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Worship, O ye that lovers be, this May!
And therewith cast I down mine eye again,"
Of her array the form if I shall write,
XXIX. About her neck, white as the fair amaille, A goodly chain of small orfeverie, 2 Whereby there hang a ruby without fail Like to a heart yshapen verily, That as a spark of lowe 3 so wantonly Seemed burning upon her whitë throat; Now if there was good, perdie God it wrote.
xxx. And for to walk that freshë Mayë's morrow, A hook she had upon her tissue white, That goodlier had not been seen toforrow, 4 As I suppose, and girt she was a lite 5 Thus halfling 6 loose for haste; to such delight It was to see her youth in goodlihead, That for rudeness to speak thereof I dread.
XXXI. In her was youth, beauty with humble port, Bounty, richess, and womanly feature : (God better wot than my pen can report) · Wisdom, largèss, estate, and cunning 7 sure,
In word, in deed, in shape and countenance, That nature might no more her child advance,
1 'Amaille:' enamel. – Orfeverie:' goldsmith's work.–3 'Lowe;' fire.
Toforrow:' heretofore. -_Lite:' a little.—6 Haliling:' half.—'Cunning:' knowledge.
JOHN THE CHAPLAIN—THOMAS OCCLEVE. The first of these is the only versifier that can be assigned to England in the reign of Henry IV. His name was John Walton, though he was generally known as Johannes Capellanus, or John the Chaplain.' He was canon of Oseney, and died sub-dean of York. He, in the year 1410, translated Boethius' famous treatise, 'De Consolatione Philosophiæ,' into English verse. He is not known to have written anything original.—Thomas Occleve appeared in the reign of Henry V., about 1420. Like Chaucer and Gower, he was a student of municipal law, having attended Chester's Inn, which stood on the site of the present Somerset House; but although he trod in the footsteps of his celebrated predecessors, it was with far feebler powers. His original pieces are contemptible, both in subject and in execution. His best production is a translation of 'Egidius De Regimine Principum. Warton, alluding to the period at which these writers appeared, has the following oftquoted observations :—' I consider Chaucer a3 a genial day in an English spring. A brilliant sun enlivens the face of nature with an unusual lustre; the sudden appearance of cloudless skies, and the unexpected warmth of a tepid atmosphere, after the gloom and the inclemencies of a tedious winter, fill our hearts with the visionary prospect of a speedy summer, and we fondly anticipate a long continuance of gentle gales and vernal serenity. But winter returns with redoubled horrors; the clouds condense more formidably than before, and those tender buds and early blossoms which were called forth by the transient gleam of a temporary sunshine, are nipped by frosts and torn by tempests.' These sentences are, after all, rather pompous, and express, in the most verbose style of the Rambler, the simple fact, that after Chaucer's death the ground lay fallow, and that for a while in England (in Scotland it was otherwise) there were few poets, and little poetry.
JOHN LYDGATE. This copious and versatile writer flourished in the reign of Henry VI. Warton affirms that he reached his highest point of eminence in 1430, although some of his poems had appeared before. He was a monk of the Benedictine Abbey at Bury, in Suffolk. He received his education at Oxford; and when it was finished, he travelled through France and Italy, mastering the languages and literature of both countries, and studying their poets, particularly Dante, Boccaccio, and Alain Chartier. When he returned, he opened a school in his monastery for teaching the sons of the nobility composition and the art of versification. His acquirements were, for the age, universal. He was a poet, a rhetorician, an astronomer, a mathematician, a public disputant, and a theologian. He was born in 1370, ordained sub-deacon in 1389, deacon in 1393, and priest in 1397. The time of his death is uncertain. His great patron was Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, to whom he complains sometimes of necessitous circumstances, which were, perhaps, produced by indulgence, since he confesses himself to be 'a lover of wine.'
The great merit of Lydgate is his versatility. This Warton has happily expressed in a few sentences, which we shall quote:
He moves with equal ease in every form of composition. His hymns and his ballads have the same degree of merit; and whether his subject be the life of a hermit or a hero, of Saint Austin or Guy, Earl of Warwick, ludicrous or legendary, religious or romantic, a history or an allegory, he writes with facility. His transitions were rapid, from works of the most serious and laborious kind, to sallies of levity and pieces of popular entertainment. His muse was of universal access; and he was not only the poet of his monastery, but of the world in general. If a disguising was intended by the Company of Goldsmiths, a mask before His Majesty at Eltham, a May game for the sheriffs and aldermen of London, a mumming before the Lord Mayor, a procession of pageants, from the “ Creation," for
the Festival of Corpus Christi, or a carol for the coronation, Lydgate was consulted, and gave the poetry.'
Lydgate is, so far as we know, the first British bard who wrote for hire. At the request of Whethamstede, the Abbot of St Alban's, he translated a 'Life of St Alban' from Latin into English rhymes, and received for the whole work one hundred shillings. His principal poems, all founded on the works of other authors, are the · Fall of Princes,' the 'Siege of Thebes,' and the Destruction of Troy.' They are written in a diffuse and verbose style, but are generally clear in sense, and often very luxuriant in description. "The London Lyckpenny' is a. fugitive poem, in which the author describes himself coming up to town in search of legal redress for a wrong, and gives some curious particulars of the condition of that city in the early part of the fifteenth century.
CANACE, CONDEMNED TO DEATH BY HER FATHER ÆOLUS, SENDS
TO HER GUILTY BROTHER MACAREUS THE LAST TESTIMONY
This is mine end, I may it not astart;2
1. Abraid:' awake.—2 « Astart:' escape.—3 "Dey:' die.