Old Books

A thousand times have I herd men telle
That ther is joy in heven and paine in helle,
And I acorde wel that it is so;
But natheless yet wot I wel also
That ther n'is none dwelling in this contree
That either hath in hell or heven be,
Ne may of it none other wayes witen
But as he hath herd said or found it writen:
For by assay ther may no man it preve.
But God forbede but men shulde leve
Wel more thing than men han seen with eye!
Men shal not wenen every thing a lye
But if himself it seeth or elles dooth:
For, God wot, thing is never the lesse sooth,
Though every wight ne may it not y-see:
" Bernard the monk ne saugh not all", pardee!
Then mote we to bookes that we finde,
Thurgh which that olde thinges been in minde,
And to the doctrine of these olde wise
Yive credence, in every skilful wise,
That tellen of these olde appreved stories
Of holyness, of reignes, of victories,
Of love, of hate, of other sundry thinges
Of which I may not maken rehersinges.
And if that olde bookes were awey,
Y-loren were of remembraunce the key.
Wel ought us then honouren and beleve
These bookes, ther we han none other preve.
And as for me, though that I can but lite,
On bookes for to rede I me delite,
And to hem yive I faith and ful credence,
And in myn hert have hem in reverence
So hertely, that ther is game non
That fro my bookes maketh me to gon,
But it be seldom on the holyday;
Save, certainly, when that the month of May
Is come, and that I here the fowles singe,
And that the flowres ginnen for to springe,
Farewel my book and my devocioun!
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