Chaucerian and Other Pieces/Piece14

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[ 295 ]

XIV. A BALADE: WARNING MEN TO BEWARE OF DECEITFUL WOMEN.

Loke wel aboute, ye that lovers be;
Lat nat your lustes lede you to dotage;
Be nat enamoured on al thing that ye see.
Sampson the fort, and Salamon the sage
Deceived were, for al hir gret corage;       5
Men deme hit is right as they see at y;
Bewar therfore; the blinde et many a fly.

I mene, in women, for al hir cheres queinte,
Trust nat to moche; hir trouthë is but geson;
The fairest outward ful wel can they peinte,       10
Hir stedfastnes endureth but a seson;
For they feyn frendlines and worchen treson.
And for they be chaungeáble naturally,
Bewar therfore; the blinde et many a fly.

Though al the world do his besy cure       15
To make women stonde in stablenes,
Hit may nat be, hit is agayn nature;
The world is do whan they lak doublenes;
For they can laughe and love nat; this is expres.
To trust in hem, hit is but fantasy;       20
Bewar therfore; the blind et many a fly.
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What wight on-lyve trusteth in hir cheres
Shal haue at last his guerdon and his mede;
They can shave nerer then rasóurs or sheres;
Al is nat gold that shyneth! Men, take hede;       25
Hir galle is hid under a sugred wede.
Hit is ful hard hir fantasy t'aspy;
Bewar therfore; the blinde et many a fly.

Women, of kinde, have condicions three;
The first is, that they be fulle of deceit;       30
To spinne also hit is hir propertee;
And women have a wonderful conceit,
They wepen ofte, and al is but a sleight,
And whan they list, the tere is in the y;
Bewar therfore; the blinde et many a fly.       35

What thing than eyr is lighter and meveable?
The light, men say, that passeth in a throw;
Al if the light be nat so variable
As is the wind that every wey [can] blow;
And yet, of reson, som men deme and trow       40
Women be lightest of hir company;
Bewar therfore; the blind et many a fly.

In short to say, though al the erth so wan
Were parchëmyn smothe, whyte and scribable,
And the gret see, cleped the occian,       45
Were torned in inke, blakker then is sable,
Ech stik a penne, ech man a scriveyn able,
They coud nat wryte wommannes traitory;
Bewar therfore; the blinde et many a fly.


From Trin. (Trin. Coll. Cam. R. 3. 19), printed in Ed. (ed. 1561); T. (Trin. Coll. O. 9. 38); H. (Harl. 2251). 1. Trin. welle. T. abowte; Trin. about. 2. Trin. leede. 3. Trin. se. 4. T. H. Salamon; Trin. Salomon. 5. T. here (read hir); Trin. H. theyr (and elsewhere). 6. So T.; Trin. H. hit right that they se with. T. eye; Trin. ey; H. ye; (read y). 7. T. ette, alt. to ettyth; Trin. H. eteth (read et, and so elsewhere). 8. H. T. in; Trin. of. Trin. wemen; queynt. 9. Trin. H. hem nat (T. om. hem). Trin. trowth; geason (T. geson). 10. T. fulle; Trin. H. om. Trin. peynt. 12. Trin. feyne. 13. T. be; Trin. ar; H. are. Trin. chaungeabylle. 15-28. So T. H.; Trin. transposes 15-21 and 22-28. 16. Trin. wemen stond; stabylnes. 17. T. H. may; Trin. wolle. 18. Trin. doubylnes. 19. Trin. lawgh; expresse. H. om. nat. 20. H. T. in; Trin. on. Trin. theym.

22. T. yn; Trin. on. Trin. cherys. 24. T. They; Trin. For wemen. 25. Trin. shynyth. 26. Trin. sugryd. 27. T. harde; Trin. H. queynt. Trin. to aspy. 29. T. has the note: Fallere flere nere tria sunt hec in muliere. Trin. thre. 30. T. that; Trin. H. om. 31. T. hyt; Trin. om. T. properte; Trin. propurte. 32. H. haue; T. hath; Trin. om. Trin. conseyte. 33. Trin. H. For they; T. om. For. T. wepyth (read wepen); Trin. wepe. T. H. but; Trin. om. H. a sleight; T. deceyt; Trin. asteyte; Ed. a sleite. 34. Trin. teere; ey. 36-42. In T. only. 37. T. passyth. 38. T. All yff; waryabylle. 39. T. wynde; ys blow (alt. to blowth; read can blow). 40. T. yut; summen. 41. T. ther (for hir). 43. T. schorte; Trin. sothe. Trin. erthe; wanne. 44. Trin. parchemyne; scrybabylle. 45. T. H. that clepyd is; Trin. that callyd ys (read cleped). H. om. the. Trin. occiane. 46. T. yn; Trin. into; H. to. T. H. is; Trin. om. 47. T. H. Eche; Trin. Euery. Trin. yche; abylle. H. scryven; T. Trin. scriuener. 48. T. They cowde not; Trin. Nat cowde then (!). T. wymmenys; Trin. womans; H. wommans. T. treytorye; Trin. H. trechery.