« PreviousContinue »
The glorious ceptre and real magesté,
That had the king Nabugodonosore,
With tonge unnethes may descryved be.
He twyes wan Jerusalem that cité ;
The vessel out of the temple he with him ladde;
At Babiloyne was his sovereyn see,
In which his glorie and his delyt he ladde.
The fairest children of the blood roial
Of Israel he dede gelde anoon,
And made ylk of hem to ben his thral;
Amonges othre Daniel was oon,
That was the wisest child of everychoon,
For he the dremes of the king expouned,
Ther as in Caldeyn was ther clerkes noon
That wiste to what fyn his dremes souned.
This proude king let make a statu of gold,
Sixty cubites long and seven in brede,
Comaunded he to love and have in drede,
Or in a fornays ful of flames rede
He schulde be brent that wolde not obeye.
But never wolde assente to that dede
Danyel ne his felawes tweye.
This king of kinges preu was and elate;
He wende God that sit in magesté
Ne might him nought bireve of his estate.
But sodeynly he left his dignité,
15653-preu was and elate. I have added the conjunction from Tyrwhitt, who reads, proud was and elate.
I-lik a best him semed for to be,
And eet hay as an oxe, and lay ther-oute
In rayn, with wilde bestes walkyd he,
Til certein tyme was i-come aboute.
And lik an eglis fetheres were his heres,
His hondes like a briddes clowes were,
Til God relessed him a certeyn yeres,
And gaf him witte, and thanne with many a tere
He thanked God, and ever he is afere
To doon amys or more to trespace.
And er that tyme he layd was on bere,
He knew wel God was ful of might and grace.
His sone, which that highte Balthazar,
That huld the regne after his fader day,
He by his fader couthe nought be war,
For proud he was of hert and of array ;
And eek an ydolaster was he ay.
His heigh astate assured him in pryde ;
But fortune cast him doun, and ther he lay,
And sodeynly his regne gan divide.
A fest he made unto his lordes alle
Upon a tyme, he made hem blithe be ;
And than his officeres gan he calle,
15662—hondes. The Lansd. MS. reads nayles, which is adopted by Tyrwbitt.
15665— he is afere. The Lansd. MS., which is followed by Tyrwhitt, reads,
and his life in fere
Was he to doon amys. 15669–His sone. This story and the preceding are taken from Daniel, i, 5; the latter only is given in Boccaccio.
“Goth, bringeth forth the vessealx," quod he,
“ The which my fader in his prosperité
Out of the temple of Jerusalem byraft;
And to oure hihe goddis thanke we
Of honours that oure eldres with us laft !"
His wif, his lordes, and his concubines
Ay dronken, whiles her arriont last,
Out of this noble vesseals sondry wynes.
And on a wal this king his yhen cast,
And saugh an hond armles, that wroot fast ;
For fere of which he quook and siked sore.
This hond, that Balthazar made so sore agast,
Wrot, Mane, techel, phares, and no more.
In al the lond magicien was noon
That couthe expounde what this lettre ment.
But Daniel expoundith it anoon,
And sayde, “ King, God to thy fader sent
Glori and honour, regne, tresor, and rent ;
And he was proud, and nothing God ne dredde,
And therfor God gret wreche upon
him sent, And him biraft the regne that he hadde.
· He was out cast of mannes compaignye,
With asses was his habitacioun,
And eete hay in wet and eek in drye,
Til that he knew by grace and by resoun
That God of heven had dominacioun
Over every regne and every creature ;
16686-arriont. This is the reading of the Harl. MS.; it is a word which occurs nowhere else as far as I am aware, but I have not ventured to alter it. The Lansd. MS. reads appetites, which 'Tyrwhitt adopts.
And than had God of him compassioun,
And him restored to his regne and his figure.
“Eke thou that art his sone art proud also, And knowest al this thing so verrayly,
And art rebel to God and art his fo;
Thou dronk eek of his vessel bodily,
Thy wyf eek and thy wenche sinfully
Dronke of the same vessel sondry wynes ;
And heriest false goddes cursedly;
Therfore to the schapen ful gret pyne es.
“ This hond was send fro God, that on the wal
Wrot, Mane, techel, phares, truste me.
Thy regne is doon, thou weyist nought at al;
Divided is thy regne, and it schal be
To Meedes and to Perses geven," quod he.
And thilke same night, the king was slawe,
And Darius occupied his degré,
Though therto neyther had he right ne lawe.
Lordyngs, ensample her-by may ye take,
How that in lordschip is no sikernesse ;
For whan fortune wil a man for-sake,
and his richesse,
And eek his frendes bothe more and lesse.
And what man hath of frendes the fortune,
Mishap wil make hem enemyes, I gesse;
This proverbe is ful sothe and ful comune.
Cenobia, of Palmire the queene,
15719_weyist. This reading is taken from the Lansd. MS. The
Harl. MS. reads wenist.
15733—Cenobia. The story of Zenobia is taken chiefly from Boccaccio's work, De claris mulieribus.
As writen Perciens of hir noblesse,
So worthy was in armes and so keene,
That no wight passed hir in hardynesse,
Ne in lynage, ne in other gentilnesse.
Of the kinges blood of Pers sche is descendid;
I say that sche had not most fairnesse,
But of hir schap sche might not be amendid.
Fro hir childhod I fynde that sche fledde
Office of wommen, and to woode sche went,
And many a wilde hertes blood sche schedde
With arwes brode that sche to hem sent;
Sche was so swyft, that sche anoon hem hent.
And whan that sche was elder, sche wolde kille
Leouns, lebardes, and beres al to-rent,
And in hir armes weld hem at hir wille,
Sche dorste wilde bestes dennes seke,
And renne in the mounteyns al the night,
And slepe under a bussh ; and sche couthe eeke
Wrastil by verray fors and verray might
With eny yong man, were he never so wight.
Ther mighte no thing in bir armes stonde.
Sche kept hir maydenhed from every wight;
To no man deyned hire to be bonde.
But atte last hir frendes han hir maried
To Odenake, prince of that citee,
Al were it so that sche him longe taried.
ye schul understonde how that he
Had suche fantasies as hadde sche.
But natheles, whan thay were knyt in fere,
Thay lyved in joye and in felicité ;