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That thow be tinderstonde, God I besecke!
The wrath, as I bigan yow for to seye,
And when that he was slayn in this manere,
And down from thennes faste he gan avyse
This litel spot of erth, that with the se
Embraced is; and fully gan despise
This wreched world, and helde al vanyte,
To respect of the pleyne felicite
That is in hevene above: and, at the laste,
Ther he was slayn his lokynge down he caste.
And in hymself he lough right at the wo
1 'In convers leting every element,' means,' Leaving behind him all the elements, earth, air, fire, and water, of which is composed this world with its atmosphere, which now appears to him convex, or in the form of a ball.' The sonl of Troylus passes from the earth, which is the first sphere, and in respect of which the others are concave, or hoUcw, and reaches the seventh, in respect of which the others are convex, or convers. This doctrine of the spheres, and the harmony they produce, has been already explained: See vol. ii. p. J60, note j. It seem* to have been universally received. St. Paul speaks of being' caught up to the third heaven.'—2 Cor. xii. 2.
And forth he wente, shortly for to telle,
Swich fyn hath, lo! this Troylus for love!
Swich fyn hath al his grete worthynesse!
Swich fyn hath his estat real above!
Swich fyn his luste, swich fyn hath his noblesse!
Swich fyn hath fals worldes brotelnesse!
And thus bigan his lovynge of Cryseyde,
As I have tolde, and in this wise he deyde.
0 yonge fresshe folkes, he or she,
In which that love up growcth with youre age,
Repeireth horn fro worldly vanyte,
And of youre herte up casteth the visage
To thilke God, that efter his ymage
Yow made, and thynketh al nys but a faire,
This worlde that passeth sone, as floures faire."
And loveth hym the which that, right for love,
1 The fine idea of making the soul of Troylus mount to the seventh heaven, and laugh at its former transitory joys and sorrows, is Chaucer's own. It may, however, have been suggested by the description of the passage of Arcite's soul to heaven in The Theseide, which Chaucer omits in The Knightes Tale, perhaps because he had already adopted it in this poem.
2 This address is very superior in delicacy and thoughtfulnesa to that in the FUostrato:
1 O giovinetti, a quali con l'etate
L'ENVOYE DU CHAUCER.
O Moral Gower,1 this boke I directe
To the, and to the philosophical Strode,"
To vouchensauf, ther nede is, to correcte,
Of youre benignites and zeles good.
And to that sothfast Criste that starf on roode,
With al myn herte, of mercy evere I preye,
And to the Lord right thus I speke and seye :—
Thow Oon, and Two, and Thre, eterne on lyve,
That regnest ay in Thre, and Two, and Oon,
Uncircumscript, and al maist circumscrive!
Us from visible and invisible foon
Defende, and to thi mercy everichon,
So mak us, Jesu, for thy mercy digne,
For love of Maide and Moder thyn benigne!
EXPLICIT LIBER TROILI ET CRISEYDIS.
1 John Gower, the poet, was born, as is generally supposed, somewhat earlier in the fourteenth century than his friend Chaucer, whom he survived however by eight years. Of his three great works the first, called Speculum Meditantis, said to have been written in French, is lost. The second, called Vox Clamantis, is a poem in elegiac Latin verse; and the third, Confessio Amantis, is in English octosyllabic metre. He is the author also of several ballads in French, of considerable merit. They were collected, and edited for the Roxburgh Club, by the present Duke of Sutherland, then Earl Gower, the supposed representative of the poet's family. Gower has repaid this tribute of Chaucer's to his genius and worth, by some complimentary lines in the Confessio Amantis.—See vol. i. p. 29, note i.
2 Of Strode, Warton says that he was eminent for his scholastic attainments, and was tutorto Chaucer's son, Lewis, at Merton College, Oxford. He was probably the Ralph Strode, of whom Wood says:—Radulphus Strode, de quo sic vetus noster catalogus. Poeta fuit, et versificavit lihrum elegiacum, vocatum ' Phantasma Kodulphi.'—Claruit, 1370.
THE COMPLAYNT OF MAES AND VENUS.
[in the Envoy to this poem the reader is informed that it is a translation from the French of Graunson, whom the author calls the 'floure of them that maken [write poetry] in France;' and that it was written in the poet's old age.
For elde, that in my spirit* dulleth me,
Of Graunson, once so famous, little is now known. Tyrwhitt supposes that he was a certain Otho de Graunson; who, as appears from Kymer's Fcedera, Pat. 17, was retained in the military service of Eichard II., with an annuity of 200 marks. In his Life of Chaucer Speght says, that Chaucer 'made a treatise of the alliance hetwixt Venus and Mars at the commandment of John of Gaunt;' and adds in a note:— 'Some [among whom, if he had read the poem he professed to edit, he might have found the author himself] say that he did but translate it, and that it was made by Sir Otes [Otho] de Grantsome [Graunson, or Granson], knight, in French, of my lady of Yorke, daughter of the King of Spaine [Peter the Cruel] representing Venus, and my Lord of Huntingdon, some time Duke of Excester. This lady was younger sister of Constance, John of Gaunt's second wife. This Lord of Huntingdon was called John Holland, halfe brother to Eichard II.: he married Elizabeth, the daughter of John of Gaunt.' The poem evidently applies, primarily, to the phenomena presented by the planets Mars and Venus in the relative positions they assume in the course of their orbits round the sun; and, as such, is an imitation of the song of Demodocus, in the eighth book of The Odyssey. But it may possibly have a secondary application to the disgraceful intrigue between the Lord Huntingdon and the Duchess of York, aunt of his wife Elizabeth. This traditional application, the force of which has escaped Tyrwhitt, derives some strength from the allusion to the Broche of Thebes (see post, p. 312) which was supposed to inspire those who possessed it with incestuous and illomened passions. Prom this allusion the poem is distinguished by Lydgate among Chaucer's productions:—
Of Anelida and of false Arcite
Bale, taking broche in its primary meaning as a spit, and never having read the poem, describes it by the name of Be Vulcani veru, of the spit of Vulcan.
The text of the printed editions' is almost incredibly corrupt. An example of their corruptions may be found in the first stanza, which, in its proper form, is very pretty and ingenious, but, as hitherto given, is a mass of nonsense. The present text is taken from a MS. marked 7333, in the Harleian Collection, as far as that MS., which is imperfect, goes.—See p. 310. The remainder is from the MS. Fairfax 16, collated with Arch. Seld. B. 24. These have been already described in the Introduction to the House of Fame, voL ii. p. 454. In the Fairfax volume the illuminations to this poem are very elaborate. Venus is represented as Anadyomme, half covered by the waves, with dishevelled hair, of a yellow, or, as we should call it, red colour, such as was admired in classical and mediaeval times; and Mars, as an old knight, in the armour of the fifteenth century, of a prodigiously grim and ferocious demeanour.