I trust wyll non extremyte

A dere herte I maye complayne ryght longe

you here me not / nor se me not arayed

Nor causes my paynes for to be stronge

It was myn eyes / that made me fyrst dysmayde

With stroke of loue / that coude not me delaye

My ryght fayre lady / my herte is colde and faynt

Wolde now to god / that you knewe my complaynte

Thus as I mourned I herde a lady speke

I loked asyde I sawe my lady gracyous

My herte than fared / as it sholde breke

For perfyte Ioye whiche was solacyous

Before her grace / ryght swete and precyous

I kneled doune / saynge with all mekenesse

Please it your grace / & excellent noblenes

No dyspleasure to take for my beynge here

For fortune me brought / to this place ryall

Where I haue wonne this floure so vertuous & dere

This swerde and shelde / also not peregall

Towadre hym aduenture to be tryumphall

And now by fortunes desteny and fate

Do here my duety vnto your hygh estate


Ihesu sayd she than / who hadde wende to fynde

Your selfe walkynge / in this place all alone

Full lytell thought I / ye were not in my mynde

What is the cause / that ye make suche mone

I thynke some thynge / be from you past and gone

But I wonder / how that ye dyde attayne

This floure / this swerde / the shelde also certayne

For by a lady in the antyquyte

They were made to a meruaylous entente

That none sholde get them / but by auctoryte

Whiche onely by fortune / sholde hyder be sent

Full many knyghtes by entendement

Hath them aduentred / to haue them in dede

But all was vayne / for they myght neuer spede

Wherfore surely / ye are moche fortunate

Them for to wynne by your aduenture

But it was no thynge to you ordynate

And you dyde well / to put your selfe in vre

To proue the Ieoperdy / whiche hath made you sure

Leue all your mournynge / for there is no wyght

Hath greter cause / for to be gladde and lyght

I behelde well her demure countenaunce

Vnto her swete wordes / gyuynge good audyence

And than I marked in my remembraunce

Her pleasaunt apparayle / with all my dylygence

Whiche was full ryche of meruaylous excellence

Fyrst alofte her forheed / full properly was dressed

Vnder her orellettes / her golden heere well tressed


About her necke whyte as ony lyly

A prety chayne of the fynest golde

Some lynkes with grene enameled truely

And some were blacke / the whiche I dyde beholde

The vaynes blewe / in her fayre necke well tolde

With her swete vysage tydynges to my herte

That sodynly my thoughtes were asterte

Her gowne was golde / of the clothe of tyssewe

With armyns poudred / and wyde sleues pendaunt

Her kyrtell grene of the fyne satyn newe

To bere her longe trayne / was well attendaunt

Gentyll dame dylygence / neuer varyaunt

Than as touchynge her noble stature

I thynke there can be / no goodlyer creature

As of her aege / so tendre and grene

Fayre / gracyous / prudent / and louynge humylyte

Her vertue shyneth / beynge bryght and shene

In her is nether pryde ne sybtylte

Her gentyll herte / enclyneth to bounte

Thus beaute / godlynesse / vertue / grace / and wytte

With bounte and mekenesse / in this lady is knytte

¶ Amour.

Thus whan my eyes hadde beholde her wele

Madame I sayd how may I now be gladde

But sygh and sorowe with herte euery dele

Longe haue I loued / and lytell conforte hadde

Wherfore no wonder though that I be sadde

Your tendre age / full lytell knoweth ywys

To loue vnloued / what wofull payne it is


¶ Pucell.

Thoughe that I be yonge / yet I haue perceueraũce

That ther is no lady / yf that she gentyll be

And ye haue with her ony acquayntaunce

And after cast / to her your amyte

Grounded on honoure / without duplycyte

I wolde thynke in mynde / she wolde condescende

To graunt your fauoure / yf ye none yll intende

¶ Amour.

A fayre lady I haue vnto her spoken

That I loue best / and she dooth not it knowe

Though vnto her / I haue my mynde broken

Her beaute clere / dooth my herte ouerthrowe

Whan I do se her / my herte booth sobbe I trowe

Wherfore fayre lady / all dysparate of conforte

I speke vnknowen / I must to wo resorte

¶ Pucell.

Me thynke ye speke / now vnder parable

Do ye se her here / whiche is cause of your grefe

Yf ye so dyde / that sholde I be able

As in this cause / te be to your relefe

Ryght lothe I were to se your myschefe

For ye knowe well / what case that I am yn

Peryllous it wolde be / or that ye coude me wyne

¶ Amour.

Madame sayd I / thoughe myn eyes se her not

Made dymme wt wepynde / & with grete wo togyder

Yet dooth myn herte / at this tyme I wote

Her excellent beaute / ryght inwardly concyder

Good fortune I trust / hath now brought me hyder

To se your mekenes / whiche doth her rapyre

Whose swete conforte / dooth kepe me fro dyspayre.


¶ Pucell.

Of late I sawe a boke of your makynge

Called the pastyme of pleasure / whiche is wõderous

For I thynge and you had not ben in louynge

Ye coude neuer haue made it so sentencyous

I redde there all your passage daungerous

Wherfore I wene for the fayre ladyes sake

That ye dyd loue / ye dyde that boke so make

¶ Amour.

Forsothe madame / I dyde compyle that boke

As the holy goost / I call vnto wytnes

But ygnorauntly / who so lyst to loke

Many meruelous thynges in it / I do expresse

My lyue and loue / to enserche well doublesse

Many a one doth wryte / I knowe not what in dede

Yet the effecte dooth folowe / the trouthe for to spede

¶ Pucell.

I graunt you well / all that whiche you saye

But tell me who it is / that ye loue so sure

I promyse you that I wyll not bewraye

Her name truely to ony creature

Pyte it is / you sholde suche wo endure

I do perceyue / she is not ryght ferre hence

Whiche that ye loue / withouten neclygence

¶ Amour.

Surely madame / syth it pleaseth your hyghnesse

And your honour to speke so nobly

It is your grace / that hath the intresse

In my true herte / with loue so feruently

Ryght longe ago / your beaute sodanly

Entred my mynde / and hath not syth dekayde

With feruent loue / moost wofully arayde


¶ Pucell.

And is it I / that is cause of your loue

yf it so be I can not helpe your payne

It sholde be harde / to gete to your aboue

Me for to loue / I dyde not you constrayne

ye knowe what I am / I knowe not you certayne

I am as past your loue to specyfy

Why wyll ye loue where is no remedy

¶ Amour.

A madame you are cause of my languysshe

ye maye me helpe / yf that it to you please

To haue my purpose / my herte dooth not menysshe

Thoughe I was seke / ye knewe not my dysease

I am not hole / your mercy maye me ease

To proue what I am / the holy goost werke styll

My lyfe and deth / I yelde nowe to your wyll

¶ Pucell.

Fortune me thynke / is meruaylous fauorable

To you by getynge / of this ryall floure

Hauynge this swerde / and shelde so profytable

In mortall daungers / to be your socoure

But as touchynge your loue and fauoure

I can not graunt / neyther fyrst ne last

ye knowe what I am / ye knowe my loue is past

¶ Amour.

Madame the floure / the swerde and shelde also

Whiche fortune gate me / are not halfe so dere

As your persone the cause of my wo

Whose grace and beaute / shyneth so ryght clere

That in my herte your beaute doth appere

Nothynge is past / but that fortunes pleasure

May call it agayne / in the tyme future


¶ Pucell.

I denye not but that your dedes do shewe

By meruaylous prowes / truely your gentylnesse

To make you a carter / there were not afewe

But tho by crafte / whiche thought you to oppresse

To accombre them selfe applye the besynesse

yet thynke not you / so soone to se a cradle

I graunt you loue / whan ye were golden sadle

¶ Amour.

Madame truely / it is oft dayly sene

Many a one dooth trust / his fortune to take

From an other man / to make hym blynde I wene

Whiche blyndeth hym / and dooth his pompe aslake

Often some hye / do fall alowe and quake

Ryght so maye they / whiche dyde fyrst prepence

My wo and payne for all theyr yll scyence

¶ Pucell.

To loue me so / whiche knoweth my persone

And my frendes eke / me thynke ye are not wyse

As now of me conforte haue ye none

Wherefore this answere / maye to you suffyse

I can not do / but as my frendes deuyse

I can no thynge do / but as they accorde

They haue me promest / to a myghty lorde

¶ Amour.

Madame in this worlde ben but thynges twayne

As loue and hate / ye knowe your selfe the trouthe

yf I sholde hate you / deth I were worthy playne

Than had you cause / with me to be wrothe

To deserue dyspleasure / my herte wolde be lothe

Wherfore fayre lady / I yelde at this hower

To your mekenes / my herte my loue and power


¶ Pucell.

I thynke you past all chyldy ygnoraunce

But gladde I am / yf prudence be your guyde

Grace cometh often after gouernaunce

Beware of foly / beware of inwarde pryde

Clymbe not to fast / but yet fortune abyde

For your loue I thanke you / yf trouthe haue it fyxte

As with yll thought / neuer for to be myxte

¶ Amour.

Surely my mynde / nor yet my purpose

In ony cause by foly dyde vary

Neuer doynge thynke open ne close

That to your honour sholde be contrary

As yet for grace I am content to tary

For myn enmyes fraude and subtylnes

Whiche pryuely begyne theyr owne vnhapynesse

¶ Pucell.

Now of trouthe / I do vnto you tell

The thynge yt to your enmyes is moost dyspleasure

Is for to gouerne you by wysdome ryght well

That causeth enuy in theyr hertes to endure

But be ye pacyent and ye shall be sure

Suche thynges as the ordayne vnto your gref

Wyll lyght on them to theyr owne myschefe

¶ Amour.

Surely I thynke / I suffred well the phyppe

The nette also dydde teche me on the waye

But me to bere I trowe they lost a lyppe

For the lyfte hande extendyd my Iournaye

And not to call me for my sporte and playe

Wherfore by foly yf that they do synne

The holy goost maye well the batayle wynne


¶ Pucell.

Yf fortune wolde / for the payne ye haue taken

I wolde graũt you loue / but it may nothỹge auayle

My loue is past / it can not be forsaken

Therfore I praye you leue your trauayle

Full lothe I were / your deth to bewayle

There is no nette / nor no tempted snare

But ye them knowe / wherfore ye maye beware

¶ Amour.

The snares and nettes / set in sondrye maner

Doone in tyme past / made many a byrde a dawe

The tempted gynnes / were sette so cyrculer

But euermore it is an olde sayd sawe

Examples past dooth theche one to withdrawe

Frome all suche perylles / wherfore than maye I

By grace of god / beware full parfytly

¶ Pucell.

Ye saye the trouthe / and I do not submytte

My wyll and thought to the lady Venus

As she is goddesse / and doth true loue knytte

Ryght so to determyne / the mater betwene vs

With assent of fortune / so good gracyous

Besechynge you now for to holde you styll

For these two ladyes / maye your mynde fulfyll

¶ Amour.

My ryght dere lady / I do therto consente

Swete are your wordes they confort my thought

Of Venus and fortune / I abyde the Iugement

But ryght dere lady / whome I longe haue sought

Forgete me not / remembre loue dere bought

Of my herte / I wolde ye knewe the preuyte

Than as I thynke ye wolde remembre me


....that came ladyes ..yght ....

....she our talkynge / þt tyme dyde surrendre

....madame / ye do well here repayre

To that goodly temple / for to take the ayre

With that sodaynly / I truely awoke

Takynge pen and ynke to make this lytell boke

¶ Go lytell treaty se submyte the humbly

To euery lady / excusynge thy neclygence

Besechynge them / to remembre truely

How thou doost purpose to do thy dylygence

To make suche bokes by true experyence

From daye to daye theyr pastyme to attende

Rather to dye / than thau wolde them offende

by me Wynkyn de


W.C. initials, Wynkyn de Worde symbol

About the Text

Abbreviations are shown as superscripts. The word shown as ye was printed with the e directly above the y: yͤ. Not all browsers can display this form correctly. Abbreviations in t (what, that) were similarly written; note that the second occurrence of þt uses true thorn, not the more common y. The “-us” abbreviation, similar to a small 9, is shown here as us. In verse, abbreviations were used only when a long line had to be shortened to fit the width of the page.

Damaged Words were reconstructed based on surviving parts of letters. Some reconstructions are more secure than others.


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Page B.i.

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Page B.i.verso
The word “tens” was used in the text because it occurs elsewhere in conjunction with “future”.

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Other possible pairs:   text reconstruction

Page B.iii.

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Page B.iiii.verso
The words “mayes touche” are not completely satisfactory, but the text demands a word-final s.

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Page C.ii.

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Page C.iii.

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Page C.iii.verso
Note the õ abbreviation, indicating that the line spanned the full width of the page.

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Page C.iiii.

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Page C.v.

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Page C.v.verso
The complete line was compared against long lines from other pages to make sure the length was not excessive.

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Much of this is obviously conjectural. The likeliest endings for the first two lines are “tendre” and “fayre”.

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