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The Srgument.

A gentlewoman out of an arbour in a grove seeth a great company of

knights and ladies in a dance upon the green grais, the which being entied ihey all kneel down and do honour to the dailie, some to the Flower and some to the Leaf : afterward ibis senilewoman learneth by one of theie ladies the nicaning hereof, which is this; they which honour the Flower, a thing fading with every blait, are such as look after beauty and worldly pleasure, but they that honour the Leaf, which abideth with the root notwithfinding the froits and winter forins, are they which follow virtue and during qualities, withoutiegard of woridiy refpects.

Wen that Phæbus his chair of gold fo hie
Had whirlid up the sterrie sky aloft,
And in the Bole was entrid certainly,
When shouris sote of rain descendid foft,
Causing the ground felè timis and oft
Up for to give many an wholesome air,
And every plain was yclothid faire

With newè grene, and makith smalè Alours
To springin here and there in field and mede,
So very gode and wholesome be the shours,
That they renewin that was old and dede
In wintir time, and out of every fede
Springith the herbè, so that every wight
Of this scson wexith richt glade and light;


And I so gladè of the seson swete,
Was happid thus; upon a certain night
As I lay in my bed slepe full unmete
Was unto me, but why that I ne might
Reft I ne wift, for there n'as erthly wight
[As I suppose] had more of hertis ese
Than I, for I n'ad sicknesse nor disefe;

21 Wherfore I mervaile gretly of my

That I so long withoutin fepè lay,
And up I rose thre houris aftir twelfe,
About the springing of the gladsome day,
And on I put my gear and mine aray,
And to a plesaunt grove i gan to pas or the bright fonnè uprisin was,

In which were okis grete, freight as a line,
Undir the which the grass so freske of hew
Was newly sprong, and an eight fote or nine
Every tre well fro his fellow grew,
With braunchis brode ladin with levis new,
That sprongin out agen che fonnè fhene,
Some very rede, and some a glad light grene, 35

Which (as me thought] was a right plesaunt light; And eke the birdis fongis for to here Would have rejoisid any erthly wight, And I, that couth not yet in no manere Herin the nightingale of all the yere, Full busily herk’nid with hert and ere If I her voice perceve could any where :


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And at the last a path of litil brede
I found, that gretly had not usid be,
For it forgrowin was with grass and wede,
That well unnethis a wight might it se;
Thought I, this path sone whidir goth parde;
And so I followid till it me brought
To a right plesaunt herbir wel ywrought,

Which that benchid was, and with turfis new
Freshly turvid, whereof the grenè grass
So small, so thick, fu fhort, so fresh of hew,
That nioit like to grene woll wot I it was ;
The hegge also, that yedin in compas,
And closid in allè the grenc herbere,
With sycamor was set and eglaterc

Within, in fere so well and cunningly,
That every braunch and lefe grew by mesure
Plain as a bord, of an height by and by;
I fe nevir a thing (l you ensure]
So well ydone, for he that toke the cure
It for to make [l trowe) did all his peine
To make it pass all tho that men have seine.

And shapin was this herbir rofe and all
As is a pretty parlour, and also
The hegge as chick as is a cafil wall,
That who chat lift without ro ftond or go,
Thogh he wold all day pryin to and fro
He should not se if there were any wight
Within or no, but one within well might
Volume XII.


70 77


Perceve all tho that yedin there without
Into the field, that was on every side
Cover'd with corn and grass, that out of doubt
Tho one would Itkin all the worldè wide
So rich a feldè could not be espyde
Upon no cost, as of the quantity,
For of alle gode thing there was plenty.

And I, that all these plesaunt fightis se,
Thought suddainly i felt so swete an air
Of the eglenterè, that certainly
There is no hert (I denie] in such dispair,
Ne yet with thoughtis froward and contraire
So overlaid, but it should sone have bote
If it had onis felt this favour fote.

And as I stode and cast aside mine eye
I was ware of the fairift medler tre
That evir yet in all my life I se,
As full of blossomis as it might be,
Therein a goldfinch leping pretily
From bough tu bough, and as him list he ete
Here and there of buddis and flouris fwete.

And to the herbir side was adjoyning
This fairilt tre of which I have you told,
And at the last the bird began to fing
[Whan he had erin what he etin would]
So paffiny swetely that by many fold
It was more plesaunt than I couth devise;
And whan his song was endid in this wise


98 IOS



The nightingale with so mery a note
Answerid him, that alle the wode yrong
So sodainly, that as it were a sote
I stode astonied, and was with the song
Thorow ravilhid, that till late and long
I ne wist in what place I was ne where,
Ayen methought she song e'en by mine ere:

Wherefore I waitid about busily
On every side if I her might te,
And at the last I gan full well aspy
Where she sate in a fresh grene laury tre,
On the furthir fide evin right by me,
That gave so passing a delicious smell,
According to the eglantere full well;

Whereof I had so inly grete plesure,
As methought I surely ravishid was
Into Paradise, wherein my desire
Was for to be, and no ferthir to pas
As for that day, and on the sotè grass
I sat me down, for as for mine entent
The birdis song was more convenient
And more plesaunt to me by many

Than mete or drink, or any othir thing,
Thereto the herbir was so fresh and cold,
The wholsome savours eke so comforting,
That (as I demid] sith the beginning
of the worldè was nevir seen er than
So plesaunt a ground of none erthly man.



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