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Wher as myn eye may nought serve,
For thus it is that, over all
And eke myn eare hath, over this, A deyntie feste whan so is That I may heare hirselvè speke; For than anon my fast I breke On suche wordes as she saith, That ful of trouth and ful of faith They ben, and of so good disport, That to myn earè great comfort They don, as they that ben delices For all the meates, and all the spices, That any Lombard couthè make, Ne be so lusty for to take, Ne so far forth restauratif, (I say as for myn ownè lif,)
1 Thank. 9 Praise.
As ben the wordès of hir mouth.
And if it so befalle among,
And eke in other wise also, Full oftè time it falleth so, Myn eare with a good pitance Is fedd of reding of romance Of Ydoine and of Amadas, That whilom weren in my cas; And eke of other many a scorè, That loveden long ere I was bore. For whan I of her loves rede, Myn eare with the tale I fede, And with the lust of her histoire Somtime I draw into memoire, How sorrow may not ever last; And so hope cometh in at last.
Was born at a place of that name in Suffolk, about the year 1370. His translation (taken through the medium of Laurence's version) of Boccaccio's Fall of Princes, was begun while Henry VI. was in France, where that king never was, but when he went to be crowned at Paris, in 1432. Lydgate was then above threescore. He was a monk of the Benedictine order, at St. Edmund's Bury, and in 1423 was elected prior of Hatfield Brodhook, but the following year had licence to return to his convent again. His condition, one would imagine, should have supplied him with the necessaries of life, yet he more than once complains to his patron, Humphry, Duke of Gloucester, of his wants; and he shews distinctly in one passage, that he did not dislike a little more wine than his convent allowed him. He was full thirty years of age when Chaucer died, whom he calls his master, and who probably was so in a literal sense. His Fall of Princes is rather a paraphrase than a translation of his original. He disclaims the idea of writing “ a stile briefe and compendious.” A great story he compares to a great oak, which is not to be attacked with a single stroke, but by “ a long processe.”
Gray has pointed out beauties in this writer which had eluded the research, or the taste of former critics. “ I pretend not,” says Gray, “ to set him on a level with Chaucer, but he certainly comes the nearest to him of any contemporary writer I am acquainted with. His choice of expression and the smoothness of his verse, far surpass both Gower and Occleve. He wanted not art in raising the more tender emotions of the mind.” Of these he gives several examples. The finest of these, perhaps, is the following passage, descriptive of maternal agony and tenderness.
Canace, condemned to death by her father Æolus, sends to her
guilty brother Macareus the last testimony of her unhappy passion.
BOOK I, FOLIO 39.
Out of her swoone when she did abbraide,
I hold him strictly twene my armès twein,
On thee and me dependeth the trespace
A mouth he has, but wordis hath he none;
Writing her letter, awhapped all in drede,