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For under a coloure a truthe may aryse,
As was the guyse in olde antiquitie,
Of the poetes olde, a tale to surmyse,
To cloke the truthe of their infirmitie,
Or yet on joye to have mortalitie.
I me excuse if by neglygence
That I do offende for lacke of science.
HOWE GRAUNDE AMOURE WALKED IN A MEDOWE, AND MET WYTH FAME ENVYRONED WITH TONGUES OF FYRE.
WHEN Phebus entred was in Geminy,
Shynyng above in his fayre golden spere,
And horned Dyane then but one degre
In the Crabbe had entred fayre and cleare;
When that Aurora did well appeare
In the depured ayre and cruddy firmament,
Forth then I walked without impediment
Into a medowe both gaye and glorious,
Whiche Flora depainted with many a colour,
Lyke a place of pleasure moste solacious,
Encensyng out the aromatike odoure
Of Zepherus breath, whiche that every
Through his fume doth alwaye engender.
So as I went among the flowres tender,
By sodayne chaunce a fayre path I founde,
On whiche I loked and ryght oft I mused,
And then all about I behelde the grounde
With the fayre path whiche I sawe so used.
My chaunce or fortune I nothyng refused;
But in the path forth I went apace,
To knowe whether and unto what place
It woulde me bryng by any similitude.
So forth I went, were it ryght or wrong,
Tyll that I sawe of royall pulchritude
Before my face an ymage fayre and strong,
With two fayre handes stretched out along
Unto two hye wayes there in particion,
And in the ryght hande was this description:
This is the strayght waye of contemplacion
Unto the joyfull tower perdurable:
Who that will unto that mancion,
He must forsake all thinges variable,
With the vayne glory so muche deceivable,
And though the way be hard and daungerous,
The last ende therof shal be ryght precious.
And in the other hande ryght fayre wrytten was,
This is the way of worldly dignitie;
Of the active life who wyll in it passe
Unto the tower of fayre dame Beautye,
Fame shall tell hym of the way of certaintie
Unto La Bell Pucell, the fayre lady excellent,
Above all other in cleare beauty splendent.
I behelde ryght well bothe the wayes twayne,
And mused oft whiche was best to take;
The one was sharpe, the other was more playne;
And unto my selfe I began to make
A sodayne argument, for I myght not slake
Of my great musyng of this royall ymage,
And of these two wayes so muche in usage.
For this goodly picture was in altitude
Nyne fote and more, of fayre marble stone,
Ryght well favoured and of great altitude,
Though it were made full many yeres agone.
Thus stode I musynge my selfe all alone
By right long tyme; at the last I went
The active waye with all my whole entent.
Thus all alone I began to travayle
Forthe on my waye by long continuaunce;
But often tymes I had great marvayle
Of the by pathes so full of pleasaunce,
Whiche for to take I had great doubtaunce;
But evermore, as nere as I myght
I toke the waye whiche went before me ryght.
And at the last, when Phebus in the west
Gan to avayle with all his beames mery,
When cleare Dyana in the fayre south est
Gan for to ryse, lightyng our emispery
With clowdes cleare without the stormy pery,
Me thought afarre I had a vysyon
Of a picture of marveylous facion:
To whiche I went without lenger delaye,
Beholdyng well the ryght faire portrayture
Made of fyne copper, shydyng faire and gaye,
Full well truely accordyng to measure,
And, as I thought, nyne fote of stature,`
Yet in the brest with letters fayre and blewe
Was wrytten a sentence olde and true:
This is the waye and the sytuacion
Unto the toure of famous doctrine:
Who that wil learne must be ruled by reason
And with all his diligence he must enclyne
Slouthe to eschue and for to determine,
And set his hert to be intelligible;
To a willyng harte is nought impossible.
Besyde the ymage I adowne me sette,
After my laboure my selfe to repose,
Tyll at the last with a gaspyng nette
Slouth my head caught with his whole purpose.
It vayled not the bodye for to dispose
Against the head, when it is applyed,
The head must rule, it cannot be denied.
Thus as I satte in a deadly slomber,
Of a great horne I harde a royal blast,
With which I awoke, and had a great wonder
From whence it came: it made me sore agast.
I loked about; the nyght was wel nere past,
And fayre golden Phebus in the morow graye
With cloudes redde began to breake the daye.
I sawe come ryding in a valey farre
A goodly ladye, envyroned about
With tongues of fyre as bright as any starre,
That fyry flambes ensensed alway out,
Whiche I behelde and was in great doubte;
Her palfrey swyft renning as the winde,
With two white grayhoundes that were not behynde.