The Online 
Medieval and Classical Library

Confessio Amantis
Tales of the Seven Deadly Sins

Incipit Liber Primus: Part 1

Online Medieval and Classical Library Release #4

Naturatus amor nature legibus orbem
     Subdit, et vnanimes concitat esse feras:
Huius enim mundi Princeps amor esse videtur,
     Cuius eget diues, pauper et omnis ope.
Sunt in agone pares amor et fortuna, que cecas
     Plebis ad insidias vertit vterque rotas.
Est amor egra salus, vexata quies, pius error,
     Bellica pax, vulnus dulce, suaue malum.

1      I may noght strecche up to the hevene  
2      Min hand, ne setten al in evene  
3      This world, which evere is in balance: 
4      It stant noght in my sufficance  
5      So grete thinges to compasse, 
6      Bot I mot lete it overpasse
7      And treten upon othre thinges.
8      Forthi the Stile of my writinges 
9      Fro this day forth I thenke change  
10     And speke of thing is noght so strange, 
11     Which every kinde hath upon honde,
12     And wherupon the world mot stonde,
13     And hath don sithen it began,  
14     And schal whil ther is any man;  
15     And that is love, of which I mene
16     To trete, as after schal be sene.
17     In which ther can noman him reule,
18     For loves lawe is out of reule,
19     That of tomoche or of tolite  
20     Welnyh is every man to wyte,
21     And natheles ther is noman 
22     In al this world so wys, that can
23     Of love tempre the mesure,  
24     Bot as it falth in aventure:  
25     For wit ne strengthe may noght helpe,
26     And he which elles wolde him yelpe  
27     Is rathest throwen under fote, 
28     Ther can no wiht therof do bote. 
29     For yet was nevere such covine,
30     That couthe ordeine a medicine
31     To thing which god in lawe of kinde 
32     Hath set, for ther may noman finde  
33     The rihte salve of such a Sor.
34     It hath and schal ben everemor
35     That love is maister wher he wile,
36     Ther can no lif make other skile;
37     For wher as evere him lest to sette, 
38     Ther is no myht which him may lette.
39     Bot what schal fallen ate laste,  
40     The sothe can no wisdom caste, 
41     Bot as it falleth upon chance;
42     For if ther evere was balance 
43     Which of fortune stant governed,  
44     I may wel lieve as I am lerned
45     That love hath that balance on honde,
46     Which wol no reson understonde.  
47     For love is blind and may noght se,  
48     Forthi may no certeinete
49     Be set upon his jugement,
50     Bot as the whiel aboute went  
51     He yifth his graces undeserved,
52     And fro that man which hath him served 
53     Fulofte he takth aweye his fees,  
54     As he that pleieth ate Dees,
55     And therupon what schal befalle  
56     He not, til that the chance falle,
57     Wher he schal lese or he schal winne.  
58     And thus fulofte men beginne,  
59     That if thei wisten what it mente,
60     Thei wolde change al here entente.  
61     And forto proven it is so,  
62     I am miselven on of tho, 
63     Which to this Scole am underfonge.  
64     For it is siththe go noght longe, 
65     As forto speke of this matiere,
66     I may you telle, if ye woll hiere,
67     A wonder hap which me befell,  
68     That was to me bothe hard and fell,  
69     Touchende of love and his fortune,
70     The which me liketh to comune 
71     And pleinly forto telle it oute. 
72     To hem that ben lovers aboute 
73     Fro point to point I wol declare 
74     And wryten of my woful care,
75     Mi wofull day, my wofull chance,  
76     That men mowe take remembrance
77     Of that thei schall hierafter rede: 
78     For in good feith this wolde I rede, 
79     That every man ensample take  
80     Of wisdom which him is betake, 
81     And that he wot of good aprise
82     To teche it forth, for such emprise 
83     Is forto preise; and therfore I  
84     Woll wryte and schewe al openly  
85     How love and I togedre mette,  
86     Wherof the world ensample fette  
87     Mai after this, whan I am go,  
88     Of thilke unsely jolif wo,  
89     Whos reule stant out of the weie, 
90     Nou glad and nou gladnesse aweie, 
91     And yet it may noght be withstonde  
92     For oght that men may understonde.    
93     Upon the point that is befalle
94     Of love, in which that I am falle,
95     I thenke telle my matiere: 
96     Now herkne, who that wol it hiere,
97     Of my fortune how that it ferde. 
98     This enderday, as I forthferde
99     To walke, as I yow telle may,-
100    And that was in the Monthe of Maii,  
101    Whan every brid hath chose his make 
102    And thenkth his merthes forto make  
103    Of love that he hath achieved;
104    Bot so was I nothing relieved, 
105    For I was further fro my love 
106    Than Erthe is fro the hevene above,  
107    As forto speke of eny sped:
108    So wiste I me non other red,
109    Bot as it were a man forfare  
110    Unto the wode I gan to fare,
111    Noght forto singe with the briddes,  
112    For whanne I was the wode amiddes,
113    I fond a swote grene pleine,
114    And ther I gan my wo compleigne  
115    Wisshinge and wepinge al myn one, 
116    For other merthes made I none.
117    So hard me was that ilke throwe,  
118    That ofte sithes overthrowe
119    To grounde I was withoute breth; 
120    And evere I wisshide after deth,  
121    Whanne I out of my peine awok,   
122    And caste up many a pitous lok
123    Unto the hevene, and seide thus: 
124    "O thou Cupide, O thou Venus,  
125    Thou god of love and thou goddesse,  
126    Wher is pite? wher is meknesse?  
127    Now doth me pleinly live or dye,  
128    For certes such a maladie  
129    As I now have and longe have hadd,
130    It myhte make a wisman madd,
131    If that it scholde longe endure. 
132    O Venus, queene of loves cure, 
133    Thou lif, thou lust, thou mannes hele,  
134    Behold my cause and my querele,
135    And yif me som part of thi grace, 
136    So that I may finde in this place
137    If thou be gracious or non."  
138    And with that word I sawh anon
139    The kyng of love and qweene bothe;  
140    Bot he that kyng with yhen wrothe
141    His chiere aweiward fro me caste, 
142    And forth he passede ate laste.  
143    Bot natheles er he forth wente
144    A firy Dart me thoghte he hente  
145    And threw it thurgh myn herte rote: 
146    In him fond I non other bote,  
147    For lenger list him noght to duelle.
148    Bot sche that is the Source and Welle  
149    Of wel or wo, that schal betide  
150    To hem that loven, at that tide  
151    Abod, bot forto tellen hiere  
152    Sche cast on me no goodly chiere:
153    Thus natheles to me sche seide,
154    "What art thou, Sone?" and I abreide
155    Riht as a man doth out of slep,
156    And therof tok sche riht good kep
157    And bad me nothing ben adrad: 
158    Bot for al that I was noght glad, 
159    For I ne sawh no cause why.
160    And eft scheo asketh, what was I:
161    I seide, "A Caitif that lith hiere: 
162    What wolde ye, my Ladi diere? 
163    Schal I ben hol or elles dye?"
164    Sche seide, "Tell thi maladie:
165    What is thi Sor of which thou pleignest?  
166    Ne hyd it noght, for if thou feignest,  
167    I can do the no medicine." 
168    "Ma dame, I am a man of thyne, 
169    That in thi Court have longe served, 
170    And aske that I have deserved, 
171    Some wele after my longe wo." 
172    And sche began to loure tho,
173    And seide, "Ther is manye of yow 
174    Faitours, and so may be that thow
175    Art riht such on, and be feintise
176    Seist that thou hast me do servise."
177    And natheles sche wiste wel,
178    Mi world stod on an other whiel  
179    Withouten eny faiterie: 
180    Bot algate of my maladie
181    Sche bad me telle and seie hir trowthe.
182    "Ma dame, if ye wolde have rowthe," 
183    Quod I, "than wolde I telle yow."
184    "Sey forth," quod sche, "and tell me how; 
185    Schew me thi seknesse everydiel."
186    "Ma dame, that can I do wel,
187    Be so my lif therto wol laste."  
188    With that hir lok on me sche caste,  
189    And seide: "In aunter if thou live,  
190    Mi will is ferst that thou be schrive; 
191    And natheles how that it is
192    I wot miself, bot for al this 
193    Unto my prest, which comth anon,  
194    I woll thou telle it on and on,
195    Bothe all thi thoght and al thi werk.    
196    O Genius myn oghne Clerk,
197    Com forth and hier this mannes schrifte," 
198    Quod Venus tho; and I uplifte 
199    Min hefd with that, and gan beholde 
200    The selve Prest, which as sche wolde
201    Was redy there and sette him doun
202    To hiere my confessioun.
203    This worthi Prest, this holy man 
204    To me spekende thus began,  
205    And seide: "Benedicite,  
206    Mi Sone, of the felicite
207    Of love and ek of all the wo  
208    Thou schalt thee schrive of bothe tuo. 
209    What thou er this for loves sake 
210    Hast felt, let nothing be forsake,
211    Tell pleinliche as it is befalle."  
212    And with that word I gan doun falle 
213    On knees, and with devocioun  
214    And with full gret contricioun
215    I seide thanne: "Dominus,
216    Min holi fader Genius,
217    So as thou hast experience 
218    Of love, for whos reverence
219    Thou schalt me schriven at this time,
220    I prai the let me noght mistime  
221    Mi schrifte, for I am destourbed 
222    In al myn herte, and so contourbed,  
223    That I ne may my wittes gete,  
224    So schal I moche thing foryete:  
225    Bot if thou wolt my schrifte oppose 
226    Fro point to point, thanne I suppose,
227    Ther schal nothing be left behinde. 
228    Bot now my wittes ben so blinde,  
229    That I ne can miselven teche."  
230    Tho he began anon to preche,
231    And with his wordes debonaire 
232    He seide tome softe and faire:
233    "Thi schrifte to oppose and hiere,
234    My Sone, I am assigned hiere  
235    Be Venus the godesse above, 
236    Whos Prest I am touchende of love.  
237    Bot natheles for certein skile
238    I mot algate and nedes wile
239    Noght only make my spekynges  
240    Of love, bot of othre thinges, 
241    That touchen to the cause of vice.  
242    For that belongeth to thoffice
243    Of Prest, whos ordre that I bere, 
244    So that I wol nothing forbere, 
245    That I the vices on and on 
246    Ne schal thee schewen everychon; 
247    Wherof thou myht take evidence
248    To reule with thi conscience. 
249    Bot of conclusion final 
250    Conclude I wol in special  
251    For love, whos servant I am,
252    And why the cause is that I cam. 
253    So thenke I to don bothe tuo,  
254    Ferst that myn ordre longeth to,  
255    The vices forto telle arewe,
256    Bot next above alle othre schewe 
257    Of love I wol the propretes,
258    How that thei stonde be degrees  
259    After the disposicioun  
260    Of Venus, whos condicioun  
261    I moste folwe, as I am holde. 
262    For I with love am al withholde,  
263    So that the lasse I am to wyte,
264    Thogh I ne conne bot a lyte
265    Of othre thinges that ben wise:  
266    I am noght tawht in such a wise; 
267    For it is noght my comun us
268    To speke of vices and vertus,  
269    Bot al of love and of his lore,
270    For Venus bokes of nomore  
271    Me techen nowther text ne glose. 
272    Bot for als moche as I suppose
273    It sit a prest to be wel thewed,  
274    And schame it is if he be lewed,  
275    Of my Presthode after the forme  
276    I wol thi schrifte so enforme, 
277    That ate leste thou schalt hiere 
278    The vices, and to thi matiere 
279    Of love I schal hem so remene, 
280    That thou schalt knowe what thei mene. 
281    For what a man schal axe or sein 
282    Touchende of schrifte, it mot be plein, 
283    It nedeth noght to make it queinte,  
284    For trowthe hise wordes wol noght peinte: 
285    That I wole axe of the forthi, 
286    My Sone, it schal be so pleinly,  
287    That thou schalt knowe and understonde 
288    The pointz of schrifte how that thei stonde."
289    Betwen the lif and deth I herde  
290    This Prestes tale er I answerde,  
291    And thanne I preide him forto seie  
292    His will, and I it wolde obeie
293    After the forme of his apprise.  
294    Tho spak he tome in such a wise,  
295    And bad me that I scholde schrive    
296    As touchende of my wittes fyve,
297    And schape that thei were amended
298    Of that I hadde hem misdispended.
299    For tho be proprely the gates, 
300    Thurgh whiche as to the herte algates  
301    Comth alle thing unto the feire,  
302    Which may the mannes Soule empeire. 
303    And now this matiere is broght inne, 
304    Mi Sone, I thenke ferst beginne  
305    To wite how that thin yhe hath stonde,  
306    The which is, as I understonde,
307    The moste principal of alle,
308    Thurgh whom that peril mai befalle. 
309    And forto speke in loves kinde,
310    Ful manye suche a man mai finde,  
311    Whiche evere caste aboute here yhe,  
312    To loke if that thei myhte aspie 
313    Fulofte thing which hem ne toucheth, 
314    Bot only that here herte soucheth
315    In hindringe of an other wiht;
316    And thus ful many a worthi knyht 
317    And many a lusti lady bothe
318    Have be fulofte sythe wrothe. 
319    So that an yhe is as a thief  
320    To love, and doth ful gret meschief;
321    And also for his oghne part
322    Fulofte thilke firy Dart
323    Of love, which that evere brenneth,  
324    Thurgh him into the herte renneth:  
325    And thus a mannes yhe ferst
326    Himselve grieveth alther werst,
327    And many a time that he knoweth  
328    Unto his oghne harm it groweth.  
329    Mi Sone, herkne now forthi 
330    A tale, to be war therby
331    Thin yhe forto kepe and warde, 
332    So that it passe noght his warde.  
333    Ovide telleth in his bok
334    Ensample touchende of mislok,  
335    And seith hou whilom ther was on, 
336    A worthi lord, which Acteon
337    Was hote, and he was cousin nyh  
338    To him that Thebes ferst on hyh  
339    Up sette, which king Cadme hyhte.
340    This Acteon, as he wel myhte,  
341    Above alle othre caste his chiere,
342    And used it fro yer to yere,
343    With Houndes and with grete Hornes  
344    Among the wodes and the thornes  
345    To make his hunting and his chace:  
346    Where him best thoghte in every place  
347    To finde gamen in his weie, 
348    Ther rod he forto hunte and pleie.  
349    So him befell upon a tide  
350    On his hunting as he cam ride, 
351    In a Forest al one he was: 
352    He syh upon the grene gras 
353    The faire freisshe floures springe,  
354    He herde among the leves singe
355    The Throstle with the nyhtingale:
356    Thus er he wiste into a Dale  
357    He cam, wher was a litel plein,
358    All round aboute wel besein
359    With buisshes grene and Cedres hyhe;
360    And ther withinne he caste his yhe. 
361    Amidd the plein he syh a welle,
362    So fair ther myhte noman telle,
363    In which Diana naked stod  
364    To bathe and pleie hire in the flod 
365    With many a Nimphe, which hire serveth.
366    Bot he his yhe awey ne swerveth  
367    Fro hire, which was naked al,    
368    And sche was wonder wroth withal, 
369    And him, as sche which was godesse,  
370    Forschop anon, and the liknesse  
371    Sche made him taken of an Hert,
372    Which was tofore hise houndes stert, 
373    That ronne besiliche aboute
374    With many an horn and many a route,  
375    That maden mochel noise and cry: 
376    And ate laste unhappely 
377    This Hert his oghne houndes slowhe  
378    And him for vengance al todrowhe.
379    Lo now, my Sone, what it is
380    A man to caste his yhe amis,
381    Which Acteon hath dere aboght;
382    Be war forthi and do it noght.
383    For ofte, who that hiede toke, 
384    Betre is to winke than to loke.  
385    And forto proven it is so,  
386    Ovide the Poete also 
387    A tale which to this matiere  
388    Acordeth seith, as thou schalt hiere.  
389    In Metamor it telleth thus, 
390    How that a lord which Phorces  
391    Was hote, hadde dowhtres thre.
392    Bot upon here nativite  
393    Such was the constellacion, 
394    That out of mannes nacion  
395    Fro kynde thei be so miswent,  
396    That to the liknesse of Serpent  
397    Thei were bore, and so that on
398    Of hem was cleped Stellibon,
399    That other soster Suriale,  
400    The thridde, as telleth in the tale, 
401    Medusa hihte, and natheles 
402    Of comun name Gorgones    
403    In every contre ther aboute,
404    As Monstres whiche that men doute,
405    Men clepen hem; and bot on yhe
406    Among hem thre in pourpartie  
407    Thei hadde, of which thei myhte se,  
408    Now hath it this, now hath it sche; 
409    After that cause and nede it ladde,  
410    Be throwes ech of hem it hadde.  
411    A wonder thing yet more amis  
412    Ther was, wherof I telle al this:
413    What man on hem his chiere caste 
414    And hem behield, he was als faste
415    Out of a man into a Ston
416    Forschape, and thus ful manyon
417    Deceived were, of that thei wolde
418    Misloke, wher that thei ne scholde. 
419    Bot Perses that worthi knyht,
420    Whom Pallas of hir grete myht 
421    Halp, and tok him a Schield therto,  
422    And ek the god Mercurie also  
423    Lente him a swerd, he, as it fell,
424    Beyende Athlans the hihe hell 
425    These Monstres soghte, and there he fond  
426    Diverse men of thilke lond 
427    Thurgh sihte of hem mistorned were,  
428    Stondende as Stones hiere and there.
429    Bot he, which wisdom and prouesse
430    Hadde of the god and the godesse, 
431    The Schield of Pallas gan enbrace,
432    With which he covereth sauf his face,
433    Mercuries Swerd and out he drowh, 
434    And so he bar him that he slowh  
435    These dredful Monstres alle thre.
436    Lo now, my Sone, avise the, 
437    That thou thi sihte noght misuse:
438    Cast noght thin yhe upon Meduse,  
439    That thou be torned into Ston:
440    For so wys man was nevere non,   
441    Bot if he wel his yhe kepe 
442    And take of fol delit no kepe, 
443    That he with lust nys ofte nome,  
444    Thurgh strengthe of love and overcome. 
445    Of mislokynge how it hath ferd,
446    As I have told, now hast thou herd,  
447    My goode Sone, and tak good hiede.  
448    And overthis yet I thee rede  
449    That thou be war of thin heringe, 
450    Which to the Herte the tidinge
451    Of many a vanite hath broght,  
452    To tarie with a mannes thoght.
453    And natheles good is to hiere 
454    Such thing wherof a man may lere 
455    That to vertu is acordant,  
456    And toward al the remenant 
457    Good is to torne his Ere fro; 
458    For elles, bot a man do so, 
459    Him may fulofte mysbefalle.
460    I rede ensample amonges alle,  
461    Wherof to kepe wel an Ere  
462    It oghte pute a man in fere.  
463    A Serpent, which that Aspidis 
464    Is cleped, of his kynde hath this,
465    That he the Ston noblest of alle, 
466    The which that men Carbuncle calle,  
467    Berth in his hed above on heihte.
468    For which whan that a man be sleyhte,
469    The Ston to winne and him to daunte, 
470    With his carecte him wolde enchaunte,
471    Anon as he perceiveth that, 
472    He leith doun his on Ere al plat 
473    Unto the ground, and halt it faste,  
474    And ek that other Ere als faste  
475    He stoppeth with his tail so sore,
476    That he the wordes lasse or more   
477    Of his enchantement ne hiereth;  
478    And in this wise himself he skiereth,
479    So that he hath the wordes weyved
480    And thurgh his Ere is noght deceived.  
481    An othre thing, who that recordeth,  
482    Lich unto this ensample acordeth, 
483    Which in the tale of Troie I finde. 
484    Sirenes of a wonder kynde  
485    Ben Monstres, as the bokes tellen,
486    And in the grete Se thei duellen:
487    Of body bothe and of visage
488    Lik unto wommen of yong age
489    Up fro the Navele on hih thei be, 
490    And doun benethe, as men mai se,  
491    Thei bere of fisshes the figure. 
492    And overthis of such nature
493    Thei ben, that with so swete a stevene 
494    Lik to the melodie of hevene  
495    In wommanysshe vois thei singe,
496    With notes of so gret likinge, 
497    Of such mesure, of such musike,
498    Wherof the Schipes thei beswike  
499    That passen be the costes there. 
500    For whan the Schipmen leie an Ere
501    Unto the vois, in here avys
502    Thei wene it be a Paradys,  
503    Which after is to hem an helle.  
504    For reson may noght with hem duelle, 
505    Whan thei tho grete lustes hiere;
506    Thei conne noght here Schipes stiere,
507    So besiliche upon the note 
508    Thei herkne, and in such wise assote,
509    That thei here rihte cours and weie 
510    Foryete, and to here Ere obeie,
511    And seilen til it so befalle  
512    That thei into the peril falle,  
513    Where as the Schipes be todrawe,  
514    And thei ben with the Monstres slawe.  
515    Bot fro this peril natheles
516    With his wisdom king Uluxes
517    Ascapeth and it overpasseth;  
518    For he tofor the hond compasseth 
519    That noman of his compaignie  
520    Hath pouer unto that folie 
521    His Ere for no lust to caste; 
522    For he hem stoppede alle faste,
523    That non of hem mai hiere hem singe.
524    So whan they comen forth seilinge,
525    Ther was such governance on honde,
526    That thei the Monstres have withstonde 
527    And slain of hem a gret partie.  
528    Thus was he sauf with his navie,  
529    This wise king, thurgh governance.  
530    Wherof, my Sone, in remembrance  
531    Thou myht ensample taken hiere,
532    As I have told, and what thou hiere 
533    Be wel war, and yif no credence,  
534    Bot if thou se more evidence. 
535    For if thou woldest take kepe 
536    And wisly cowthest warde and kepe
537    Thin yhe and Ere, as I have spoke,
538    Than haddest thou the gates stoke
539    Fro such Sotie as comth to winne 
540    Thin hertes wit, which is withinne,  
541    Wherof that now thi love excedeth
542    Mesure, and many a peine bredeth.
543    Bot if thou cowthest sette in reule 
544    Tho tuo, the thre were eth to reule:
545    Forthi as of thi wittes five  
546    I wole as now nomore schryve,  
547    Bot only of these ilke tuo.
548    Tell me therfore if it be so,  
549    Hast thou thin yhen oght misthrowe? 
550    Mi fader, ye, I am beknowe,   
551    I have hem cast upon Meduse,
552    Therof I may me noght excuse: 
553    Min herte is growen into Ston, 
554    So that my lady therupon
555    Hath such a priente of love grave,
556    That I can noght miselve save.
557    What seist thou, Sone, as of thin Ere? 
558    Mi fader, I am gultyf there;  
559    For whanne I may my lady hiere,
560    Mi wit with that hath lost his Stiere: 
561    I do noght as Uluxes dede,  
562    Bot falle anon upon the stede, 
563    Wher as I se my lady stonde;  
564    And there, I do yow understonde,  
565    I am topulled in my thoght, 
566    So that of reson leveth noght, 
567    Wherof that I me mai defende. 
568    My goode Sone, god thamende:  
569    For as me thenketh be thi speche 
570    Thi wittes ben riht feer to seche.  
571    As of thin Ere and of thin yhe
572    I woll nomore specefie,  
573    Bot I woll axen overthis
574    Of othre thing how that it is.
575    Mi Sone, as I thee schal enforme, 
576    Ther ben yet of an other forme
577    Of dedly vices sevene applied, 
578    Wherof the herte is ofte plied
579    To thing which after schal him grieve. 
580    The ferste of hem thou schalt believe    
581    Is Pride, which is principal,  
582    And hath with him in special  
583    Ministres five ful diverse, 
584    Of whiche, as I the schal reherse,
585    The ferste is seid Ypocrisie. 
586    If thou art of his compaignie, 
587    Tell forth, my Sone, and schrif the clene.
588    I wot noght, fader, what ye mene:
589    Bot this I wolde you beseche,  
590    That ye me be som weie teche  
591    What is to ben an ypocrite;
592    And thanne if I be forto wyte, 
593    I wol beknowen, as it is.  
594    Mi Sone, an ypocrite is this,-
595    A man which feigneth conscience,  
596    As thogh it were al innocence, 
597    Withoute, and is noght so withinne; 
598    And doth so for he wolde winne
599    Of his desir the vein astat.  
600    And whanne he comth anon therat,  
601    He scheweth thanne what he was,
602    The corn is torned into gras,  
603    That was a Rose is thanne a thorn,
604    And he that was a Lomb beforn 
605    Is thanne a Wolf, and thus malice
606    Under the colour of justice
607    Is hid; and as the poeple telleth,
608    These ordres witen where he duelleth,
609    As he that of here conseil is, 
610    And thilke world which thei er this 
611    Forsoken, he drawth in ayein: 
612    He clotheth richesse, as men sein,
613    Under the simplesce of poverte,
614    And doth to seme of gret decerte 
615    Thing which is litel worth withinne:
616    He seith in open, fy! to Sinne,
617    And in secre ther is no vice    
618    Of which that he nis a Norrice:  
619    And evere his chiere is sobre and softe,
620    And where he goth he blesseth ofte,  
621    Wherof the blinde world he dreccheth.  
622    Bot yet al only he ne streccheth 
623    His reule upon religioun,
624    Bot next to that condicioun
625    In suche as clepe hem holy cherche  
626    It scheweth ek how he can werche 
627    Among tho wyde furred hodes,
628    To geten hem the worldes goodes. 
629    And thei hemself ben thilke same 
630    That setten most the world in blame, 
631    Bot yet in contraire of her lore 
632    Ther is nothing thei loven more; 
633    So that semende of liht thei werke  
634    The dedes whiche are inward derke.  
635    And thus this double Ypocrisie
636    With his devolte apparantie
637    A viser set upon his face,  
638    Wherof toward this worldes grace 
639    He semeth to be riht wel thewed,  
640    And yit his herte is al beschrewed. 
641    Bot natheles he stant believed,
642    And hath his pourpos ofte achieved  
643    Of worschipe and of worldes welthe,  
644    And takth it, as who seith, be stelthe 
645    Thurgh coverture of his fallas.  
646    And riht so in semblable cas  
647    This vice hath ek his officers
648    Among these othre seculers 
649    Of grete men, for of the smale
650    As for tacompte he set no tale,
651    Bot thei that passen the comune  
652    With suche him liketh to comune,  
653    And where he seith he wol socoure
654    The poeple, there he woll devoure;  
655    For now aday is manyon      
656    Which spekth of Peter and of John
657    And thenketh Judas in his herte. 
658    Ther schal no worldes good asterte  
659    His hond, and yit he yifth almesse  
660    And fasteth ofte and hiereth Messe: 
661    With mea culpa, which he seith,
662    Upon his brest fullofte he leith 
663    His hond, and cast upward his yhe,
664    As thogh he Cristes face syhe;
665    So that it seemeth ate syhte,  
666    As he al one alle othre myhte 
667    Rescoue with his holy bede.
668    Bot yet his herte in other stede 
669    Among hise bedes most devoute 
670    Goth in the worldes cause aboute, 
671    How that he myhte his warisoun
672    Encresce.  And in comparisoun 
673    Ther ben lovers of such a sort,
674    That feignen hem an humble port,  
675    And al is bot Ypocrisie, 
676    Which with deceipte and flaterie 
677    Hath many a worthi wif beguiled. 
678    For whanne he hath his tunge affiled,
679    With softe speche and with lesinge,  
680    Forth with his fals pitous lokynge,  
681    He wolde make a womman wene
682    To gon upon the faire grene,
683    Whan that sche falleth in the Mir.  
684    For if he may have his desir,  
685    How so falle of the remenant,  
686    He halt no word of covenant;  
687    Bot er the time that he spede, 
688    Ther is no sleihte at thilke nede,
689    Which eny loves faitour mai,
690    That he ne put it in assai, 
691    As him belongeth forto done.  
692    The colour of the reyni Mone  
693    With medicine upon his face
694    He set, and thanne he axeth grace,
695    As he which hath sieknesse feigned. 
696    Whan his visage is so desteigned, 
697    With yhe upcast on hire he siketh,
698    And many a contenance he piketh,  
699    To bringen hire in to believe 
700    Of thing which that he wolde achieve,
701    Wherof he berth the pale hewe;
702    And for he wolde seme trewe,
703    He makth him siek, whan he is heil. 
704    Bot whanne he berth lowest the Seil, 
705    Thanne is he swiftest to beguile 
706    The womman, which that ilke while
707    Set upon him feith or credence.  
708    Mi Sone, if thou thi conscience  
709    Entamed hast in such a wise,
710    In schrifte thou thee myht avise 
711    And telle it me, if it be so. 
712    Min holy fader, certes no. 
713    As forto feigne such sieknesse
714    It nedeth noght, for this witnesse  
715    I take of god, that my corage 
716    Hath ben mor siek than my visage.
717    And ek this mai I wel avowe,
718    So lowe cowthe I nevere bowe  
719    To feigne humilite withoute,
720    That me ne leste betre loute  
721    With alle the thoghtes of myn herte;
722    For that thing schal me nevere asterte, 
723    I speke as to my lady diere,
724    To make hire eny feigned chiere. 
725    God wot wel there I lye noght, 
726    Mi chiere hath be such as my thoght;
727    For in good feith, this lieveth wel, 
728    Mi will was betre a thousendel
729    Than eny chiere that I cowthe.
730    Bot, Sire, if I have in my yowthe
731    Don other wise in other place, 
732    I put me therof in your grace:
733    For this excusen I ne schal,
734    That I have elles overal
735    To love and to his compaignie 
736    Be plein withoute Ypocrisie;  
737    Bot ther is on the which I serve, 
738    Althogh I may no thonk deserve,
739    To whom yet nevere into this day 
740    I seide onlyche or ye or nay,  
741    Bot if it so were in my thoght.  
742    As touchende othre seie I noght  
743    That I nam somdel forto wyte  
744    Of that ye clepe an ypocrite. 
745    Mi Sone, it sit wel every wiht
746    To kepe his word in trowthe upryht  
747    Towardes love in alle wise.
748    For who that wolde him wel avise 
749    What hath befalle in this matiere,
750    He scholde noght with feigned chiere
751    Deceive Love in no degre.  
752    To love is every herte fre, 
753    Bot in deceipte if that thou feignest  
754    And therupon thi lust atteignest, 
755    That thow hast wonne with thi wyle,  
756    Thogh it thee like for a whyle,
757    Thou schalt it afterward repente.
758    And forto prove myn entente,
759    I finde ensample in a Croniqe 
760    Of hem that love so beswike.  
761    It fell be olde daies thus, 
762    Whil themperour Tiberius
763    The Monarchie of Rome ladde,
764    Ther was a worthi Romein hadde
765    A wif, and sche Pauline hihte, 
766    Which was to every mannes sihte  
767    Of al the Cite the faireste,
768    And as men seiden, ek the beste. 
769    It is and hath ben evere yit,  
770    That so strong is no mannes wit,  
771    Which thurgh beaute ne mai be drawe 
772    To love, and stonde under the lawe  
773    Of thilke bore frele kinde, 
774    Which makth the hertes yhen blinde,  
775    Wher no reson mai be comuned: 
776    And in this wise stod fortuned
777    This tale, of which I wolde mene;
778    This wif, which in hire lustes grene
779    Was fair and freissh and tendre of age, 
780    Sche may noght lette the corage  
781    Of him that wole on hire assote. 
782    Ther was a Duck, and he was hote 
783    Mundus, which hadde in his baillie  
784    To lede the chivalerie  
785    Of Rome, and was a worthi knyht; 
786    Bot yet he was noght of such myht
787    The strengthe of love to withstonde, 
788    That he ne was so broght to honde,
789    That malgre wher he wole or no,
790    This yonge wif he loveth so,
791    That he hath put al his assay 
792    To wynne thing which he ne may
793    Gete of hire graunt in no manere, 
794    Be yifte of gold ne be preiere.  
795    And whanne he syh that be no mede
796    Toward hir love he myhte spede,
797    Be sleyhte feigned thanne he wroghte;  
798    And therupon he him bethoghte 
799    How that ther was in the Cite 
800    A temple of such auctorite, 
801    To which with gret Devocioun  
802    The noble wommen of the toun  
803    Most comunliche a pelrinage
804    Gon forto preie thilke ymage  
805    Which the godesse of childinge is,
806    And cleped was be name Ysis:  
807    And in hire temple thanne were,
808    To reule and to ministre there
809    After the lawe which was tho,  
810    Above alle othre Prestes tuo. 
811    This Duck, which thoghte his love gete, 
812    Upon a day hem tuo to mete 
813    Hath bede, and thei come at his heste; 
814    Wher that thei hadde a riche feste,  
815    And after mete in prive place 
816    This lord, which wolde his thonk pourchace,
817    To ech of hem yaf thanne a yifte, 
818    And spak so that be weie of schrifte
819    He drowh hem unto his covine,  
820    To helpe and schape how he Pauline  
821    After his lust deceive myhte. 
822    And thei here trowthes bothe plyhte, 
823    That thei be nyhte hire scholden wynne 
824    Into the temple, and he therinne 
825    Schal have of hire al his entente:  
826    And thus acorded forth thei wente.  
827    Now lest thurgh which ypocrisie  
828    Ordeigned was the tricherie,
829    Wherof this ladi was deceived.
830    These Prestes hadden wel conceived  
831    That sche was of gret holinesse; 
832    And with a contrefet simplesse,
833    Which hid was in a fals corage,
834    Feignende an hevenely message 
835    Thei come and seide unto hir thus:  
836    "Pauline, the god Anubus
837    Hath sent ous bothe Prestes hiere,
838    And seith he woll to thee appiere
839    Be nyhtes time himself alone,  
840    For love he hath to thi persone: 
841    And therupon he hath ous bede, 
842    That we in Ysis temple a stede
843    Honestely for thee pourveie,
844    Wher thou be nyhte, as we thee seie, 
845    Of him schalt take avisioun.  
846    For upon thi condicioun, 
847    The which is chaste and ful of feith,
848    Such pris, as he ous tolde, he leith,
849    That he wol stonde of thin acord;
850    And forto bere hierof record  
851    He sende ous hider bothe tuo."
852    Glad was hire innocence tho
853    Of suche wordes as sche herde, 
854    With humble chiere and thus answerde,
855    And seide that the goddes wille  
856    Sche was al redy to fulfille,  
857    That be hire housebondes leve 
858    Sche wolde in Ysis temple at eve 
859    Upon hire goddes grace abide,  
860    To serven him the nyhtes tide.
861    The Prestes tho gon hom ayein, 
862    And sche goth to hire sovereign,  
863    Of goddes wille and as it was 
864    Sche tolde him al the pleine cas, 
865    Wherof he was deceived eke, 
866    And bad that sche hire scholde meke 
867    Al hol unto the goddes heste. 
868    And thus sche, which was al honeste 
869    To godward after hire entente, 
870    At nyht unto the temple wente, 
871    Wher that the false Prestes were;
872    And thei receiven hire there  
873    With such a tokne of holinesse,
874    As thogh thei syhen a godesse, 
875    And al withinne in prive place
876    A softe bedd of large space
877    Thei hadde mad and encourtined,
878    Wher sche was afterward engined. 
879    Bot sche, which al honour supposeth, 
880    The false Prestes thanne opposeth,
881    And axeth be what observance  
882    Sche myhte most to the plesance  
883    Of godd that nyhtes reule kepe:  
884    And thei hire bidden forto slepe 
885    Liggende upon the bedd alofte, 
886    For so, thei seide, al stille and softe
887    God Anubus hire wolde awake.  
888    The conseil in this wise take, 
889    The Prestes fro this lady gon;
890    And sche, that wiste of guile non,
891    In the manere as it was seid  
892    To slepe upon the bedd is leid,
893    In hope that sche scholde achieve
894    Thing which stod thanne upon bilieve,
895    Fulfild of alle holinesse. 
896    Bot sche hath failed, as I gesse, 
897    For in a closet faste by
898    The Duck was hid so prively
899    That sche him myhte noght perceive; 
900    And he, that thoghte to deceive,  
901    Hath such arrai upon him nome, 
902    That whanne he wolde unto hir come,  
903    It scholde semen at hire yhe  
904    As thogh sche verrailiche syhe
905    God Anubus, and in such wise  
906    This ypocrite of his queintise
907    Awaiteth evere til sche slepte.  
908    And thanne out of his place he crepte  
909    So stille that sche nothing herde,
910    And to the bedd stalkende he ferde,  
911    And sodeinly, er sche it wiste,
912    Beclipt in armes he hire kiste:  
913    Wherof in wommanysshe drede
914    Sche wok and nyste what to rede; 
915    Bot he with softe wordes milde
916    Conforteth hire and seith, with childe 
917    He wolde hire make in such a kynde  
918    That al the world schal have in mynde  
919    The worschipe of that ilke Sone; 
920    For he schal with the goddes wone,
921    And ben himself a godd also.  
922    With suche wordes and with mo, 
923    The whiche he feigneth in his speche,
924    This lady wit was al to seche, 
925    As sche which alle trowthe weneth:  
926    Bot he, that alle untrowthe meneth,  
927    With blinde tales so hire ladde,  
928    That all his wille of hire he hadde.
929    And whan him thoghte it was ynowh,
930    Ayein the day he him withdrowh
931    So prively that sche ne wiste 
932    Wher he becom, bot as him liste  
933    Out of the temple he goth his weie. 
934    And sche began to bidde and preie
935    Upon the bare ground knelende, 
936    And after that made hire offrende,
937    And to the Prestes yiftes grete  
938    Sche yaf, and homward be the Strete.
939    The Duck hire mette and seide thus: 
940    "The myhti godd which Anubus  
941    Is hote, he save the, Pauline, 
942    For thou art of his discipline
943    So holy, that no mannes myht  
944    Mai do that he hath do to nyht
945    Of thing which thou hast evere eschuied.  
946    Bot I his grace have so poursuied,
947    That I was mad his lieutenant:
948    Forthi be weie of covenant 
949    Fro this day forth I am al thin,  
950    And if thee like to be myn, 
951    That stant upon thin oghne wille."  
952    Sche herde his tale and bar it stille,  
953    And hom sche wente, as it befell, 
954    Into hir chambre, and ther sche fell
955    Upon hire bedd to wepe and crie,  
956    And seide: "O derke ypocrisie, 
957    Thurgh whos dissimilacion  
958    Of fals ymaginacion  
959    I am thus wickedly deceived!  
960    Bot that I have it aperceived 
961    I thonke unto the goddes alle;
962    For thogh it ones be befalle,  
963    It schal nevere eft whil that I live,
964    And thilke avou to godd I yive." 
965    And thus wepende sche compleigneth,  
966    Hire faire face and al desteigneth  
967    With wofull teres of hire ije, 
968    So that upon this agonie
969    Hire housebonde is inne come,  
970    And syh how sche was overcome 
971    With sorwe, and axeth what hire eileth.
972    And sche with that hirself beweileth
973    Welmore than sche dede afore,  
974    And seide, "Helas, wifhode is lore  
975    In me, which whilom was honeste,  
976    I am non other than a beste,
977    Now I defouled am of tuo." 
978    And as sche myhte speke tho,
979    Aschamed with a pitous onde
980    Sche tolde unto hir housebonde
981    The sothe of al the hole tale, 
982    And in hire speche ded and pale  
983    Sche swouneth welnyh to the laste.  
984    And he hire in hise armes faste  
985    Uphield, and ofte swor his oth
986    That he with hire is nothing wroth,  
987    For wel he wot sche may ther noght: 
988    Bot natheles withinne his thoght 
989    His herte stod in sori plit,
990    And seide he wolde of that despit
991    Be venged, how so evere it falle, 
992    And sende unto hise frendes alle.
993    And whan thei weren come in fere, 
994    He tolde hem upon this matiere,
995    And axeth hem what was to done:  
996    And thei avised were sone,  
997    And seide it thoghte hem for the beste 
998    To sette ferst his wif in reste,  
999    And after pleigne to the king 
1000   Upon the matiere of this thing.  
1001   Tho was this wofull wif conforted
1002   Be alle weies and desported,
1003   Til that sche was somdiel amended;  
1004   And thus a day or tuo despended,  
1005   The thridde day sche goth to pleigne
1006   With many a worthi Citezeine,  
1007   And he with many a Citezein.  
1008   Whan themperour it herde sein, 
1009   And knew the falshed of the vice, 
1010   He seide he wolde do justice: 
1011   And ferst he let the Prestes take,
1012   And for thei scholde it noght forsake,  
1013   He put hem into questioun; 
1014   Bot thei of the suggestioun
1015   Ne couthen noght a word refuse,
1016   Bot for thei wolde hemself excuse,
1017   The blame upon the Duck thei leide. 
1018   Bot therayein the conseil seide  
1019   That thei be noght excused so, 
1020   For he is on and thei ben tuo, 
1021   And tuo han more wit then on,  
1022   So thilke excusement was non. 
1023   And over that was seid hem eke,
1024   That whan men wolden vertu seke,  
1025   Men scholde it in the Prestes finde;
1026   Here ordre is of so hyh a kinde,  
1027   That thei be Duistres of the weie:  
1028   Forthi, if eny man forsueie
1029   Thurgh hem, thei be noght excusable.
1030   And thus be lawe resonable 
1031   Among the wise jugges there
1032   The Prestes bothe dampned were,
1033   So that the prive tricherie
1034   Hid under fals Ipocrisie
1035   Was thanne al openliche schewed,  
1036   That many a man hem hath beschrewed.
1037   And whan the Prestes weren dede,  
1038   The temple of thilke horrible dede  
1039   Thei thoghten purge, and thilke ymage,  
1040   Whos cause was the pelrinage,  
1041   Thei drowen out and als so faste 
1042   Fer into Tibre thei it caste,  
1043   Wher the Rivere it hath defied:  
1044   And thus the temple purified  
1045   Thei have of thilke horrible Sinne,  
1046   Which was that time do therinne. 
1047   Of this point such was the juise, 
1048   Bot of the Duck was other wise:  
1049   For he with love was bestad,
1050   His dom was noght so harde lad;  
1051   For Love put reson aweie
1052   And can noght se the rihte weie. 
1053   And be this cause he was respited,
1054   So that the deth him was acquited,
1055   Bot for al that he was exiled, 
1056   For he his love hath so beguiled, 
1057   That he schal nevere come ayein: 
1058   For who that is to trowthe unplein,  
1059   He may noght failen of vengance. 
1060   And ek to take remembrance 
1061   Of that Ypocrisie hath wroght 
1062   On other half, men scholde noght 
1063   To lihtly lieve al that thei hiere,  
1064   Bot thanne scholde a wisman stiere  
1065   The Schip, whan suche wyndes blowe: 
1066   For ferst thogh thei beginne lowe,
1067   At ende thei be noght menable, 
1068   Bot al tobreken Mast and Cable,
1069   So that the Schip with sodein blast, 
1070   Whan men lest wene, is overcast; 
1071   As now fulofte a man mai se:  
1072   And of old time how it hath be
1073   I finde a gret experience,  
1074   Wherof to take an evidence 
1075   Good is, and to be war also
1076   Of the peril, er him be wo.
1077   Of hem that ben so derk withinne, 
1078   At Troie also if we beginne,
1079   Ipocrisie it hath betraied:
1080   For whan the Greks hadde al assaied, 
1081   And founde that be no bataille
1082   Ne be no Siege it myhte availe
1083   The toun to winne thurgh prouesse,
1084   This vice feigned of simplesce
1085   Thurgh sleyhte of Calcas and of Crise  
1086   It wan be such a maner wise.  
1087   An Hors of Bras thei let do forge
1088   Of such entaile, of such a forge, 
1089   That in this world was nevere man
1090   That such an other werk began.
1091   The crafti werkman Epius
1092   It made, and forto telle thus, 
1093   The Greks, that thoghten to beguile 
1094   The kyng of Troie, in thilke while  
1095   With Anthenor and with Enee,
1096   That were bothe of the Cite
1097   And of the conseil the wiseste,
1098   The richeste and the myhtieste,
1099   In prive place so thei trete  
1100   With fair beheste and yiftes grete  
1101   Of gold, that thei hem have engined;
1102   Togedre and whan thei be covined, 
1103   Thei feignen forto make a pes, 
1104   And under that yit natheles
1105   Thei schopen the destruccioun 
1106   Bothe of the kyng and of the toun.  
1107   And thus the false pees was take 
1108   Of hem of Grece and undertake, 
1109   And therupon thei founde a weie,  
1110   Wher strengthe myhte noght aweie, 
1111   That sleihte scholde helpe thanne;  
1112   And of an ynche a large spanne
1113   Be colour of the pees thei made,  
1114   And tolden how thei weren glade  
1115   Of that thei stoden in acord; 
1116   And for it schal ben of record,
1117   Unto the kyng the Gregois seiden, 
1118   Be weie of love and this thei preiden,  
1119   As thei that wolde his thonk deserve,
1120   A Sacrifice unto Minerve,
1121   The pes to kepe in good entente,  
1122   Thei mosten offre er that thei wente.  
1123   The kyng conseiled in this cas
1124   Be Anthenor and Eneas
1125   Therto hath yoven his assent: 
1126   So was the pleine trowthe blent  
1127   Thurgh contrefet Ipocrisie 
1128   Of that thei scholden sacrifie.  
1129   The Greks under the holinesse 
1130   Anon with alle besinesse
1131   Here Hors of Bras let faire dihte,
1132   Which was to sen a wonder sihte; 
1133   For it was trapped of himselve,
1134   And hadde of smale whieles twelve,
1135   Upon the whiche men ynowe  
1136   With craft toward the toun it drowe, 
1137   And goth glistrende ayein the Sunne.
1138   Tho was ther joie ynowh begunne,  
1139   For Troie in gret devocioun
1140   Cam also with processioun  
1141   Ayein this noble Sacrifise 
1142   With gret honour, and in this wise  
1143   Unto the gates thei it broghte.  
1144   Bot of here entre whan thei soghte,  
1145   The gates weren al to smale;  
1146   And therupon was many a tale,  
1147   Bot for the worschipe of Minerve, 
1148   To whom thei comen forto serve,
1149   Thei of the toun, whiche understode 
1150   That al this thing was do for goode, 
1151   For pes, wherof that thei ben glade, 
1152   The gates that Neptunus made  
1153   A thousend wynter ther tofore, 
1154   Thei have anon tobroke and tore; 
1155   The stronge walles doun thei bete,
1156   So that in to the large strete
1157   This Hors with gret solempnite
1158   Was broght withinne the Cite,  
1159   And offred with gret reverence,
1160   Which was to Troie an evidence
1161   Of love and pes for everemo.  
1162   The Gregois token leve tho 
1163   With al the hole felaschipe,
1164   And forth thei wenten into Schipe
1165   And crossen seil and made hem yare,  
1166   Anon as thogh thei wolden fare:  
1167   Bot whan the blake wynter nyht
1168   Withoute Mone or Sterre lyht  
1169   Bederked hath the water Stronde,  
1170   Al prively thei gon to londe  
1171   Ful armed out of the navie.
1172   Synon, which mad was here aspie  
1173   Withinne Troie, as was conspired, 
1174   Whan time was a tokne hath fired;
1175   And thei with that here weie holden, 
1176   And comen in riht as thei wolden, 
1177   Ther as the gate was tobroke. 
1178   The pourpos was full take and spoke:
1179   Er eny man may take kepe,
1180   Whil that the Cite was aslepe, 
1181   Thei slowen al that was withinne, 
1182   And token what thei myhten wynne 
1183   Of such good as was sufficant, 
1184   And brenden up the remenant.  
1185   And thus cam out the tricherie,
1186   Which under fals Ypocrisie 
1187   Was hid, and thei that wende pees
1188   Tho myhten finde no reles  
1189   Of thilke swerd which al devoureth. 
1190   Fulofte and thus the swete soureth,  
1191   Whan it is knowe to the tast: 
1192   He spilleth many a word in wast  
1193   That schal with such a poeple trete;
1194   For whan he weneth most beyete,
1195   Thanne is he schape most to lese.
1196   And riht so if a womman chese 
1197   Upon the wordes that sche hiereth
1198   Som man, whan he most trewe appiereth,  
1199   Thanne is he forthest fro the trowthe: 
1200   Bot yit fulofte, and that is rowthe, 
1201   Thei speden that ben most untrewe
1202   And loven every day a newe, 
1203   Wherof the lief is after loth 
1204   And love hath cause to be wroth. 
1205   Bot what man that his lust desireth 
1206   Of love, and therupon conspireth 
1207   With wordes feigned to deceive,
1208   He schal noght faile to receive  
1209   His peine, as it is ofte sene.
1210   Forthi, my Sone, as I thee mene,  
1211   It sit the wel to taken hiede 
1212   That thou eschuie of thi manhiede
1213   Ipocrisie and his semblant, 
1214   That thou ne be noght deceivant,  
1215   To make a womman to believe
1216   Thing which is noght in thi bilieve:
1217   For in such feint Ipocrisie
1218   Of love is al the tricherie,
1219   Thurgh which love is deceived ofte; 
1220   For feigned semblant is so softe, 
1221   Unethes love may be war.
1222   Forthi, my Sone, as I wel dar, 
1223   I charge thee to fle that vice,
1224   That many a womman hath mad nice;
1225   Bot lok thou dele noght withal.  
1226   Iwiss, fader, nomor I schal.  
1227   Now, Sone, kep that thou hast swore:
1228   For this that thou hast herd before 
1229   Is seid the ferste point of Pride:  
1230   And next upon that other side, 
1231   To schryve and speken overthis
1232   Touchende of Pride, yit ther is  
1233   The point seconde, I thee behote, 
1234   Which Inobedience is hote. 
1235   This vice of Inobedience
1236   Ayein the reule of conscience 
1237   Al that is humble he desalloweth, 
1238   That he toward his god ne boweth 
1239   After the lawes of his heste. 
1240   Noght as a man bot as a beste, 
1241   Which goth upon his lustes wilde, 
1242   So goth this proude vice unmylde, 
1243   That he desdeigneth alle lawe:
1244   He not what is to be felawe,
1245   And serve may he noght for pride;
1246   So is he badde on every side,  
1247   And is that selve of whom men speke, 
1248   Which wol noght bowe er that he breke. 
1249   I not if love him myhte plie,  
1250   For elles forto justefie
1251   His herte, I not what mihte availe. 
1252   Forthi, my Sone, of such entaile 
1253   If that thin herte be disposed,
1254   Tell out and let it noght be glosed:
1255   For if that thou unbuxom be
1256   To love, I not in what degree 
1257   Thou schalt thi goode world achieve.
1258   Mi fader, ye schul wel believe,
1259   The yonge whelp which is affaited
1260   Hath noght his Maister betre awaited,
1261   To couche, whan he seith "Go lowe," 
1262   That I, anon as I may knowe
1263   Mi ladi will, ne bowe more.
1264   Bot other while I grucche sore
1265   Of some thinges that sche doth,
1266   Wherof that I woll telle soth:
1267   For of tuo pointz I am bethoght,  
1268   That, thogh I wolde, I myhte noght  
1269   Obeie unto my ladi heste;  
1270   Bot I dar make this beheste,
1271   Save only of that ilke tuo 
1272   I am unbuxom of no mo.  
1273   Whan ben tho tuo? tell on, quod he. 
1274   Mi fader, this is on, that sche  
1275   Comandeth me my mowth to close,
1276   And that I scholde hir noght oppose 
1277   In love, of which I ofte preche,  
1278   Bot plenerliche of such a speche 
1279   Forbere, and soffren hire in pes.
1280   Bot that ne myhte I natheles  
1281   For al this world obeie ywiss;
1282   For whanne I am ther as sche is,  
1283   Though sche my tales noght alowe, 
1284   Ayein hir will yit mot I bowe, 
1285   To seche if that I myhte have grace:
1286   Bot that thing may I noght enbrace  
1287   For ought that I can speke or do;
1288   And yit fulofte I speke so, 
1289   That sche is wroth and seith, "Be stille."
1290   If I that heste schal fulfille
1291   And therto ben obedient, 
1292   Thanne is my cause fully schent,  
1293   For specheles may noman spede.
1294   So wot I noght what is to rede;  
1295   Bot certes I may noght obeie,  
1296   That I ne mot algate seie  
1297   Somwhat of that I wolde mene; 
1298   For evere it is aliche grene,  
1299   The grete love which I have,
1300   Wherof I can noght bothe save 
1301   My speche and this obedience: 
1302   And thus fulofte my silence
1303   I breke, and is the ferste point 
1304   Wherof that I am out of point 
1305   In this, and yit it is no pride. 
1306   Now thanne upon that other side  
1307   To telle my desobeissance,  
1308   Ful sore it stant to my grevance 
1309   And may noght sinke into my wit; 
1310   For ofte time sche me bit  
1311   To leven hire and chese a newe,
1312   And seith, if I the sothe knewe  
1313   How ferr I stonde from hir grace, 
1314   I scholde love in other place.
1315   Bot therof woll I desobeie;
1316   For also wel sche myhte seie,  
1317   "Go tak the Mone ther it sit,"
1318   As bringe that into my wit:
1319   For ther was nevere rooted tre,
1320   That stod so faste in his degre,  
1321   That I ne stonde more faste
1322   Upon hire love, and mai noght caste 
1323   Min herte awey, althogh I wolde. 
1324   For god wot, thogh I nevere scholde 
1325   Sen hir with yhe after this day,  
1326   Yit stant it so that I ne may 
1327   Hir love out of my brest remue.  
1328   This is a wonder retenue,
1329   That malgre wher sche wole or non
1330   Min herte is everemore in on,  
1331   So that I can non other chese, 
1332   Bot whether that I winne or lese, 
1333   I moste hire loven til I deie;
1334   And thus I breke as be that weie 
1335   Hire hestes and hir comandinges,  
1336   Bot trewliche in non othre thinges. 
1337   Forthi, my fader, what is more
1338   Touchende to this ilke lore
1339   I you beseche, after the forme
1340   That ye pleinly me wolde enforme, 
1341   So that I may myn herte reule 
1342   In loves cause after the reule.  
1343   Toward this vice of which we trete  
1344   Ther ben yit tweie of thilke estrete,
1345   Here name is Murmur and Compleignte:
1346   Ther can noman here chiere peinte,
1347   To sette a glad semblant therinne,
1348   For thogh fortune make hem wynne, 
1349   Yit grucchen thei, and if thei lese, 
1350   Ther is no weie forto chese,
1351   Wherof thei myhten stonde appesed.  
1352   So ben thei comunly desesed;  
1353   Ther may no welthe ne poverte 
1354   Attempren hem to the decerte  
1355   Of buxomnesse be no wise:  
1356   For ofte time thei despise 
1357   The goode fortune as the badde,
1358   As thei no mannes reson hadde, 
1359   Thurgh pride, wherof thei be blinde.
1360   And ryht of such a maner kinde
1361   Ther be lovers, that thogh thei have
1362   Of love al that thei wolde crave, 
1363   Yit wol thei grucche be som weie, 
1364   That thei wol noght to love obeie
1365   Upon the trowthe, as thei do scholde;  
1366   And if hem lacketh that thei wolde,  
1367   Anon thei falle in such a peine,  
1368   That evere unbuxomly thei pleigne
1369   Upon fortune, and curse and crie, 
1370   That thei wol noght here hertes plie
1371   To soffre til it betre falle. 
1372   Forthi if thou amonges alle
1373   Hast used this condicioun,  
1374   Mi Sone, in thi Confessioun
1375   Now tell me pleinly what thou art.  
1376   Mi fader, I beknowe a part, 
1377   So as ye tolden hier above 
1378   Of Murmur and Compleignte of love,
1379   That for I se no sped comende, 
1380   Ayein fortune compleignende
1381   I am, as who seith, everemo:  
1382   And ek fulofte tyme also,
1383   Whan so is that I se and hiere
1384   Or hevy word or hevy chiere
1385   Of my lady, I grucche anon;
1386   Bot wordes dar I speke non, 
1387   Wherof sche myhte be desplesed,
1388   Bot in myn herte I am desesed:
1389   With many a Murmur, god it wot,
1390   Thus drinke I in myn oghne swot,  
1391   And thogh I make no semblant,  
1392   Min herte is al desobeissant; 
1393   And in this wise I me confesse
1394   Of that ye clepe unbuxomnesse.
1395   Now telleth what youre conseil is.  
1396   Mi Sone, and I thee rede this, 
1397   What so befalle of other weie, 
1398   That thou to loves heste obeie
1399   Als ferr as thou it myht suffise:
1400   For ofte sithe in such a wise 
1401   Obedience in love availeth, 
1402   Wher al a mannes strengthe faileth; 
1403   Wherof, if that the list to wite 
1404   In a Cronique as it is write,  
1405   A gret ensample thou myht fynde,  
1406   Which now is come to my mynde.
1407   Ther was whilom be daies olde 
1408   A worthi knyht, and as men tolde 
1409   He was Nevoeu to themperour
1410   And of his Court a Courteour: 
1411   Wifles he was, Florent he hihte,  
1412   He was a man that mochel myhte,
1413   Of armes he was desirous,
1414   Chivalerous and amorous, 
1415   And for the fame of worldes speche,  
1416   Strange aventures forto seche, 
1417   He rod the Marches al aboute. 
1418   And fell a time, as he was oute,  
1419   Fortune, which may every thred
1420   Tobreke and knette of mannes sped,
1421   Schop, as this knyht rod in a pas,
1422   That he be strengthe take was, 
1423   And to a Castell thei him ladde,  
1424   Wher that he fewe frendes hadde: 
1425   For so it fell that ilke stounde 
1426   That he hath with a dedly wounde 
1427   Feihtende his oghne hondes slain 
1428   Branchus, which to the Capitain  
1429   Was Sone and Heir, wherof ben wrothe
1430   The fader and the moder bothe.
1431   That knyht Branchus was of his hond 
1432   The worthieste of al his lond, 
1433   And fain thei wolden do vengance 
1434   Upon Florent, bot remembrance 
1435   That thei toke of his worthinesse
1436   Of knyhthod and of gentilesse, 
1437   And how he stod of cousinage  
1438   To themperour, made hem assuage,  
1439   And dorsten noght slen him for fere:
1440   In gret desputeisoun thei were
1441   Among hemself, what was the beste.  
1442   Ther was a lady, the slyheste 
1443   Of alle that men knewe tho, 
1444   So old sche myhte unethes go,  
1445   And was grantdame unto the dede: 
1446   And sche with that began to rede, 
1447   And seide how sche wol bringe him inne, 
1448   That sche schal him to dethe winne  
1449   Al only of his oghne grant, 
1450   Thurgh strengthe of verray covenant 
1451   Withoute blame of eny wiht.
1452   Anon sche sende for this kniht,
1453   And of hire Sone sche alleide 
1454   The deth, and thus to him sche seide:  
1455   "Florent, how so thou be to wyte 
1456   Of Branchus deth, men schal respite 
1457   As now to take vengement,
1458   Be so thou stonde in juggement
1459   Upon certein condicioun, 
1460   That thou unto a questioun 
1461   Which I schal axe schalt ansuere;
1462   And over this thou schalt ek swere,  
1463   That if thou of the sothe faile,  
1464   Ther schal non other thing availe,
1465   That thou ne schalt thi deth receive.  
1466   And for men schal thee noght deceive,
1467   That thou therof myht ben avised, 
1468   Thou schalt have day and tyme assised  
1469   And leve saufly forto wende,
1470   Be so that at thi daies ende  
1471   Thou come ayein with thin avys.  
1472   This knyht, which worthi was and wys,
1473   This lady preith that he may wite,
1474   And have it under Seales write,
1475   What questioun it scholde be  
1476   For which he schal in that degree
1477   Stonde of his lif in jeupartie.  
1478   With that sche feigneth compaignie,  
1479   And seith: "Florent, on love it hongeth
1480   Al that to myn axinge longeth:
1481   What alle wommen most desire  
1482   This wole I axe, and in thempire 
1483   Wher as thou hast most knowlechinge 
1484   Tak conseil upon this axinge."
1485   Florent this thing hath undertake,
1486   The day was set, the time take,
1487   Under his seal he wrot his oth,
1488   In such a wise and forth he goth 
1489   Hom to his Emes court ayein;  
1490   To whom his aventure plein 
1491   He tolde, of that him is befalle.
1492   And upon that thei weren alle 
1493   The wiseste of the lond asent, 
1494   Bot natheles of on assent  
1495   Thei myhte noght acorde plat,  
1496   On seide this, an othre that. 
1497   After the disposicioun  
1498   Of naturel complexioun  
1499   To som womman it is plesance,  
1500   That to an other is grevance; 
1501   Bot such a thing in special,
1502   Which to hem alle in general  
1503   Is most plesant, and most desired
1504   Above alle othre and most conspired, 
1505   Such o thing conne thei noght finde 
1506   Be Constellacion ne kinde: 
1507   And thus Florent withoute cure
1508   Mot stonde upon his aventure,  
1509   And is al schape unto the lere,
1510   As in defalte of his answere. 
1511   This knyht hath levere forto dye 
1512   Than breke his trowthe and forto lye
1513   In place ther as he was swore, 
1514   And schapth him gon ayein therfore. 
1515   Whan time cam he tok his leve, 
1516   That lengere wolde he noght beleve,  
1517   And preith his Em he be noght wroth, 
1518   For that is a point of his oth,
1519   He seith, that noman schal him wreke,
1520   Thogh afterward men hiere speke  
1521   That he par aventure deie. 
1522   And thus he wente forth his weie 
1523   Alone as knyht aventurous,  
1524   And in his thoght was curious 
1525   To wite what was best to do:  
1526   And as he rod al one so, 
1527   And cam nyh ther he wolde be,  
1528   In a forest under a tre 
1529   He syh wher sat a creature, 
1530   A lothly wommannysch figure,
1531   That forto speke of fleisch and bon 
1532   So foul yit syh he nevere non.
1533   This knyht behield hir redely, 
1534   And as he wolde have passed by,
1535   Sche cleped him and bad abide;
1536   And he his horse heved aside  
1537   Tho torneth, and to hire he rod,  
1538   And there he hoveth and abod,  
1539   To wite what sche wolde mene. 
1540   And sche began him to bemene,  
1541   And seide: "Florent be thi name,  
1542   Thou hast on honde such a game,
1543   That bot thou be the betre avised,
1544   Thi deth is schapen and devised,  
1545   That al the world ne mai the save,
1546   Bot if that thou my conseil have."  
1547   Florent, whan he this tale herde, 
1548   Unto this olde wyht answerde  
1549   And of hir conseil he hir preide.
1550   And sche ayein to him thus seide:
1551   "Florent, if I for the so schape, 
1552   That thou thurgh me thi deth ascape 
1553   And take worschipe of thi dede,
1554   What schal I have to my mede?"
1555   "What thing," quod he, "that thou wolt axe." 
1556   "I bidde nevere a betre taxe,"
1557   Quod sche, "bot ferst, er thou be sped, 
1558   Thou schalt me leve such a wedd,  
1559   That I wol have thi trowthe in honde
1560   That thou schalt be myn housebonde."
1561   "Nay," seith Florent, "that may noght be."
1562   "Ryd thanne forth thi wey," quod sche,  
1563   "And if thou go withoute red,  
1564   Thou schalt be sekerliche ded."  
1565   Florent behihte hire good ynowh  
1566   Of lond, of rente, of park, of plowh,
1567   Bot al that compteth sche at noght. 
1568   Tho fell this knyht in mochel thoght,
1569   Now goth he forth, now comth ayein,  
1570   He wot noght what is best to sein,
1571   And thoghte, as he rod to and fro,
1572   That chese he mot on of the tuo,  
1573   Or forto take hire to his wif 
1574   Or elles forto lese his lif.  
1575   And thanne he caste his avantage, 
1576   That sche was of so gret an age,  
1577   That sche mai live bot a while,
1578   And thoghte put hire in an Ile,
1579   Wher that noman hire scholde knowe,  
1580   Til sche with deth were overthrowe. 
1581   And thus this yonge lusti knyht  
1582   Unto this olde lothly wiht 
1583   Tho seide: "If that non other chance
1584   Mai make my deliverance, 
1585   Bot only thilke same speche
1586   Which, as thou seist, thou schalt me teche,
1587   Have hier myn hond, I schal thee wedde."  
1588   And thus his trowthe he leith to wedde.
1589   With that sche frounceth up the browe: 
1590   "This covenant I wol allowe," 
1591   Sche seith: "if eny other thing  
1592   Bot that thou hast of my techyng 
1593   Fro deth thi body mai respite, 
1594   I woll thee of thi trowthe acquite,  
1595   And elles be non other weie.  
1596   Now herkne me what I schal seie. 
1597   Whan thou art come into the place,
1598   Wher now thei maken gret manace  
1599   And upon thi comynge abyde, 
1600   Thei wole anon the same tide  
1601   Oppose thee of thin answere.  
1602   I wot thou wolt nothing forbere  
1603   Of that thou wenest be thi beste, 
1604   And if thou myht so finde reste,  
1605   Wel is, for thanne is ther nomore.  
1606   And elles this schal be my lore,  
1607   That thou schalt seie, upon this Molde 
1608   That alle wommen lievest wolde
1609   Be soverein of mannes love:
1610   For what womman is so above,
1611   Sche hath, as who seith, al hire wille;
1612   And elles may sche noght fulfille
1613   What thing hir were lievest have.
1614   With this answere thou schalt save  
1615   Thiself, and other wise noght.
1616   And whan thou hast thin ende wroght, 
1617   Com hier ayein, thou schalt me finde,
1618   And let nothing out of thi minde."  
1619   He goth him forth with hevy chiere,  
1620   As he that not in what manere 
1621   He mai this worldes joie atteigne:  
1622   For if he deie, he hath a peine,  
1623   And if he live, he mot him binde 
1624   To such on which of alle kinde
1625   Of wommen is thunsemlieste:
1626   Thus wot he noght what is the beste:
1627   Bot be him lief or be him loth,
1628   Unto the Castell forth he goth
1629   His full answere forto yive,
1630   Or forto deie or forto live.  
1631   Forth with his conseil cam the lord, 
1632   The thinges stoden of record,  
1633   He sende up for the lady sone, 
1634   And forth sche cam, that olde Mone. 
1635   In presence of the remenant
1636   The strengthe of al the covenant 
1637   Tho was reherced openly, 
1638   And to Florent sche bad forthi
1639   That he schal tellen his avis, 
1640   As he that woot what is the pris.
1641   Florent seith al that evere he couthe,  
1642   Bot such word cam ther non to mowthe,
1643   That he for yifte or for beheste 
1644   Mihte eny wise his deth areste.  
1645   And thus he tarieth longe and late,  
1646   Til that this lady bad algate 
1647   That he schal for the dom final  
1648   Yive his answere in special
1649   Of that sche hadde him ferst opposed:  
1650   And thanne he hath trewly supposed  
1651   That he him may of nothing yelpe, 
1652   Bot if so be tho wordes helpe, 
1653   Whiche as the womman hath him tawht;
1654   Wherof he hath an hope cawht  
1655   That he schal ben excused so,  
1656   And tolde out plein his wille tho.  
1657   And whan that this Matrone herde 
1658   The manere how this knyht ansuerde,  
1659   Sche seide: "Ha treson, wo thee be,  
1660   That hast thus told the privite,  
1661   Which alle wommen most desire!
1662   I wolde that thou were afire."
1663   Bot natheles in such a plit
1664   Florent of his answere is quit:  
1665   And tho began his sorwe newe,  
1666   For he mot gon, or ben untrewe,
1667   To hire which his trowthe hadde. 
1668   Bot he, which alle schame dradde, 
1669   Goth forth in stede of his penance,  
1670   And takth the fortune of his chance, 
1671   As he that was with trowthe affaited.  
1672   This olde wyht him hath awaited  
1673   In place wher as he hire lefte:  
1674   Florent his wofull heved uplefte 
1675   And syh this vecke wher sche sat, 
1676   Which was the lothlieste what 
1677   That evere man caste on his yhe: 
1678   Hire Nase bass, hire browes hyhe, 
1679   Hire yhen smale and depe set,  
1680   Hire chekes ben with teres wet,
1681   And rivelen as an emty skyn
1682   Hangende doun unto the chin,
1683   Hire Lippes schrunken ben for age,
1684   Ther was no grace in the visage,  
1685   Hir front was nargh, hir lockes hore,
1686   Sche loketh forth as doth a More, 
1687   Hire Necke is schort, hir schuldres courbe,
1688   That myhte a mannes lust destourbe,  
1689   Hire body gret and nothing smal,  
1690   And schortly to descrive hire al, 
1691   Sche hath no lith withoute a lak;
1692   Bot lich unto the wollesak 
1693   Sche proferth hire unto this knyht,  
1694   And bad him, as he hath behyht,
1695   So as sche hath ben his warant,
1696   That he hire holde covenant,
1697   And be the bridel sche him seseth.  
1698   Bot godd wot how that sche him pleseth 
1699   Of suche wordes as sche spekth:  
1700   Him thenkth welnyh his herte brekth 
1701   For sorwe that he may noght fle,  
1702   Bot if he wolde untrewe be.
1703   Loke, how a sek man for his hele 
1704   Takth baldemoine with Canele,  
1705   And with the Mirre takth the Sucre,  
1706   Ryht upon such a maner lucre  
1707   Stant Florent, as in this diete: 
1708   He drinkth the bitre with the swete, 
1709   He medleth sorwe with likynge, 
1710   And liveth, as who seith, deyinge;  
1711   His youthe schal be cast aweie
1712   Upon such on which as the weie
1713   Is old and lothly overal.  
1714   Bot nede he mot that nede schal: 
1715   He wolde algate his trowthe holde,
1716   As every knyht therto is holde,
1717   What happ so evere him is befalle:  
1718   Thogh sche be the fouleste of alle,  
1719   Yet to thonour of wommanhiede 
1720   Him thoghte he scholde taken hiede; 
1721   So that for pure gentilesse,
1722   As he hire couthe best adresce,
1723   In ragges, as sche was totore, 
1724   He set hire on his hors tofore
1725   And forth he takth his weie softe;  
1726   No wonder thogh he siketh ofte.  
1727   Bot as an oule fleth be nyhte 
1728   Out of alle othre briddes syhte,  
1729   Riht so this knyht on daies brode
1730   In clos him hield, and schop his rode  
1731   On nyhtes time, til the tyde  
1732   That he cam there he wolde abide;
1733   And prively withoute noise 
1734   He bringth this foule grete Coise
1735   To his Castell in such a wise 
1736   That noman myhte hire schappe avise, 
1737   Til sche into the chambre cam:
1738   Wher he his prive conseil nam 
1739   Of suche men as he most troste,
1740   And tolde hem that he nedes moste
1741   This beste wedde to his wif,
1742   For elles hadde he lost his lif. 
1743   The prive wommen were asent,
1744   That scholden ben of his assent: 
1745   Hire ragges thei anon of drawe,
1746   And, as it was that time lawe, 
1747   She hadde bath, sche hadde reste, 
1748   And was arraied to the beste. 
1749   Bot with no craft of combes brode
1750   Thei myhte hire hore lockes schode,  
1751   And sche ne wolde noght be schore
1752   For no conseil, and thei therfore,
1753   With such atyr as tho was used,
1754   Ordeinen that it was excused,  
1755   And hid so crafteliche aboute, 
1756   That noman myhte sen hem oute.
1757   Bot when sche was fulliche arraied  
1758   And hire atyr was al assaied,  
1759   Tho was sche foulere on to se:
1760   Bot yit it may non other be,
1761   Thei were wedded in the nyht; 
1762   So wo begon was nevere knyht  
1763   As he was thanne of mariage.