Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. I. Chaucer to Donne
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Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. I. Early Poetry: Chaucer to Donne
 
Alexander and the Robber
By John Gower (1325?–1408)
 
[Confessio Amantis, lib. iii.]

OF him, whom all this erthë dradde,
Whan he the world so overladde
Through werre, as it fortunëd is,
King Alisaundre, I redë this,
How in a marchë, 1 where he lay,        5
It fell parchaunce upon a day
A rover of the see was nome, 2
Which many a man had overcome,
And slain and take her good away.
This pilour, 3 as the bokës say,        10
A famous man in sondry stede
Was of the werkës, whiche he dede.
This prisoner to-fore the kinge
Was brought, and ther upon this thinge
In audience he was accused;        15
And he his dede had nought excused,
And praid the king to done him right,
And said: Sire, if I were of might,
I have an herte liche unto thine,
For if thy power werë mine,        20
My wille is most in speciall
To rifle and geten over all
The largë worldës good about.
But for I lede a pover route 4
And am, as who saith, 5 at mischefe, 6        25
The name of pilour and of thefe
I bere, and thou, which routës grete
Might lede, and takë thy beyete, 7
And dost right as I woldë do,
Thy name is nothing cleped so,        30
But thou art namëd emperour.
Our dedës ben of oon colour,
And in effecte of oon deserte;
But thy richesse and my poverte
They be nought taken evenliche,        35
And netheles he that is riche
This day, to-morwe he may be pover,
And in contrarie also recover
A pover man to grete richesse.
Men sain forthy, let rightwisenesse        40
Be peisëd 8 even in the balaunce.
  The king his hardy contenaunce
Beheld, and herde his wordës wise,
And said unto him in this wise:
Thin answere I have understonde,        45
Whereof my will is, that thou stonde
In my service and stille abide.
And forth withal the samë tide
He hath him terme of life witholde: 9
The more and for he shuld ben holde, 10        50
He made him knight and yaf him lond,
Whiche afterward was of his hond
An orped 11 knight in many a stede,
And gret prowesse of armës dede,
As the croniquës it recorden.        55
 
Note 1. border-land, country. [back]
Note 2. taken. [back]
Note 3. pillager. [back]
Note 4. a poor company. [back]
Note 5. as the phrase is. [back]
Note 6. in ill-luck. [back]
Note 7. advantage, acquisition. [back]
Note 8. poised, weighed. [back]
Note 9. retained for his life-time. [back]
Note 10. and in order that he might be bound to him the more. [back]
Note 11. ‘horped’ in the Harleian MS. It means ‘bold.’ [back]
 
 
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