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 the De Regimine Principum
By Thomas Hoccleve (c. 1368–c. 1426)
 
From the Proem

BUT wele awaye, so is myn hertë wo,
That the honour of English tounge is deed,
Of which I was wonte have counseil and rede.
 
O maister dere and fader reverent,
My maister Chaucer! floure of eloquence,        5
Mirrour of fructuous entendement,
O universal fadir in science,
Allas! that thou thyne excellent prudence
In thy bedde mortel myghtest not bequethë;
What eyled Dethe? allas, why wold he sle the?        10
 
O Dethe, that didest not harmë singulere
In slaughtre of hym, but alle this lond it smerteth;
But natheles yit hast thow no powere
His name to slee; his hye vertu asterteth
Unslayne fro the, whiche ay us lyfly herteth 1        15
With bookës of his ornat endityng,
That is to alle this londe enlumynyng.
 
Hastow 2 nat eek my maistre Gower slayne?
Whos vertu I am insufficient
For to descreyve, I wote wel in certeyne:        20
For to sleen alle this world thow hast y-ment,
But syn oure Lord Christ was obedient
To thee, in feyth I can no better seye,
His creaturës musten thee obeye.
 
From the ‘De Regimine Principum’

Symple is my goste 3 and scars my letterure,
        25
Unto youre excellencë for to write
Myne inward love, and yit in aventure
Wol I me put, thogh I can but lyte;
My derë maister,—God his soulë quyte,—
And fader, Chaucer, fayne wold have me taught,        30
But I was dulle, and lerned lyte or naught.
 
Allas! my worthy maister honorable,
This londes verray tresour and richesse,
Dethe by thy dethe hath harme irreperable
Unto us done: hir vengeable duresse        35
Dispoiled hath this londe of the swetnesse
Of rethoryk, for unto Tullius
Was never man so like amongës us.
 
Also, who was hyër in phylosofye
To Aristotle in our tunge but thow?        40
The steppës of Virgile in poysye
Thou folwedest eke: men wotë well ynow.
That combre-worlde, 4 that the my maister slowe, 5
(Wolde I slayne werë!) dethe was to hastyf
To renne on the, and revë the thy lyf.
*        *        *        *        *
        45
She myght han taryed hir vengeaunce a whyle,
Tyl sum man hadde egal to the be;
Nay, let be that; she wel knew that this yle
May never man forth bringë lik to the,
And hir officë nedys do must she;        50
God bad hire soo, I truste as for the beste,
O maystir, maystir, God thy soulë reste!
 
Note 1. encourages. [back]
Note 2. Hast thou. [back]
Note 3. mind. [back]
Note 4. bane of the world; viz. death. [back]
Note 5. slew. [back]
 
 
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