Imatges de pàgina
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THE HOUSE OF FAME.1

FIRST BOOK.

Proem.

God turne us every dreme to goode I For hyt is wonder, be the Roode,* To my wytte, what causeth swevenes * Eyther on morwes, or on evenes; And why theffecte folweth of somme, And of somme hit shal never come; Why that is an avisioun, And why this a revelacioun; Why this a dreme, why that a swevene, And noght to every man lyche evene; 10 Why this a fantome, why these oracles, I not: but who-so of these meracles The causes knoweth bet then I, Devyne he; for I certenly Ne kan hem noght, ne never thinke To besely my wytte to swinke,4

1 Professor Bemhard Ten Brink, in hit StndUn, pp. *0-94, pointa ant th? suggestions that Chaucer derived tor this poem from Dante, and says that the general plot is imitated from t.te Dwina CommtdiM. The coincidences are indicated in the notes. A number of lines alao *esemble passages in Virgil's Aintid and in Ovid's Metam&rpkotet 1 Holy Rood s Visions. 4 Belabor.

Vol. in. 1

1

To knowe of hir signifiaunce

The gendres, neyther the distaunce

Of tymes of hem, ne the causis,

For-why this is more then that cause is; SC

As yf folkys complexiouns 1

Make hem dreme of reflexiouns;

Or ellis thus, as other sayne,

For to grete feblenesse of her brayne,

By abstinence, or by sekenesse,

Prisoun, stewe2 or grete distresse;

Or ellis by disordynaunce,

Or naturell acustumaunce,

That somme man is to curiouse

In studye, or melancolyouse; 30

Or thus, so inly ful of drede,

That no man may hym bote bede; *

Or ellis that devocioun

Of somme, and contemplacioun,

Causeth suche dremes ofte;

Or that the cruelle lyfe unsofte

Whiche these ilke lovers leden,

Oft hopen over moche or dreden,

That purely here impressions

Causeth hem avisions; 40

Or yf that spiritis have the myght

To make folke to dreme anyght;

Or yf the soule, of propre kynde,*

Be so parfit as men fynde,

1 Temperaments or dispositions of the body. 2 That is, confine Bitot in prison or small apartment (stewe, closet). 'Otter com Ptculiar nature (tur nturu\

THE GOD OF SLEEP INVOKED. 3

That yt forwote1 that vs to come.

And that hyt warneth al and some

Of everyche of her aventures,

Be avisions, or be figures,

But that oure flessh ne hath no myght

To understonde hyt aryght, 50

For hyt is warned to derkly;

But why the cause is, noght wote I.

Wel worth 2 of this thynge grete clerkys,

That trete of this, and other werkes;

For I of noon opinioun

Nyl as now make mensyoun;

But oonly that the Holy Roode

Turne us every dreme to goode;

For never sith that I was borne,

Ne no man elles me beforne, 6o

Mette, I trowe stedfastly,

So wonderful a dreme as I,

The tenthe day now of Decembre;

The which, as I kan yow remembre,

I wol yow telle everydele.

The Invocation.

But at my begynnynge, trusteth wele,
1 wol make invocacioun,
With special devocioun
Unto the god of slepe * anoon,

1 Foreknows. 1 Good befall (O. E. wtorikan, to be, become) Somnus. This description is taken from Ovid, Mttamarpkou^ XL 591. Cf. Dttfu of Blavnctu, 1. 137.

That dwelleth in a cave of stoon, 70

Upon a streme that cometh fro Lete,

That is a floode of helle unswete,

Besyde a folke men clepeth Cymerie ;1

There slepeth ay this god unmerie,

With his slepy thousande sones,

That alwey for to slepe hir wone1 is;

That to this god that I of rede,

Prey I, that he wolde me spede,

My swevene for to telle aryght,

Yf every dreme stonde in his myght; 80

And he that mover ys of alle

That is and was, and ever shalle,

So give hem joye that hyt here,

Of alle that they dreme to-yere; *

And for to stonden al in grace

Of her loves, or in what place

That hem were levest for to stonde,

And shelde hem fro poverte and shonde/

And fro unhappe and eche disese,

And send hem alle that may hem plese, 9c

That take hit wele and skorne hit noghte,

Ne hyt mysdeme in her thoght,

Thorgh maliciouse entencioun.

And who-so, thorgh presumpcioun,

Or hate, or skorne, or thorgh envye,

Dispite, or jape, or vilanye,

Mysdeme hyt, pray I Jhesus God,

That dreme he barefote, dreme he shod,

'Cvmmeria. • Wont. • This year. 4 Ruin, diafrac*.

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