John Gower

(1330 - October 1408 / Yorkshire, England)

Confessio Amantis, Book III


Appolinus his lev{.e} tok,
To God and al the lond betok
With al the poeple long and brod,
That he no lenger there abod.
The king and queen{.e} sorw{.e} mad{.e},
Bot yit somdiel thei weren glad{.e}
Of such thing as thei herden tho:
And thus betwen the wel and wo
To schip he goth, his wif with child{.e},
The which was ever{.e} meke and myld{.e}
And wold{.e} noght departe him fro,
Such lov{.e} was betwen hem tuo.
Lichorida for hire offic{.e}
Was tak{.e}, which was a norric{.e},
To wend{.e} with this yong{.e} wif,
To whom was schape a woful lif.
Withinne a time, as it betidd{.e},
Whan thei were in the see amidd{.e},
Out of the north they sihe a cloud{.e};
The storm aros, the wynd{.e}s loud{.e}
Thei blewen many a dredful blast,
The welkn{.e} was al overcast,
The derk{.e} nyht the sonne hath under,
Ther was a gret tempeste of thunder:
The mone and ek the sterr{.e}s both{.e}
In blak{.e} cloud{.e}s thei hem cloth{.e},
Wherof here briht{.e} lok thei hyd{.e}.
This yong{.e} ladi wepte and crid{.e},
To whom no confort myhte avail{.e};
Of child{.e} sche began travail{.e},
Wher sche lay in a caban clos:
Hire woful lord fro hire aros,
And that was longe er eny morw{.e},
So that in anguisse and in sorw{.e}
Sche was deliver{.e}d al be nyht{.e}
And ded in every mannes syht{.e};
Bot nath{.e}les for al this wo
A maid{.e} child was bor{.e} tho.

Appolinus whan he this knew,
For sorwe a swoune he overthrew,
That noman wiste in him no lif.
And whanne he wok, he seide, "Ha, wif,
Mi lust, mi joi{.e}, my desir,
Mi welthe and my recoverir,
Why schal I live, and thou schalt dy{.e}?
Ha, thou fortune, I thee deffi{.e},
Nou hast thou do to me thi werst{.e}.
Ha, hert{.e}, why ne wolt thou berst{.e},
That forth with hire I myht{.e} pass{.e}?
Mi pein{.e}s weren wel the lass{.e}."
In such wepinge and in such cry
His ded{.e} wif, which lay him by,
A thousend sith{.e}s he hire kist{.e};
Was nevere man that sih ne wist{.e}
A sorwe unto his sorw{.e} lich;
For evere among, upon the lich
He fell swounende, as he that soght{.e}
His oghn{.e} deth, which he besoght{.e}
Unto the godd{.e}s alle abov{.e}
With many a pitous word of lov{.e};
Bot such{.e} word{.e}s as tho wer{.e}
Yit herd{.e} nevere mannes er{.e},
Bot only thilk{.e} whiche he seid{.e}.
The maister schipman cam and preid{.e}
With othr{.e} suche as be therinn{.e},
And sein that he mai nothing winn{.e}
Ayein the deth, bot thei him red{.e},
He be wel war and tak hied{.e},
The see be weie of his natur{.e}
Receiv{.e} mai no creatur{.e}
Withinne himself as forto hold{.e},
The which is ded: forthi thei wold{.e},
As thei conseilen al about{.e},
The ded{.e} body casten out{.e}.
For betre it is, thei seiden all{.e},
That it of hir{.e} so befall{.e},
Than if thei scholden all{.e} spill{.e}.

The king, which understod here will{.e}
And knew here conseil that was trew{.e},
Began ayein his sorw{.e} new{.e}
With pitous herte, and thus to sei{.e}:
"It is al reson that ye prei{.e}.
I am," quod he, "bot on al on{.e},
So wolde I noght for mi person{.e}
There fell{.e} such adversité.
Bot whan it mai no betr{.e} be,
Doth thann{.e} thus upon my word,
Let make a cofr{.e} strong of bord,
That it be ferm with led and pich."
Anon was mad a cofr{.e} sich,
Al redy broght unto his hond;
And whanne he sih and redy fond
This cofr{.e} mad and wel enclow{.e}d,
The ded{.e} bodi was besow{.e}d
In cloth of gold and leid therinn{.e}.
And for he wolde unto hir winn{.e}
Upon som cooste a sepultur{.e},
Under hire heved in aventur{.e}
Of gold he leid{.e} somm{.e}s gret{.e}
And of jeueals a strong beyet{.e}
Forth with a lettre, and seid{.e} thus:

"I, king of Tyr Appollinus,
Do all{.e} maner men to wit{.e},
That hiere and se this lettr{.e} writ{.e},
That help{.e}les without{.e} red
Hier lith a king{.e}s doghter ded:
And who that happeth hir to find{.e},
For charité tak in his mynd{.e},
And do so that sche be begrav{.e}
With this tr{.e}sor, which he schal hav{.e}."
Thus whan the lettr{.e} was full spok{.e},
Thei have anon the cofr{.e} stok{.e},
And bounden it with yren fast{.e},
That it may with the waw{.e}s last{.e},
And stoppen it be such a wei{.e},
That it schal be withinn{.e} drei{.e},
So that no water myhte it griev{.e}.
And thus in hope and good believ{.e}
Of that the corps schal wel aryv{.e},
Thei caste it over bord als blyv{.e}.

The schip forth on the waw{.e}s went{.e};
The prince hath chang{.e}d his entent{.e},
And seith he wol noght come at Tyr
As thann{.e}, bot al his desir
Is ferst to seilen unto Thars{.e}.
The wyndy storm began to skars{.e},
The sonne arist, the weder cliereth,
The schipman which behind{.e} stiereth
Whan that he sih the wynd{.e}s saght{.e},
Toward{.e}s Tharse his cours he straght{.e}.

Bot now to mi matiere ayein,
To telle as old{.e} bok{.e}s sein,
This dede corps of which ye know{.e}
With wynd and water was forthrow{.e}
Now hier, now ther, til at{.e} last{.e}
At Ephesim the see upcast{.e}
The cofre and al that was therinn{.e}.
Of gret merveil{.e} now beginn{.e}
Mai hier{.e} who that sitteth still{.e};
That God wol sav{.e} mai noght spill{.e}.
Riht as the corps was throwe alond{.e},
Ther cam walkende upon the strond{.e}
A worthi clerc, a surgi{.e}n,
And ek a gret phisici{.e}n,
Of al that lond the wisest on,
Which hiht{.e} Maister Cerymon;
Ther were of his discipl{.e}s som{.e}.
This maister to the cofre is com{.e},
He peiseth ther was somwhat in,
And bad hem bere it to his in,
And goth himselv{.e} forth withal.
Al that schal fall{.e}, fall{.e} schal;
They comen hom and tari{.e} noght;
This cofre is into chambr{.e} broght,
Which that thei find{.e} fast{.e} stok{.e},
Bot thei with craft it have unlok{.e}.
Thei loken in, where as thei found{.e}
A bodi ded, which was bewound{.e}
In cloth of gold, as I seide er,
The tresor ek thei founden ther
Forth with the lettr{.e} which thei red{.e}.
And tho thei token betr{.e} hied{.e};
Unsowed was the bodi son{.e},
And he, which knew what is to don{.e},
This nobl{.e} clerk, with all{.e} hast{.e}
Began the vein{.e}s forto tast{.e},
And sih hire ag{.e} was of youth{.e},
And with the craft{.e}s whiche he couth{.e}
He soghte and fond a signe of lif.
With that this worthi king{.e}s wif
Honest{.e}ly thei token out{.e},
And maden fyr{.e}s al about{.e};
Thei leide hire on a couch{.e} soft{.e},
And with a scheet{.e} warm{.e}d oft{.e}
Hire cold{.e} brest began to het{.e},
Hire herte also to flacke and bet{.e}.
This maister hath hire every joignt
With certein oile and balsme enoignt,
And putte a liquour in hire mouth,
Which is to few{.e} clerk{.e}s couth,
So that sche coevereth at{.e} last{.e}:
And ferst hire yhen up sche cast{.e},
And whan sche more of strengthe cawht{.e},
Hire arm{.e}s both{.e} forth sche strawht{.e},
Hield up hire hond and pitously
Sche spak and seide, "Ha, wher am I?
Where is my lord, what world is this?"
As sche that wot noght hou it is.
Bot Cerymon the worthi lech{.e}
Ansuerde anon upon hire spech{.e}
And seith, "Ma dam{.e}, yee ben hier{.e},
Where yee be sauf, as yee schal hier{.e}
Hierafterward; forthi as nou
Mi conseil is, conforteth you:
For trusteth wel without{.e} fail{.e},
Ther is nothing which schal you fail{.e},
That oghte of reson to be do."

Submitted: Thursday, January 01, 2004

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