Confessio Amantis, Book III

John Gower 1330 (Kent) – 1408 (London)



Appolinus his lev{.e} tok,
  To God and al the lond betok
  With al the poeple long and brod,
  That he no lenger there abod.
  The king and queen{.e} sorw{.e} mad{.e},
  Bot yit somdiel thei weren glad{.e}
  Of such thing as thei herden tho:
  And thus betwen the wel and wo
  To schip he goth, his wif with child{.e},
  The which was ever{.e} meke and myld{.e}
  And wold{.e} noght departe him fro,
  Such lov{.e} was betwen hem tuo.
  Lichorida for hire offic{.e}
  Was tak{.e}, which was a norric{.e},
  To wend{.e} with this yong{.e} wif,
  To whom was schape a woful lif.
  Withinne a time, as it betidd{.e},
  Whan thei were in the see amidd{.e},
  Out of the north they sihe a cloud{.e};
  The storm aros, the wynd{.e}s loud{.e}
  Thei blewen many a dredful blast,
  The welkn{.e} was al overcast,
  The derk{.e} nyht the sonne hath under,
  Ther was a gret tempeste of thunder:
  The mone and ek the sterr{.e}s both{.e}
  In blak{.e} cloud{.e}s thei hem cloth{.e},
  Wherof here briht{.e} lok thei hyd{.e}.
  This yong{.e} ladi wepte and crid{.e},
  To whom no confort myhte avail{.e};
  Of child{.e} sche began travail{.e},
  Wher sche lay in a caban clos:
  Hire woful lord fro hire aros,
  And that was longe er eny morw{.e},
  So that in anguisse and in sorw{.e}
  Sche was deliver{.e}d al be nyht{.e}
  And ded in every mannes syht{.e};
  Bot nath{.e}les for al this wo
  A maid{.e} child was bor{.e} tho.

     Appolinus whan he this knew,
  For sorwe a swoune he overthrew,
  That noman wiste in him no lif.
  And whanne he wok, he seide, "Ha, wif,
  Mi lust, mi joi{.e}, my desir,
  Mi welthe and my recoverir,
  Why schal I live, and thou schalt dy{.e}?
  Ha, thou fortune, I thee deffi{.e},
  Nou hast thou do to me thi werst{.e}.
  Ha, hert{.e}, why ne wolt thou berst{.e},
  That forth with hire I myht{.e} pass{.e}?
  Mi pein{.e}s weren wel the lass{.e}."
  In such wepinge and in such cry
  His ded{.e} wif, which lay him by,
  A thousend sith{.e}s he hire kist{.e};
  Was nevere man that sih ne wist{.e}
  A sorwe unto his sorw{.e} lich;
  For evere among, upon the lich
  He fell swounende, as he that soght{.e}
  His oghn{.e} deth, which he besoght{.e}
  Unto the godd{.e}s alle abov{.e}
  With many a pitous word of lov{.e};
  Bot such{.e} word{.e}s as tho wer{.e}
  Yit herd{.e} nevere mannes er{.e},
  Bot only thilk{.e} whiche he seid{.e}.
  The maister schipman cam and preid{.e}
  With othr{.e} suche as be therinn{.e},
  And sein that he mai nothing winn{.e}
  Ayein the deth, bot thei him red{.e},
  He be wel war and tak hied{.e},
  The see be weie of his natur{.e}
  Receiv{.e} mai no creatur{.e}
  Withinne himself as forto hold{.e},
  The which is ded: forthi thei wold{.e},
  As thei conseilen al about{.e},
  The ded{.e} body casten out{.e}.
  For betre it is, thei seiden all{.e},
  That it of hir{.e} so befall{.e},
  Than if thei scholden all{.e} spill{.e}.

     The king, which understod here will{.e}
  And knew here conseil that was trew{.e},
  Began ayein his sorw{.e} new{.e}
  With pitous herte, and thus to sei{.e}:
  "It is al reson that ye prei{.e}.
  I am," quod he, "bot on al on{.e},
  So wolde I noght for mi person{.e}
  There fell{.e} such adversité.
  Bot whan it mai no betr{.e} be,
  Doth thann{.e} thus upon my word,
  Let make a cofr{.e} strong of bord,
  That it be ferm with led and pich."
  Anon was mad a cofr{.e} sich,
  Al redy broght unto his hond;
  And whanne he sih and redy fond
  This cofr{.e} mad and wel enclow{.e}d,
  The ded{.e} bodi was besow{.e}d
  In cloth of gold and leid therinn{.e}.
  And for he wolde unto hir winn{.e}
  Upon som cooste a sepultur{.e},
  Under hire heved in aventur{.e}
  Of gold he leid{.e} somm{.e}s gret{.e}
  And of jeueals a strong beyet{.e}
  Forth with a lettre, and seid{.e} thus:

     "I, king of Tyr Appollinus,
  Do all{.e} maner men to wit{.e},
  That hiere and se this lettr{.e} writ{.e},
  That help{.e}les without{.e} red
  Hier lith a king{.e}s doghter ded:
  And who that happeth hir to find{.e},
  For charité tak in his mynd{.e},
  And do so that sche be begrav{.e}
  With this tr{.e}sor, which he schal hav{.e}."
  Thus whan the lettr{.e} was full spok{.e},
  Thei have anon the cofr{.e} stok{.e},
  And bounden it with yren fast{.e},
  That it may with the waw{.e}s last{.e},
  And stoppen it be such a wei{.e},
  That it schal be withinn{.e}
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Submitted on May 13, 2011

Modified on March 05, 2023

4:19 min read
29

Quick analysis:

Scheme AABBCCDDCCDBCCEECCCCFFGGCCCCCCHXCCCCDD IIEEXGCCCCCCJJCCKKCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCC CCCCCCCBCXBKKBXCCCCCCCCX HCCXBCCCCCCCCCC
Closest metre Iambic tetrameter
Characters 4,254
Words 869
Stanzas 4
Stanza Lengths 38, 39, 24, 15

John Gower

John Gower was an English poet, a contemporary of William Langland and a personal friend of Geoffrey Chaucer. more…

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