The coforte of louers - The Comfort of Lovers
by Stephen Hawes
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forte 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 [the] seuenth (whose soule god pardon). In the seconde yere of the reygne of our most naturall souerayne lorde k[yn]ge Henry the eyght.

[P] The prohemye.

The gentyll poetes / vnder cloudy fygures Do touche a trouth / and cloke it subtylly Harde is to c[on]strue poetycall scryptures They are so fayned / & made s[en]t[en]cyously 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

[P] Finis prohemii.

Whan fayre was phebus / [with] 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 ordyna[un]ce 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 / [the] 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 greyho[un]des / 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 meruelo[us] fortune / which hast [in] 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 questy[on] 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 lou{e is} not fayned Alas for sorowe / why madest th{ou h}er 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

{Th}us as I mourned / I sawe than apper{e} 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 [the] tens future Beholde this glasse / se how he may endure

Many one {weneth / the future t}ens 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 h[an]ge / a floure of golde ryght fyne Wherin was set / an emeraude full bryght Ryght large and grete / whiche w[on]derfull dyde shyne That me thought it was / grete conforte to my syght Bordred with dyamondes / cast[yn]ge a meruaylo[us] 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 re}dy to cast downe By calculacyon / of the {cur}sed 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 H[an]ge a fayre swerde & shelde of meruailous excell[en]ce 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 / maye{s touch}e this swerde But one persone / chosen by {go}d in dede Of this ladyes kynred / n{ot} 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 c[om]forte hath he none Wherfore I fere me / lyke a swarme of bees Wylde fyre wyll lyght amonge a thousande pees

[P] 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

[P] Supra dorsum me[um] fabricauer[un]t peccatores: prolongauer[un]t iniquitat[em] su[am].

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

{An}d 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 da[un]ce 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

[P] 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

[P] Pucell.

{Tho}ughe that I be yonge / yet I haue perceuera[un]ce {Th}at 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

[P] 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

[P] 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

[P] Amour.

Madame sayd I / thoughe myn eyes se her not Made dymme [with] 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.

[P] Pucell.

Of late I sawe aboke of your makynge Called the pastyme of pleasure / whiche is w[on]d{erous} For I thynge and you had not ben in louynge Ye coude neuer haue made it so sentencyo{us} 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

[P] 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

[P] 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

[P] 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

[P] Pucell.

{A}nd is it I / that is cause of your loue {y}f 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 {y}e 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

[P] 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

[P] 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

[P] 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

[P] 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

[P] 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

[P] 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

[P] 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

[P] Pucell.

{I} thynke you past all chyldy ygnoraunce {But} gladde I am / yf prudence be your guyde {Gr}ace cometh often after gouernaunce {B}eware 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

[P] 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

[P] Pucell.

Now of trouthe / I do vnto you tell The thynge [that] 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

[P] 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

[P] Pucell.

Yf fortune wolde / for the payne ye haue taken I wolde gra[un]t you loue / but it may noth[yn]ge a{uayle} 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

[P] 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

[P] 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

[P] 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

* * * * * [** **] {th}at came ladyes [**] {yght} [** **] [** **] {s}he our talkynge / [that] tyme dyde surrendr{e} [** **] {ma}dame / ye do well here repayre {To that good}ly temple / for to take the ayre With that sodaynly / I truely awoke Takynge pen and ynke to make this lytell boke

[P] 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

[P] Enprynted by me Wynkyn de Worde.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Errors and Anomalies

Initial "y" was randomly printed as "Y" or "y". Initial "W" is also small, but distinguishable from "w" elsewhere in the line. Abbreviations such as [an] or [with] were used only in very long lines that would otherwise not have fit on the page.

Original text unchanged, with notes or possible correction in brackets:

[As in the main text, bracketed "with" is the "w^t" abbreviation.]

Good // wyse / and goodly / an holsome sterre of lyght [double lines in original] What sholde she do / with suceh a creature [suche?] Vnto no persone / I durst my her to vntwynde [my herte?] Soma had wened for to haue made an ende [Some?] Vaynfull was & is theyr mysse contryuynge [spacing unchanged] Calke not not goddes power / bryef not [the] tens future [douplication in original It kepeth close / neuet the auoutry [neuer?] Towadre hym aduenture to be tryumphall [Towarde?] Whan I do se her / my herte booth sobbe I trowe [dooth sobbe?] Made dymme [with] wepynde / & with grete wo togyder [wepynge?] For I thynge and you had not ben in louynge [thynke?] Rather to dye / than thau wolde them offende [spelling unchanged]

Changed text, with original in brackets:

Do touche a trouth / and cloke it subtylly [clokeit] Whan fayre was phebus / [with] his bemes bryght [phebns] Aboue .xx. woulues / dyde me touse and rent [Aboue.xx.woulues] Let the mount with all braunches swete [mouut] Of ryght noble knyghtes / hardy and chyualrous [knyghees] Loue may appetyte / by naturall eleccyon [natururall] To mete togyders / by wonderfull ordynaunce [wonderull] Good be my guyde / and saynt George vnto borowe [aud] Ouer whiche dyde h[an]ge / a floure of golde ryght fyne [foure] Seynge an ymage made full wonderly [madefull] For he there strength / may ryghtfully reuerce [steength] Sepe expugnauerunt me a iuuentute mea [expngnauerunt] In a grete dyspyte of the holy goost [grte] Her beaute clere / dooth my herte ouerthrowe [Her beuaet] Of late I sawe a boke of your makynge [aboke] Whiche that ye loue / withouten neclygence [wihtouten] May call it agayne / in the tyme future [futrure] Doone in tyme past / made many a byrde a dawe [abyrde]

Reconstructions and Missing Text:

Many one {weneth / the future t}ens to {brefe} "tens" may be "sens", but letter-spacing is wide I wolde gra[un]t you loue / but it may noth[yn]ge a{uayle} The end of this line is cut off; the text is very long, necessitating the [un] and [yn] abbreviations.

Reconstruction of the final stanza is mostly conjectural. The likeliest endings for the first two lines are "tendre" and "fayre".

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