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The Example of Vertu The Example of Virtue

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The prologe.


WHan I aduert in my remembraunce

The famous draughtes of poetes eloquent

Whiche theyr myndes dyd well enhaunce

Bokes to contryue that were expedyent

To be remembred without Impedyment

For the profyte of humanyte

This was the custume of antyquyte.

I now symple and moost rude

And naked in depured eloquence

For dulnes rethoryke doth exclude

Wherfore in makynge I lake intellygence

Also consyderynge my grete neglygence

It fereth me sore for to endyte

But at auenture I wyll now wryte.

As very blynde in the poetys art

For I therof can no thynge skyll

Wherfore I lay it all a part

But somwhat accordynge to my wyll

I wyll now wryte for to fulfyll

Saynt Powles wordes and true sentement

All that is wryten is to oure document

O prudent Gower in langage pure

Without corrupcyon moost facundyous

O noble Chauser euer moost sure

Of frutfull sentence ryght delycyous

O vertuous Lydgat moche sentencyous

Vnto you all I do me excuse

Though I your connynge do now vse

Explicit prologus.


Capitulum primũ



IN Septembre in fallynge of the lefe

Whan phebus made his declynacyon

And all the whete gadred was in the shefe

By radyaunt hete and operacyon

Whan the vyrgyn had full domynacyon

And Dyane entred was one degre

Into the sygne of Gemyne

Whan the golden sterres clere were splendent

In the firmament puryfyed clere as crystall

By imperyall course without incombrement

As Iuppyter and Mars that be celestyall

With Saturne and Mercury that wer supernall

Myxt with venus that was not retrograte

That caused me to be well fortunate

In a slombrynge slepe with slouth opprest

As I in my naked bedde was leyd

Thynkynge all nyght to take my rest

Morpleus to me than made abreyd

And in my dreme me thought he sayd

Come walke with me in a medowe amerous

Depeynted with floures that be delycyous

I walked with hym into a place

Where that there grue many a fayre floure

With Ioye replete and full of solace

And the trees dystyllynge redolent lycoure

More sweter fer than the Aprell shour

And tary I dyd there by longe space

Tyll that I saw before my face

A ryght fayre lady of myddell stature

And also enduyd with grete vertue

Her apparell was set with perlys pure

Whose beaute alway dyd renue

To me she sayd and ye wyll extue

All wyldnes I wyll be your guyde

That ye to fraylte shall not slyde.

Vnto her I answerde o lady gloryous

I pray you tell me what is your name

For ye seeme to be ryght precyous

And I am yonge and sore to blame

Of vyces full and in vertue lame

But I wyll be ruled now by your pleasure

So that your order be made by mesure

Eclepyd I am she sayd dyscrecyon

And yf ye wyll be ruled by me

Ye shall haue Ioye without reprehencyon

And neuer fall in to fragylyte

Youth lackynge me it is grete pyte

For in what place I am exyled

They be with synne ryght oft defyled

It longeth euer vnto my properte

Youth to gyue courage for to lerne

I wyll not medle with no duplycyte

But faythfulnes I wyll dyscerne

And brynge thy soule to blesse eterne

By wyse example and morall doctryne

For youth hauynge to me is a good syne

Forsake also all euyll company

And be founde true in worde and dede

Remembre that this worlde is transytory

After thy desert shall be thy mede

Loue god alway and eke hym drede

And for no mannes pleasure be thyn owne foo

Gyue theym fayre wordes and lete theym goo

Be to thy kynge euer true subgete

As thou sholdest be by ryght and reason

Lete thy herte lowely on hym be sete

Without ony spot of euyll treason

And be obedyent at euery season

Vnto his grace without rebellyon

That thou with trouth may be companyon

Loue neuer vnloued for that is payne

Whyle that thou lyuest of that beware

Loue as thou seest the loued agayne

Or elles it wyll torne the to care

Be neuer taken in that fast snare

Proue or thou loue that is moost sure

And than thou in doubte shalt not endure....