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Origenes upon the Maudeleyne.1
Hym oughte now to have the lesse peyne,
He hath made many a ley, and many a thynge.
'Now as ye be a God, and eke a kynge,
I your Aleeste, whilom quene of Trace,"
I aske yow this man, ryght of your grace,
That ye him never hurte in al his lyve,
And he shal sweren to yow, and that blyve,
He shal never more agilten in this wyse,
But shal maken, as ye wol devyse,
Of wommen trewe in lovyng al hire lyf,
Wher so ye wol, of mayden or of wyf,
And forthren yow as muche as he mysseyde,
Or in the Rose, or elles in Creseyde.'
* The God of Love answerede hire anoon,
'Madame,' quod he, 'it is so long agoon
That I yow knewe so charitable and trewe,
That never yit, syn that the worlde was newe,
To me ne founde I better noon than yee;
If that ye wolde save my degree,
I may ne wol nat werne your requeste;
Al lyeth in yow, dooth wyth hym as yow leste.
I al foryeve withouten lenger space;
For who so yeveth a yefte or dooth a grace,
Do it betyme, his thanke ys wel the more,
And demeth ye what he shal do therfore.
Goo thanke now my lady here,' quod he.
I roos, and doune I sette me on my knee,
And seyde thus:—' Madame, the God above
Foryelde yow that the God of Love
Han maked me his wrathe to foryive,
And grace so longe for to lyve,
1 Tyrwhitt thinks it almost certain, from internal evidence, that the poem which bears this title, and which has been included in all editions of Chaucer's works, is the production of some later poet, and that it has been attributed to him only because he here mentions a poem of his on the same subject [which is also true for otlwr poems]. 2 See vol. iv. p. 284, note 2.
That I may knowe soothly what ye bee,
That han me holpe, and put in this degree.
But trewely I wende, as in this caas
Nought have agilte, ne doon to love trespas;
For why? a trewe man, withouten drede,
Hath nat to parten with a theves dede.1
Ne a trewe lover ought me nat to blame,
Thogh that I spake a fals lovere som shame.
They oughte rather with me for to holde,
For that I of Creseyde wroot or told,
Or of the Rose, what so myn auctour mente,
Algate, God woot, yt was myn entente
To forthren trouthe in love, and yt cheryce,
And to ben war fro falsnesse and fro vice,
By swiche ensample; this was my menynge.'
And she answerde, 'Lat be thyn arguynge,
For love ne wol not counterpleted be"
In ryghte ne wrong, and lerne that of me;
Thow hast thy grace, and holde the ryghte therto.
Now wol I seyne what penance thou shalt do
For thy trespas, understonde yt here:—
Thow shalt while that thou lyvest, yere by yere,
The most partye of thy tyme spende
In makyng of a glorious legende,
• Of good wymmen, maydenes, and wy ves,
That weren trewe in lovyng al hire lyves;
And telle of fals men that hem bytraien,
That al hir lyfe ne do nat but assayen
How many women they may doon a shame,
For in your worlde that is now holde a game.
And thogh the lyke nat a lovere bee,
Speke wel of love; this penance yeve I thee.
And to the God of Love I shal so preye,
1 This appears to be a proverb, meaning,' A true [honest] man has no p.art in the actions of a thief.'
2 This axiom forms one of the statutes of The Court of Love.—See vol. iv. p. 297.
That he shal charge his servauntes, by any weye,
To forthren thee, and wel thy labour quyte:
Goo now thy weye, this penaunce ys but lyte.
And whan this boke ys made, yeve it the quene
On my byhalfe, at Eltham, or at Sheene.'1
The god of love gan smyle, and than he seyde>—
'Wostow,' quod he, 'wher this be wyfe or mayde,
Or queene, or countesse, or of what degre,
That hath so lytel penaunce yeven thee,
That hast deserved sore for to smerte?
But pite renneth soone in gentil herte:')
That maistow seen, she kytheth what she ys.'
And I answerde, 'Nay, sire, so have I blys,
No more, but that I see wel she is good.'
'That is a trewe tale, by myn hood!'
Quod Love, 'and thou knowest wel, pardee,
If yt be so that thou avise the.
Hastow nat in a booke lyth in thy cheste,
The gret goodnesse of the quene Alceste,
That turned was into a dayesye?
She that for hire housbonde chees to dye,
And eke to goon to helle, rather than he,
And Ercules rescowed hire, parde,
And brought hire out of helle agayne to blys?'
And I answerde ageyn, and sayde, 'Yis, .
Now know I hire. And is this good Alceste,
The dayesie, and myn owene hertes reste?
Now fele I wele the goodnesse of this wyf,
That both after hire deth, and in hir lyf,
Hir grete bounte doubleth hire renoun.
Wel hath she quyt me myn affeccioun,
That I have to hire flour the daysye.
No wonder ys thogh Jove hire stellyfye,
1 This allusion determines the date of the poem to be subsequent to 1382, the year of the marriage of Anno of Bohemia, Richard II.'i first queen.
'For this proverb see vol. i. p. 14S,
As telleth Agaton,1 for hire goodenesse,
Hire white corowne bereth of hyt witnesse;
For al so many vertues hadde she,
As smale florounes in hire corowne bee.
In remembraunce of hire and in honoure
Cibella* maade the daysye and the floure
Ycrowned al with white, as men may se,
And Mars yaf to hire a corowne reede, parde,
In stede of rubyes sette among the white.'
Therwith this queene wex reed for shame a lyte,
Whanne she was preysed so in hire presence.
Thanne seyde Love, ' A ful grete negligence
Was yt to the, that ilke tyme thou made,
'Hyde Absolon thy tresses'" in balade,
That thou forgate hire in thy songe to sette,
Syn that thou art so gretly in hire dette,
And wost wel that kalender4 ys she
To any woman that wol lover be:
For she taught al the crafte of fyne lovyng,
And namely of wyfhode the lyvyng,
And alle the boundes that she oughte kepe;
Thy litel witte was thilke tyme aslepe.
But now I charge thee upon thy lyf,
That in thy legende thou make of thys wyf,
Whan thou hast other smale ymade before;
And fare now wel, I charge thee na more.
But er I goo, thus muche I wol the telle,
Ne shal no trewe lover come in helle.
1 Upon this word Tyrwhitt has the following note:—' I have nothing to say concerning this writer, except that one of the same name is quoted in the Prologue to the Traaedie of Cambyses, by Thomas Preston. There is no ground for supposing, with Gloss. Ur. [the compiler of Urry's Glossary] that a philosopher of Samoa is meant, or any of the Agathoes of Antiquity." The compiler of Urry's Gloss, obtained his information from a note in Speght, who says, equivocally, 'Agathon, a philosopher of Samos, did write Histories.'
3 Cybele. 3 See ante, p W\.
4 A kalendar, or calendar, is an almanac by which persons are guided in their computation of time; hence it is used, as here, for a guide, or example generally
Vol. m. z
Thise other ladies sittynge here arowe,
Ben in my balade, yf thou kanst hem knowe,
And in thy bookes alle thou shalt hem fynde;
Have hem in thy legende now alle in mynde;
I mene of hem that ben in thy knowyng.
For here ben twenty thousande moo sittyng
Thanne thou knowest, good wommen alle,
And trewe of love for ought that may byfalle;
Make th« metres of hem as the lest;
I mot goon home, the sonne draweth west,
To Paradys, with al this companye;
And serve alwey the fresshe daysye.
At Cleopatres I wole that thou begynne,
And so forthe, and my love so shal thou wynne;
For lat see now what man that lover be,
Wol doon so stronge a peyne for love as she.
I wot wel that thou maist nat al yt ryme,
That swiche loveres dide in hire tyme;
It were too long to reden and to here;
Suffiseth me thou make in this manere,
That thou reherce of al hire lyf the grete,
After thise olde auctours lysten for to trete.
For who so shal so many a storye telle,
Sey shortely or he shal to longe dwelle.'
And with that worde my bokes gan I take,
And right thus on my legende gan I make.
INCIPIT LEGENDA CLEOPATRIE MABTIKIS,
AFTER the deth of Tholome the kyng,
That al Egypte hadde in his governyng,
Regned hys queene Cleopataras;
Til on a tyme befel ther swich a caas,
1 This is the form in which royal saints are described in the kalendar. Thus, the 19th of January is designated Canuti Regis et Martyria.