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
 
Extracts from Falls of Princes: Description of the Golden Age
By John Lydgate (c. 1370–c. 1451)
 
[Book vii.]

RIGHTWISENES chastised al robbours,
By egall balaunce of execucion,
Fraud, falsë mede, 1 put backward fro jurours,
True promes holde, made no delacioun; 2
Forswearing shamed durst enter in no toun,        5
Nor lesingmongers, because Attemperaunce
Had in that world wholy the governaunce.
 
That golden world could lovë God and drede,
All the seven dedes of mercy for to use,
The rich was ready to do almës dede,        10
Who asked harbour, men did him not refuse;
No man of malice would other tho accuse,
Defame his neighbour, because Attemperaunce
Had in that world wholy the governaunce.
 
The true marchant by measure bought and sold,        15
Deceipt was none in the artificer,
Making no balkes, 3 the plough was truely hold,
Abacke stode Idlenes, farre from labourer,
Discrecion marcial 4 at diner and supper,
Content with measure, because Attemperaunce        20
Had in that world wholy the governaunce.
 
Of wast in clothing was that time none excesse;
Men might the lord from his subjectës know;
A difference made twene povertie and richesse,
Twene a princesse and other statës lowe;        25
Of horned beastës no boast was then blowe,
Nor counterfeit feining, because Attemperaunce
Had in that world wholy the governaunce.
 
This golden world long whylë dyd endure,
Was nonë allay in that metall sene,        30
Tyll Saturne ceased, by record of scripture,
Jupiter reygned, put out his father clene,
Chaungëd obrison 5 into silver shene,
Al up so downe, because Attemperaunce
Was set asyde, and loste her governaunce.        35
 
Note 1. bribery. [back]
Note 2. no informers at work. [back]
Note 3. leaving no ridges unfurrowed. [back]
Note 4. soldierlike frugality. [back]
Note 5. virgin gold. [back]
 
 
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