Chaucerian and Other Pieces/Piece13

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[ 291 ]

XIII. BEWARE OF DOUBLENESS.

(Balade made by Lydgate.)

This world is ful of variaunce
In every thing, who taketh hede,
That faith and trust, and al constaunce,
Exyled ben, this is no drede;
And, save only in womanhede,       5
I can [nat] see no sikernesse;
But for al that, yet, as I rede,
Be-war alway of doublenesse.

Also these fresshe somer-floures
Whyte and rede, blewe and grene,       10
Ben sodainly, with winter-shoures,
Mad feinte and fade, withoute wene;
That trust is non, as ye may seen,
In no-thing, nor no stedfastnesse,
Except in women, thus I mene;       15
Yet ay be-war of doublenesse.

The croked mone, this is no tale,
Som whyle is shene and bright of hewe,
And after that ful derk and pale,
And every moneth chaungeth newe;       20
That, who the verray sothe knewe,
Al thing is bilt on brotelnesse,
Save that these women ay be trewe;
Yet ay be-war of doublenesse.

[ 292 ]The lusty fresshe somers day,       25
And Phebus with his bemes clere,
Towardes night, they drawe away,
And no lenger liste appere;
That, in this present lyf now here
Nothing abit in his fairnesse,       30
Save women ay be founde intere
And devoid of doublenesse.

The see eke, with his sterne wawes,
Ech day floweth newe again,
And, by concours of his lawes,       35
The ebbe foloweth, in certain;
After gret drought ther comth a rain,
That farewel here al stabelnesse,
Save that women be hole and plain;
Yet ay be-war of doublenesse.       40

Fortunes wheel goth round aboute
A thousand tymes, day and night:
Whos cours standeth ever in doute
For to transmew; she is so light.
For which adverteth in your sight       45
Th'untrust of worldly fikelnesse,
Save women, which of kindly right
Ne have no tache of doublenesse.

What man may the wind restraine
Or holde a snake by the tail,       50
Or a sliper eel constraine
That it nil voide, withouten fail;
Or who can dryve so a nail
To make sure new-fangelnesse,
Save women, that can gye hir sail       55
To rowe hir boot with doublenesse.

At every haven they can aryve
Wher-as they wote is good passage;
[ 293 ]Of innocence, they can not stryve
With wawes nor no rokkes rage;       60
So happy is hir lodemanage,
With nelde and stoon hir cours to dresse,
That Salamon was not so sage
To find in hem no doublenesse.

Therfor who-so hem accuse       65
Of any double entencioun,
To speke, rowne, other to muse,
To pinche at hir condicioun;
Al is but fals collusioun,
I dar right wel the sothe expresse;       70
They have no better proteccioun
But shroude hem under doublenesse.

So wel fortúned is hir chaunce
The dys to turnen up-so-doun,
With sys and sink they can avaunce,       75
And than, by revolucioun,
They sette a fel conclusioun
Of ambes as, in sothfastnesse;
Though clerkes make mencioun
Hir kind is fret with doublenesse.       80

Sampsoun had experience
That women were ful trewe founde,
Whan Dalida, of innocence,
With sheres gan his heer to rounde;
To speke also of Rosamounde       85
And Cleopatras feithfulnesse,
The stories plainly wil confounde
Men that apeche hir doublenesse.

Sengle thing ne is not preised,
Nor oo-fold is of no renoun;       90
In balaunce whan they be peised,
[ 294 ]For lakke of weght they be bore doun;
And for this cause of just resoun,
These women alle, of rightwisnesse,
Of chois and free eleccioun       95
Most love eschaunge and doublenesse.

Lenvoy.

O ye women, which been enclyned,
By influence of your nature,
To been as pure as gold y-fyned
In your trouth for to endure,       100
Arm your-self in strong armure
Lest men assaile your sikernesse:
Set on your brest, your-self t'assure,
A mighty sheld of doublenesse.


1. From F. (Fairfax 16); collated with Ed. (ed. 1561). Also in A. (Ashmole 59), in which it is much altered; other copies in Ha. (Harl. 7578), and Ad. (Addit. 16165). 2. F. whoo. 6. I supply nat. 9. F. A. these; Ed. that. 12. F. feynt; Ha. Ed. feinte. 13. F. Ed. sene. 18. F. A. Ad. is shene; Ed. ishene. 21. F. A. who so; Ha. Ad. Ed. who. 23. Ad. these; rest om.

28. Ha. Ad. no; F. Ed. non. 29. F. So; rest That. 30. F. abytte; Ed. abieth; Ad. abydeth. 32. In the margin of F. Ad.—Per Antifrasim. 36. F. Ad. Ha. foloweth; Ed. repeats floweth from l. 34. A. Soone affter that comthe thebbe certeyne. 38. F. Ha. farewel al her; Ed. Ad. farewel here al. 48. F. Ad. Ha. haue; Ed. hath. F. tachche; Ed. teche. 51. F. slepur; Ha. sleper; Ed. Ad. slipper. 52. A. nyl; Ad. nil; Ha. wol; F. wil; Ed. will. 53. A. dryve so depe a. 54. Ed. suere. 55, 56. Ad. hir; Ha. F. her; Ed. their.

61. F. happe; Ha. Ed. happy. F. her (= hir); Ed. their. 62. F. nelde; Ed. Ha. nedle. F. Ha. her; Ed. their. 64. F. Ha. hem; Ed. them. 65. F. Wherfor; Ed. Ha. Ad. Therefore. MSS. hem; Ed. them. 67. Ed. rowme (!). 68. F. hyr; Ad. hir; Ha. her; Ed. their. 69. A. Ad. nys (for is). 71. Ed. better; F. bette; Ha. Ad. bet. 72. MSS. hem; Ed. them. 73. Ad. Ed. their. 74. F. Ed. turne; Ad. Ha. turnen. 78. F. Ambes ase; Ad. Ha. aumbes as; Ed. lombes, as (!) 82. F. weren; Ed. A. were. MSS. founde; Ed. ifound. 84. A. heres; Ad. here; Ed. heere; F. hede. 87. F. Ad. Ed. The; A. Hir. 88. MSS. hir, her; Ed. their. 90. F. oo folde; A. oone folde; Ed. ofolde.

92. F. A. Ad. weght; Ha. wight; Ed. waighte. A. borne. 96. A. Ad. Haue stuffed hem with doublenesse. 97. A. that (for which). 100. A. In alle youre touches for. Ad. trouthe for tendure. 101. For Arm read Armeth? 102. Ha. assaye. 103. F. A. Ad. tassure; Ed. Ha. to assure. 104. F. Ed. shelde; A. sheelde.