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O pensyfe herte, in the stormy pery
Mercury northwest thou mayst se appere,
After tempest to glad thyne emespery;
Hoyse up thy sayle, for thou must drawe nere
Towarde the ende of thy purpose so clere,
Remembre the of the trace and daunce
Of poetes olde wyth all the purveyaunce.
As morall Gower, whose sentencyous dewe Adowne reflayreth with fayre golden bemes, And after Chaucers all abrode doth shewe, Our vyces to clense; his depared stremes Kyndlynge our hertes wyth the fyry lemes Of moral vertue, as is probable
In all hys bokes so swete and profytable.
The boke of fame, which is sentencyous,
He drewe hym selfe on hys own invencyon;
And than the tragidyes so pytous
Of the xix. ladyes, was his translacyon;
And upon hys ymaginacyon
He made also the tales of Caunterbury;
Some vertuous, and some glad and mery.
And of Troylus the pytous dolour
For his lady Cresyde, full of doublenes,
He did bewayle ful well the langoure,
Of all hys love and grete unhappines.
And many other bokes doubtles
He dyd compyle, whose godly name
In printed bokes doth remayne in fame.
And, after him, my mayster Lydgate,
The monke of Bury, dyd hym wel apply
Both to contryve and eke to translate;
And of vertue ever in especyally,
For he dyd compyle than full nyally
Of our blessed lady the conversacion,
Saint Edmunde's life martred with treson.
Of the fall of prynces, ryght wofully
He did endyte in all piteous wyse,
Folowynge his auctoure Bocas rufully;
A ryght greate boke he did truly compryse,
A good ensample for us to dispyse
This worlde, so ful of mutabilyte,
In whiche no man can have a certente.
And thre reasons ryght greatly profytable
Under coloure he cloked craftely;
And of the chorle he made the fable
That shutte the byrde in a cage so closely,
The pamflete sheweth it expressely;
He fayned also the courte of Sapyence,
And translated wyth al his dylygence
The grete boke of the last destruccyon
Of the cyte of Troye, whylome so famous,
How for woman was the confusyon ;
And betwene vertue and the lyfe vycyous
Of goddes and goddes, a boke solacyous
He did compyle, and the tyme to passe,
Of love he made the bryght temple of glasse.
Were not these thre gretly to commende,
Whyche them applyed such bokes to contryve,
Whose famous draughtes no man can amende?
The synne of slouth they dyd from them dryve,
After theyr death for to abyde on lyve
In worthy fame by many a nacyon,
Their bokes theyr actes do make relacyon.
O mayster Lydgate, the most dulcet sprynge
Of famous rethoryke, wyth balade ryall,
The chefe orygynal of my lernyng,
What vayleth it on you for to call
Me for to ayde, now in especiall;
Sythen your body is now wrapte in chest,
I pray God to gyve your soule good rest.
O what losse is it of suche a one!
It is to grete truely me for to tell;
Sythen the tyme that his lyfe was gone,
In al this realme his pere did not dwell;
Above al other he did so excell,
None sith his time in arte wolde succede, After their death to have fame for their mede.
But many a one is ryght well experte
In this connyng, but upon auctoryte,
They fayne no fables pleasaunt and covert,
But spende theyr time in vaynful vanyte,
Makynge balades of fervent amyte.
As gestes and tryfles wythout frutefulnes;
Thus al in vayne they spende their besynes.
I, lytell or nought expert in poetry,
Of my mayster Lydgate wyll folowe the trace,
As evermore so his name to magnyfy
Wyth suche lytle bokes, by Goddes grace,
If in this worlde I may have the space;
The lytell connyng that his grace me sente
In tyme amonge in suche wyse shall be spente.
And yet nothinge upon presumpcyon
My mayster Lydgate I wyll not envy,
But all onely is mine entencyon
With suche labour my selfe to occupy;
As whyte by blacke doth shyne more clerely,
So shal theyr matters appeare more pleasaunt
Besyde my draughtes rude and ignoraunt.
Now in my boke ferder to procede;
To a chambre I went, replete wyth rychesse,
Where sat Arysmatryke in a golden wede,
Lyke a lady pure and of great worthynes.
The walles about dyd full well expres,
With golde depaynted, every perfyte nombre,
To adde, detraye, and to devyde asonder.
The rofe was paynted with golden beames,
The wyndowes cristall clerely claryfyde,
The golden rayes and depured streames
Of radyant Phebus that was puryfyde
Right in the Bull, that tyme so domysyde,
Through windowes was resplendyshaunt
About the chambre fayre and radyaunt.
I kneled downe right soone on my kne,
And to her I sayd: O lady marveylous,
I right humbly beseche your majeste
Your arte to shewe me so facundyous,
Whyche is defuse and right fallacyous;
But I shall so apply myne exercyse,
That the vary trouth I shall well devyse.
My scyence, said she, is right necessary,
And in the myddes of the scyences all
It is now sette right well and parfytely;
For unto them it is so specyall,
Nombrynge so theyr werkes in generall,
Wythout me they had no parfytenes,
I must them nombre alwayes doubteles.
Without nombre is no maner of thynge,
That in our sight we may well se;
For God made all the begynnynge
In nombre perfyte well in certaynte,
Who knewe arsmetryke in every degre,
All maner nombre in his minde were had,
Bothe to detraye and to devyde and adde.