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THE STORY OF NARCISSUS.

Narcissus was a bachelére 1
That Love had caught in his dangére,2
And in his net gan him so strain,
And did him so to weep and plain,
That need him must his life forgo:
For a fair lady, that hight Echo,
Him loved over any creatúre,
And gan for him such pain endure,
That on a time she him told
That, if he her loven nolde,1
That her behooved needës die,
There lay none other remedié.

But ne'ertheless, for his beauté
So fierce and dangerous was he,
That he nolde granten her asking,
For weeping, nor for fair prayíng.

And when she heard him warn her so She had in heart so gretë woe, And took it in so grete despite, That she withouten more respite Was dead anon: but ere she died Full piteously to God she preide,5 That proude hearted Narcissús That was in love so dangeroús, Might on a day be hampered so For love, that be so hot for wo, That never he might to joy attain; Then should he feel in every vein

1

a knight.

4 would not.

2

coyness.

5 prayed.

8

was called.

What sorrow true lovers maken
That are so villainously 1 forsaken.

This prayer was but reasonable,
Therefore God held it firm and stable:
For Narcissús shortly to tell,
By aventure 2 came to that well
To rest him in the shadowing
A day, when he came from hunting.

This Narcissús had suffered pains
For running all day in the plains,
And was for thirst in great distress
Of heart, and of his wearinéss,

That had lost his breath almost benomen,3
When he was to that well ycomen,1
That shadowed was with branches green,
He thought of thilke water sheen 6
To drink and fresh him well withall,

And down on knees he gan to fall,
And forth his neck and head outstraught?

To drinke of that well a draught.

And in the water anon was seen

His nose, his mouth, his eyen sheen,
And he thereof was all abashed,
His own shadów had him betrashed,8
For well wend 9 he the formë see

Of a child of great beauteé.
Well couth 10 Love him wrekë 11 though

Of danger and of pride also

That Narcissus sometime him bear,

He quite 12 him well his guerdon 13 there.

1 Pronounced in three syllables: viln-ous-ly.

2 chance.

8 benumbed.

7 outstretched.

6 bright, clear. 10 was able.

11

revenge.

12

4 arrived.

8 betrayed. gave, awarded.

5 that.

9

thought. 18 reward,

1

For he mused so in the well,
That shortëly the sooth to tell,
He loved his ownë shadow so
That at last he starfe 2 for woe.
For when he saw that he his will
Might in no manner way fulfil
And that he was so fastë caught
That he him couthë comfort naught,
He lost his wit right in that place
And died within a little space,
And thus his warison 3 he took
For the lady that he forsook.

FALSE SEMBLANT NO HERMIT.

I love none hermitage more;
All deserts and holtës hoar
And great woods every one,

6

I let them to the Baptist John:
I queth him quite and him release
Of Egypt all the wilderness.
Too far were all my mansioúns
From all cities and good towns.
My palace and my house make I
Where men may run in openly,
And say that I the world forsake;
But all amid I build and make
My house, and swim and play therein
Better than a fish doeth with his fin.

1 truth. 2 died. 8 reward. 4 forests. 5 give, leave. 6 queth him quite, the translation of an old expression used in law, Clamo illi quietem. The French is Je quitte, I acquit him.

THE GOD OF LOVE

This god of love of his fashion
Was like no knave1 ne quistron 2:
His beauty greatly was to prize,
But of his robë to devise 3
I dread encumber'd for to be;
For not yclad in silk was he,
But all in flowers and flowerets,
Ypainted all with amorets,*
And with lozenges 5 and scochóns,6
With birdës, leopards, and lións,
And other beastës wrought full well.
His garment was of every dell 7
Yportrayed and ywrought with flowers
By divers medeling of coloúrs.
Flowers there were of many guise
Yset by compass in a size;
There lack'd no flower to my dome,9
Nay, not so much as flower of broom,
Nor violet, nor even pervinke,10

8

Nor flower none that me can on think.
And many a rose leaf full long
Was intermingled there among;
And also on his head was set
Of roses red a chapelet.
But nightingales a full great rout
Were flying over his head about,

1 servant.

2 scullion.

3 describe.

4 amorous women.

5 Quadrilateral figures of equal sides, but unequal angles, in which the

arms of women were painted.

7 part. 8 intermingling.

9 opinion.

6 Scutcheons of arms. 10 periwinkle.

The leaves felden1 as they wrien,2
With popinjay, with nightingale,
With chelaundre and with wood wale,

With finch, with larke, and with archangell.3
He seemed as he were angel

That down was come from Heaven clear.

MAY A MAN BEG?

To hear the case especial:
If a man be so bestial

That he of no craft hath science,
And nought desireth ignorance,
Then may he go a begging yerné,1
Through which, without truanding,
He may in truth have his living.

Or if he may do no labor,
For eld, or sickness, or languor,
Or for his tender age also,
Then may he yet a begging go.

Or if he have of craft cunning,
And strength also, and desiring
To worken, as he had what,
But he find neither this ne that,
Then may he begge till that he
Have gotten his necessité.

Or if his winning be so light,
That his labor will not aquite
Sufficiently all his living
Yet may he go his bread begging.

2 turned.

8 the titmouse.

1 fell, made to fall.

♦ eagerly.

4

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