House of Fame, The - Book 1



God turne us every drem to goode!
For hyt is wonder, be the roode,
To my wyt, what causeth swevenes
Eyther on morwes or on evenes,
And why th'effect folweth of somme,
And of somme hit shal never come;
Why that is an avision
And why this a revelacion,
Why this a drem, why that a sweven,
And noght to every man lyche even;
Why this a fantome, why these oracles,
I not; but whoso of these miracles
The causes knoweth bet then I,
Devyne he, for I certeinly
Ne kan hem noght, ne never thinke
To besily my wyt to swinke
To knowe of hir signifiaunce
The gendres, neyther the distaunce
Of tymes of hem, ne the causes,
Or why this more then that cause is —
As yf folkys complexions
Make hem dreme of reflexions,
Or ellys thus, as other sayn,
For to gret feblenesse of her brayn,
By abstinence or by seknesse,
Prison-stewe or gret distresse,
Or ellys by dysordynaunce
Of naturel acustumaunce,
That som man is to curious
In studye, or melancolyous,
Or thus so inly ful of drede
That no man may hym bote bede;
Or elles that devocion
Of somme, and contemplacion
Causeth suche dremes ofte;
Or that the cruel lyf unsofte
Which these ilke lovers leden
That hopen over-muche or dreden,
That purely her impressions
Causeth hem avisions;
Or yf that spirites have the myght
To make folk to dreme a-nyght;
Or yf the soule of propre kynde
Be so parfit, as men fynde,
That yt forwot that ys to come,
And that hyt warneth alle and some
Of everych of her aventures
Be avisions or be figures,
But that oure flessh ne hath no myght
To understonde hyt aryght,
For hyt is warned to derkly —
But why the cause is, noght wot I.
Wel worthe of this thyng grete clerkys
That trete of this and other werkes,
For I of noon opinion
Nyl as now make mensyon,
But oonly that the holy roode
Turne us every drem to goode!
For never sith that I was born,
Ne no man elles me beforn,
Mette, I trowe stedfastly,
So wonderful a drem as I
The tenthe day now of Decembre,
The which, as I kan now remembre,
I wol yow tellen everydel.

The Invocation

But at my gynnynge, trusteth wel,
I wol make invocacion,
With special devocion,
Unto the god of slep anoon,
That duelleth in a cave of stoon
Upon a strem that cometh fro Lete,
That is a flood of helle unswete,
Besyde a folk men clepeth Cymerie —
There slepeth ay this god unmerie
With his slepy thousand sones,
That alwey for to slepe hir wone is.
And to this god that I of rede
Prey I that he wol me spede
My sweven for to telle aryght,
Yf every drem stonde in his myght.
And he that mover ys of al,
That is and was and ever shal,
So yive hem joye that hyt here
Of alle that they dreme to-yere,
And for to stonden alle in grace
Of her loves, or in what place
That hem were levest for to stonde,
And shelde hem fro poverte and shonde,
And from unhap and ech disese,
And sende hem al that may hem plese,
That take hit wel and skorne hyt noght,
Ne hyt mysdemen in her thoght
Thorgh malicious entencion.
And whoso thorgh presumpcion,
Or hate, or skorn, or thorgh envye,
Dispit, or jape, or vilanye,
Mysdeme hyt, pray I Jesus God
That (dreme he barefot, dreme he shod),
That every harm that any man
Hath had syth the world began
Befalle hym therof or he sterve,
And graunte he mote hit ful deserve,
Lo, with such a conclusion
As had of his avision
Cresus, that was kyng of Lyde,
That high upon a gebet dyde.
This prayer shal he have of me;
I am no bet in charyte!
Now herkeneth, as I have yow seyd,
What that I mette or I abreyd.


Of Decembre the tenthe day,
Whan hit was nyght to slepe I lay
Ryght ther as I was wont to done,
And fil on slepe wonder sone,
As he that wery was forgo
On pilgrymage myles two
To the corseynt Leonard,
To make lythe of that was hard.
But as I slepte, me mette I was
Withyn a temple ymad of glas,
In which ther were moo ymages
Of gold, stondynge in sondry stages,
And moo ryche tabernacles,
And with perre moo pynacles,
And moo curiouse portreytures,
And queynte maner of figures
Of olde werk, then I saugh ever.
For certeynly, I nyste never
Wher that I was, but wel wyste I
Hyt was of Venus redely,
The temple; for in portreyture
I sawgh anoon-ryght hir figure
Naked fletynge in a see,
And also on hir hed, pardee,
Hir rose garlond whit and red,
And hir comb to kembe hyr hed,
Hir dowves, and daun Cupido
Hir blynde sone, and Vulcano,
That in his face was ful broun.
But as I romed up and doun,
I fond that on a wall ther was
Thus writen on a table of bras:
" I wol now synge, yif I kan,
The armes and also the man
That first cam, thurgh his destinee,
Fugityf of Troy contree,
In Itayle, with ful moche pyne
Unto the strondes of Lavyne. "
And tho began the story anoon,
As I shal telle yow echon.
First sawgh I the destruction
Of Troye thurgh the Grek Synon,
[That] with his false forswerynge,
And his chere and his lesynge,
Made the hors broght into Troye,
Thorgh which Troyens loste al her joye.
And aftir this was grave, allas,
How Ilyon assayled was
And wonne, and kyng Priam yslayn
And Polytes his sone, certayn,
Dispitously, of daun Pirrus.
And next that sawgh I how Venus,
Whan that she sawgh the castel brende,
Doun fro the heven gan descende,
And bad hir sone Eneas flee;
And how he fledde, and how that he
Escaped was from al the pres,
And took his fader Anchises,
And bar hym on hys bak away,
Cryinge, " Allas, and welaway! "
The whiche Anchises in hys hond
Bar the goddes of the lond,
Thilke that unbrende were.
And I saugh next, in al thys fere,
How Creusa, daun Eneas wif,
Which that he lovede as hys lyf,
And hir yonge sone Iulo,
And eke Askanius also,
Fledden eke with drery chere,
That hyt was pitee for to here;
And in a forest as they wente,
At a turnynge of a wente,
How Creusa was ylost, allas,
That ded, not I how, she was;
How he hir soughte, and how hir gost
Bad hym to flee the Grekes host,
And seyde he moste unto Itayle,
As was hys destinee, sauns faille;
That hyt was pitee for to here,
When hir spirit gan appere,
The wordes that she to hym seyde,
And for to kepe hir sone hym preyde.
Ther sawgh I graven eke how he,
Hys fader eke, and his meynee,
With hys shippes gan to saylle
Towardes the contree of Itaylle
As streight as that they myghte goo.
Ther saugh I thee, cruel Juno,
That art daun Jupiteres wif,
That hast yhated al thy lyf
Al the Troianysshe blood,
Renne and crye as thou were wood
On Eolus, the god of wyndes,
To blowen oute, of alle kyndes,
So lowde that he shulde drenche
Lord and lady, grom and wenche,
Of al the Troian nacion,
Withoute any savacion.
Ther saugh I such tempeste aryse
That every herte myght agryse
To see hyt peynted on the wal.
Ther saugh I graven eke withal,
Venus, how ye, my lady dere,
Wepynge with ful woful chere,
Prayen Jupiter on hye
To save and kepe that navye
Of the Troian Eneas,
Syth that he hir sone was.
Ther saugh I Joves Venus kysse,
And graunted of the tempest lysse.
Ther saugh I how the tempest stente,
And how with alle pyne he wente,
And prively tok arryvage
In the contree of Cartage;
And on the morwe, how that he
And a knyght highte Achate
Mette with Venus that day,
Goynge in a queynt array
As she had ben an hunteresse,
With wynd blowynge upon hir tresse;
How Eneas gan hym to pleyne,
When that he knew hir, of his peyne;
And how his shippes dreynte were,
Or elles lost, he nyste where;
How she gan hym comforte thoo,
And bad hym to Cartage goo,
And ther he shulde his folk fynde,
That in the see were left behynde.
And, shortly of this thyng to pace,
She made Eneas so in grace
Of Dido, quene of that contree,
That, shortly for to tellen, she
Becam hys love and let him doo
Al that weddynge longeth too.
What shulde I speke more queynte,
Or peyne me my wordes pevnte
To speke of love? Hyt wol not be;
I kan not of that faculte.
And eke to telle the manere
How they aqueynteden in fere,
Hyt were a long proces to telle,
And over-long for yow to dwelle.
Ther sawgh I grave how Eneas
Tolde Dido every caas
That hym was tyd upon the see.
And after grave was how shee
Made of hym shortly at oo word
Hyr lyf, hir love, hir lust, hir lord,
And dide hym al the reverence
And leyde on hym al the dispence
That any woman myghte do,
Wenynge hyt had al be so
As he hir swor; and herby demed
That he was good, for he such semed.
Allas! what harm doth apparence,
Whan hit is fals in existence!
For he to hir a traytour was;
Wherfore she slow hirself, allas!
Loo, how a woman doth amys
To love hym that unknowen ys!
For, be Cryste, lo, thus yt fareth:
" Hyt is not al gold that glareth. "
For also browke I wel myn hed,
Ther may be under godlyhed
Kevered many a shrewed vice.
Therfore be no wyght so nyce
To take a love oonly for chere,
Or speche, or for frendly manere,
For this shal every woman fynde,
That som man, of his pure kynde,
Wol shewen outward the fayreste,
Tyl he have caught that what him leste;
And thanne wol he causes fynde
And swere how that she ys unkynde,
Or fals, or privy, or double was.
Al this seye I be Eneas
And Dido, and hir nyce lest,
That loved al to sone a gest;
Therfore I wol seye a proverbe,
That " he that fully knoweth th'erbe
May saufly leye hyt to his yi " —
Withoute drede, this ys no lye.
But let us speke of Eneas,
How he betrayed hir, allas,
And lefte hir ful unkyndely.
So when she saw al utterly
That he wolde hir of trouthe fayle,
And wende fro hir to Itayle,
She gan to wringe hir hondes two.
" Allas, " quod she, " what me ys woo!
Allas, is every man thus trewe,
That every yer wolde have a newe,
Yf hit so longe tyme dure,
Or elles three, peraventure?
As thus: of oon he wolde have fame
In magnyfyinge of hys name;
Another for frendshippe, seyth he;
And yet ther shal the thridde be
That shal be take for delyt,
Loo, or for synguler profit. "
In suche wordes gan to pleyne
Dydo of hir grete peyne,
As me mette redely —
Non other auctour alegge I.
" Allas! " quod she, " my swete herte,
Have pitee on my sorwes smerte,
And slee mee not! Goo noght awey!
O woful Dido, wel-away! "
Quod she to hirselve thoo.
" O Eneas, what wol ye doo?
O that your love, ne your bond
That ye have sworn with your ryght hond,
Ne my crewel deth, " quod she
" May holde yow stille here with me!
O haveth of my deth pitee!
Iwys, my dere herte, ye
Knowen ful wel that never yit,
As ferforth as I hadde wyt,
Agylte [I] yow in thoght ne dede.
O, have ye men such godlyhede
In speche, and never a del of trouthe?
Allas, that ever hadde routhe
Any woman on any man!
Now see I wel, and telle kan,
We wrechched wymmen konne noon art;
For certeyn, for the more part,
Thus we be served everychone.
How sore that ye men konne groone,
Anoon as we have yow receyved,
Certaynly we ben deceyvyd!
For, though your love laste a seson,
Wayte upon the conclusyon,
And eke how that ye determynen,
And for the more part diffynen.
" O wel-awey that I was born!
For thorgh yow is my name lorn,
And alle myn actes red and songe
Over al thys lond, on every tonge.
O wikke Fame! — for ther nys
Nothing so swift, lo, as she is!
O, soth ys, every thing ys wyst,
Though hit be kevered with the myst.
Eke, though I myghte duren ever,
That I have don rekever I never,
That I ne shal be seyd, allas,
Yshamed be thourgh Eneas,
And that I shal thus juged be:
" Loo, ryght as she hath don, now she
Wol doo eft-sones, hardely" —
Thus seyth the peple prively. "
But that is don, is not to done;
Al hir compleynt ne al hir moone,
Certeyn, avayleth hir not a stre.
And when she wiste sothly he
Was forth unto his shippes goon,
She into hir chambre wente anoon,
And called on hir suster Anne,
And gan hir to compleyne thanne,
And seyde that she cause was
That she first loved him, allas,
And thus counseylled hir thertoo.
But what! When this was seyd and doo,
She rof hirselve to the herte
And deyde thorgh the wounde smerte.
And al the maner how she deyde,
And alle the wordes that she seyde,
Whoso to knowe hit hath purpos,
Rede Virgile in Eneydos
Or the Epistle of Ovyde,
What that she wrot or that she dyde;
And nere hyt to long to endyte,
Be God, I wolde hyt here write.
But wel-away, the harm, the routhe,
That hath betyd for such untrouthe,
As men may ofte in bokes rede,
And al day sen hyt yet in dede,
That for to thynken hyt, a tene is.
Loo Demophon, duk of Athenys,
How he forswor hym ful falsly,
And traysed Phillis wikkidly,
That kynges doghtre was of Trace,
And falsly gan hys terme pace;
And when she wiste that he was fals,
She heng hirself ryght be the hals,
For he had doon hir such untrouthe.
Loo, was not this a woo and routhe?
Eke lo how fals and reccheles
Was to Breseyda Achilles,
And Paris to Oenone,
And Jason to Isiphile,
And eft Jason to Medea,
And Ercules to Dyanira,
For he left hir for Yole,
That made hym cache his deth, parde.
How fals eke was he Theseus,
That, as the story telleth us,
How he betrayed Adriane —
The devel be hys soules bane!
For had he lawghed, had he loured,
He moste have ben al devoured,
Yf Adriane ne had ybe.
And for she had of hym pite,
She made hym fro the deth escape,
And he made hir a ful fals jape;
For aftir this, withyn a while,
He lefte hir slepynge in an ile
Desert allone, ryght in the se,
And stal away and let hir be,
And took hir suster Phedra thoo
With him, and gan to shippe goo.
And yet he had yswore to here
On al that ever he myghte swere
That, so she saved hym hys lyf,
He wolde have take hir to hys wif;
For she desired nothing ellis,
In certeyn, as the book us tellis.
But to excusen Eneas
Fullyche of al his grete trespas,
The book seyth Mercurie, sauns fayle,
Bad hym goo into Itayle,
And leve Auffrikes regioun,
And Dido and hir faire toun.
Thoo sawgh I grave how to Itayle
Daun Eneas is goo to sayle;
And how the tempest al began,
And how he loste hys sterisman,
Which that the stere, or he tok kep,
Smot over bord, loo, as he slep.
And also sawgh I how Sybile
And Eneas, besyde an yle,
To helle wente for to see
His fader, Anchyses the free;
How he ther fond Palinurus,
And Dido, and eke Deiphebus;
And every turment eke in helle
Saugh he, which is longe to telle;
Which whoso willeth for to knowe,
He moste rede many a rowe
On Virgile or on Claudian,
Or Daunte, that hit telle kan.
Tho saugh I grave al the aryvayle
That Eneas had in Itayle;
And with kyng Latyne hys tretee
And alle the batayles that hee
Was at hymself, and eke hys knyghtis,
Or he had al ywonne his ryghtis;
And how he Turnus reft his lyf;
And wan Lavina to his wif;
And alle the mervelous signals
Of the goddys celestials;
How, mawgree Juno, Eneas,
For al hir sleight and hir compas,
Acheved al his aventure,
For Jupiter took of hym cure
At the prayer of Venus —
The whiche I preye alwey save us,
And us ay of oure sorwes lyghte!
When I had seen al this syghte
In this noble temple thus,
" A, Lord, " thoughte I, " that madest us,
Yet sawgh I never such noblesse
Of ymages, ne such richesse,
As I saugh graven in this chirche;
But not wot I whoo did hem wirche,
Ne where I am, ne in what contree.
But now wol I goo out and see,
Ryght at the wiket, yf y kan
See owhere any stiryng man
That may me telle where I am. "
When I out at the dores cam,
I faste aboute me beheld.
Then sawgh I but a large feld,
As fer as that I myghte see,
Withouten toun, or hous, or tree,
Or bush, or grass, or eryd lond;
For al the feld nas but of sond
As smal as man may se yet lye
In the desert of Lybye.
Ne no maner creature
That ys yformed be Nature
Ne sawgh I, me to rede or wisse.
" O Crist, " thoughte I, " that art in blysse,
Fro fantome and illusion
Me save! " And with devocion
Myn eyen to the hevene I caste.
Thoo was I war, lo, at the laste,
That faste be the sonne, as hye
As kenne myghte I with myn yi,
Me thoughte I sawgh an egle sore,
But that hit semed moche more
Then I had any egle seyn.
But this as sooth as deth, certeyn,
Hyt was of gold, and shon so bryghte
That never sawe men such a syghte,
But yf the heven had ywonne
Al newe of gold another sonne;
So shone the egles fethers bryghte,
And somwhat dounward gan hyt lyghte.

Explicit liber primus.
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