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But cried anon “Cok cok," and up he stert,
As man that was affrayèd in his hert.
For naturally a beast desireth flee
Fro his contràry, if he may it see,
Though he never ere had seyn it with his eye.
This Chanticleer, whan he gan it aspie,
He would han fled ; but that the fox anon
Said: “Gentil sir, alas! why wol ye go'n?
Be ye afraid of me that am your friend?
Certes I were worse than any fiend
If I to you would harm or villany.
I am nought come your counsel to espie.
But truely the cause of my coming
Was only for to hearken how ye sing :
For truely ye have als merry a steven
As any angel hath that is in heaven;
Therewith ye han of music more feeling
Than had Boece, or any that can sing.
My lord your fader (God his soule bless !)
And youre moder, of her gentiless,
Han in mine housè been, to my gret ease :
And certes, sir, full fain would I you please.
But for men speak of singing, I wol say-
So mot I brooke? well mine eyen twey,
Save ye I hearde never man so sing
As dede your fader in the morwening.
Certes it was of heart all that he song.
And, for to make his voice the more strong,
He would so painen him that with both his eyen
He muste wink-so loud he woulde cryen;
And stonden on his tiptoen therewithal,
And stretche forth his necke long and small.
And eke he was of such discretion
That there was no man in no region
That him in song or wisdom mighte pass.
I have well rad in Daun Burnel? the ass,
Among his verses, how there was a cock
That, for a prieste's son gave him a knock
Upon his leg while he was young and nice,
He made him for to lese his benefice.
But certain there is no comparison
Betwix the wisdom and discretion
Of youre fader and of his subtlety.
Now singeth, sir, for Sainte Charity !
Let see can ye your fader counterfeit."
This Chanticleer his winges gan to beat,
, The satirical poem, Burnellus, written by Nigellus Wireker.
As man that couth his treason nought espie,
So was he ravished with his flattery.
Alas! ye lordlings, many a false flattour
Is in your house, and many a losengour,
That pleasen you well morè, by my faith,
Than he that soothfastness unto you saith.
Readeth Ecclesiast of flattery :
Beware, ye lordes, of here treachery.
This Chanticleer stood high upon his toes,
Stretching his neck; and held his eyen close,
And gan to crowe loude for the nonce :
And Daun Russėl the fox stert up at once,
And by the garget hentè Chanticleer,
And on his back toward the wood him bare-
For yit was there no man that had him sued.
O destiny, that mayst not ben eschewed !
Alas that Chanticleer fley fro the beams !
Alas his wife ne roughtè nought of dreams !
And on a Friday fell all this mischance.
O Venus, that art goddess of pleasance,
Sin' that thy servant was this Chanticleer,
And in thy service did all his powere,
More for delight than th' world to multiply,
Why wouldst thou suffer him on thy day to die?
O Gaufred, deare maister soveraign,
That, whan the worthy King Richárd was slain
With shot, complainedest his death so sore,
Why n'had I nought thy sentence and thy lore
The Friday for to chiden as dede ye-
For on a Friday soothly slain was he?
Than would I showe how that I couth plain
For Chanticleere's dread and for his pain.
Certes such cry ne lamentation
Was never of ladies made whan Ilion
Was won, and Pyrrhus with his streitė swerd,
Whan he had hent King Priam by the berd,
And slaw him (as saith us Eneïdos),
As maden all the hennes in the close
Whan they had seyn of Chanticleer the sight.
But sovereignly dame Pertiloté shright
Full louder than did Hasdrubaldè's wife,
Whan that her housëbond had lost his life,
And that the Romans had ybrent Cartage : 1 Sycophant.
She was so full of torment and of rage
That wilfully unto the fire she stert,
And brenned herselven with a stedfast hert.
O woful hennes ! right-so criede ye
As, whan that Nero brentè the citee
Of Rome, crieden the senatoures' wives,
For that here housbonds losten all here lives :
Withouten gult, this Nero had hem slayn.
Now wol I turn to my matteer again.
The silly widow and her daughters two
Hearden these hennes cry and maken woe ;
And out at doores starten they anon,
And seyen the fox toward the wood is gone,
And bare upon his back the cock away.
They crieden: Out, haro, and wellaway !
Ha ha! The fox !”— And after him they ran,
And eke with staves many another man.
Ran Coll our dog, and Talbot, and Garlond,
And Malkin with a distaff in her hond :
Ran cow and calf, and eke the very hogs ;-
So were they feared for barking of the dogs,
And shouting of the men and women eke,
They ronnè that they thought here hearte breke.
They yellëden as fiendes doon in hell :
The duckes crieden as men would hem quell.?
The geese for feare flow'n over the trees :
Out of the hivè came the swarm of bees.
So hidous was the noise-ah benedicite !
Certes he Jacke Straw, and his meynė,
Ne maden shoutes never half so shrill
Whan that they woulden any Fleming kill
As thilkė day was made upon the fox.
Of brass they broughten hornęs, and of box,
Of horn and bone, in which they blew and pouped, 2
And therewithal they shrieked and they whooped :
It seemed as that heaven shoulde fall.
Now, goode men, I pray you hearkeneth all :
Lo how fortuné turneth suddenly
The hope and pride eke of her enemy:
This cock that lay upon this fox's back,
In all his dread unto the fox he spak,
And saide : “Sir, if that I were as ye,
Yet should I sayn, as wise God helpe me-
'Turneth again, ye proude churles all !
A very pestilence upon you fall !
Now am I come unto this woode's side,
Maugre your head the cock shall here abide :
I wol him eat in faith, and that anon.'
The fox answered : “In faith, it shall be done !"
And, while he spake that word, all suddenly,
This cock brake from his mouth deliverly,
And high upon a tree he fley anon.
And, whan the fox sey that he was ygone,
“Alas !” quod he, "O Chanticleer, alas !
I have to you," quod he, "ydone trespass,
Inasmuch as I maked you afeard,
Whan I you hent, and brought out of the yerd.
But, sir, I dede it in no wicked intent:
Come doun, and I shall tell you what I meant.
I shall say sooth to you, God help me so !”
“Nay than," quod he, "I shrew us bothe two,
And first I shrew myself, both blood and bones,
If thou beguile me any ofter than once.
Thou shalt no more thorough thy flattery
Do me to sing and winke with mine eye :
For he that winketh whan he shoulde see,
All wilfully, God let him never the "
“Nay," quod the fox, “but God give him mischance
That is so undiscreet of governance
That jangleth whan he shoulde hold his peace !"
Lo such it is for to be rechëless
And negligent, and trust on flattery.
But ye that holde this tale a follie
As of a fox, or of a cock or hen,-
Tak’th the morality thereof, good men :
For Saint Poul saith that all that written is,
To our doctrine it is ywrit, I wis.
Taketh the fruit, and let the chaff be still.
Now goode God, if that it be thy will
(As saith my lord), so make as all good men,-
And bring us alle to his bliss, Amen!
ADAM OF COBSAM. [Nothing seems to be known about this writer, except that his poem must bear date somewhere towards 1462. It was discovered by that indefatigable student of our early literature Mr. F. J. Furnivall, in a MS. in the Library of the Archbishop of Canterbury; and was by him published in 1865 for the Early English Text Society).
THE WRIGHT'S CHASTE WIFE.
ALMIGHTY God, Maker of all,
Save you, my sovereigns, in tower and hall,
And send you good grace !
If ye will a stoundè blyn,
Of a story I will begin,
And tell you all the case,
Many farleyes that I have heard;
Ye would have wonder how it fared :
Listen, and ye shall hear:
Of a wright I will you tell
That sometime in this land gan dwell,
And lived by his mystere.
Whether that he were in or out,
Of earthly man had he no doubt
To work house, harrow, nor plough,
Or other works, whatso they were :
Thus wrought he hem far and near,
And did them well enow.
This wright would wed no wife,
But in youth to lead his life
In mirth and other melody :
Overall where he gan wend,
Alle they said : “Welcome, friend ;
Sit down, and do gladly."
Till on a time he was willing
(As time cometh of all thing,
So saith the prophecy)
A wife for to wed and have
That might his goodes keep and save,
And for to leave all folly.
There dwelled a widow in that countrie
That had a daughter fair and free:
Of her, word sprang wide-
For she was both stable and true,
Meek of manners, and fair of hue :
So said men in that tide.
The wright said : “So God me save,
Such a wifè would I have
To lie nightly by my side."