Lydgate's Epithalamium for Gloucester

Thorugh gladde aspectes of the god Cupid 
And ful accord of his moder deere, 
Ful oft sithes list aforne provide 
By course eterne of the sterres cleere 
5 Hertes in love to to join in ferre together
Through bond of faith perpetually t' endure. 
By influence of God and of Nature. 
The heven above disposeth many thinges 
Which wit of man can not comprehende 
10 The fatal order of lordes and of kinges 
To make somme in honour highe ascende 
And some also ful lowe to descende 
And in love eke to lacen and constraine 
Hertes t' embrace in Jupiter's chain. 
15 Thus cam in first the knotte of alliaunce 
Between provinces and worthy regions, 
Folkes to sette in peace and accordaunce 
To been all one in theire affecciouns in unity
And to exclude alle divisiouns 
20 Of contekk, strif of bataile, and of werres 
The first cause pourtrayed in the sterres. 
For no man may th' ordainaunce eschue 
Thinges disposed by cours celestial 
Nor destinee to void ne to remue move
25 But only god, that lordshipe al 
For thorough his might moost imperial, 
Th' eternal lord, most discreete and sage, 
He brought in first th' ordre of mariage. 
Ensaumple in books ther ben more than oon one
30 Th' inward pith whoso list to charge pith = essence
Executed is of so yore agoon long ago
Recorde I take of Calydoine and Arge Calydon and Argos
Howe tho landes so brood, so wide, so large those
Were maked oon -- the story list not feigne -- 
35 By mariage, which a-fore were twain.
And in chronicles autentik and olde 
Many a story of antiquitee 
Unto this purpose rehersed is and told, 
How mariages have ground and cause be 
40 Bewteen lands of pees and unitee peace
And here-to-forn, as made is remembraunce, 
The war stint of England and of Fraunce. 
And as I hope of hert and mening true intention
The mortal war cesse shal and fine come to an end
45 Betwene tho bothe and pees againe renew both of them
To make love with cleer beemes shine 
By meene of her that highte Katherine, 
Joined til oon -- his deedes can you tell -- 
Henry the fifte, of knighthood sours and well. 
50 And further-down for to specifye furthermore
Pees and accorde for to multiplye 
The dew of grace distill shall and raine 
In the boundes here of our Brettaine 
To find a way whereby we may attain 
55 That Duchy of Holand by hool affeccioun 
May be allied with Brutus Albioun. 
That they may be oon body and oon hert, 
Rooted on faith, devoid of doublenesse, 
And eek to sen clerly and adverte to take note
60 A newe sonne to shinen of gladnesse 
In bothe londes t' exlcuden al derknesse 
Of old hatred and of al rancoure 
Brought in my meene of oon that is the floure. flower
Thorough-oute the world called of wommanheed, 
65 True ensaumple and well of al goodenesse, 
Benign of port, root of goodlihede, 
Sothfast mirror of beautee and fairnesse -- 
I meene of Holand the goodly fresh duchesse 
Called Jaques, whos birth for to termine specify
70 Is by descent imperial of line. lineage
As Hester meek, and as Judith sage, 
Flowring in youth like to Polixseene; 
Secree, faithful as Dido of Cartage, 
Constant of hert, like Ecuba the queene, 
75 And as Lucresse in love true and cleene; 
Of bountee, fredom, and of gentilnesse 
She may be called well, lady, and maistresss. 
Fair was Heleyne, like as bookes telleth, 
And renommed as of seemlynesse, 
80 But she in goodness far above excelleth; 
To rekken her trouthe and her stedfastnesse, 
Her governaunce, and her highe noblesse, 
That if she shal shrotly be comprehended, 
In her is nothing that might ben amended. 
85 Ther-to she is discreet and wonder sadde grave
In her apport, whoso list take heede; deportment, bearing
Right avisee and wommanly, eek gladde; discreet
And dame Prudence doth ay her bridle leede; lead
Fortune and Grace, and Raisoun eek in deed Reason
90 In all her workes with her ben allied, 
That throughout the world, her name is magnified. 
To the poor she is also ful merciable, 
Ful of pitee and compassioun, 
And of nature list not to be vengeable -- 
95 Though it so be she have occasioun -- 
That I suppose nowe in no regioun 
Was never a better at alle assayes founden, tests
So muche vertu doth in her abounden. 
A heven it is to ben in her presence, 
100 Who list consider her governaunce at al, 
Whos goodely look in verray existence 
So aungelik and so celestial, 
So feminine; and in especial 
Her eyen sayn 'Whoso look weel well
105 Foryiven is oure wrath, every deel.' every bit
And her colurs ben black, white, and rede; 
The red in trouthe tokeneth stablenesse, 
And the black, whoso taketh heede, 
Signifeth parfyt sobernesse; 
110 The white also is token of cleennesse, chastity
And eek her word is in verray sooth 
'Ce bien raysoun' al that ever she dooth. 
And sith she is by descent of blood 
The gretest born oon of hem on live One of the greatest born now living
115 And ther-with-al most vertuous and good, 
The trouth plainly yif I shal descrive recount
Such grace I hope of newe shal arrive 
With her coming through al this lande 
That there shal be a perpetualle bande bond
120 Perfourming up, by knott of mariage, 
With help of God, between this lady bright 
And oon that is soothly of his age 
Thorough al this world oon the best knight 
And best pourveyed of manhood and of might 
125 In pees and werre thorough his excellence, 
And is also of wisdom and prudence 
Most renommed for to rekken al 
From Eest to West, as of highe prowesse; 
In daring do and deedes marcial 
130 He passeth alle thorough his worthynesse, 
That yif I shall the trouthe cleer expresse, 
He hath deserved thorough his knyghtly name 
To be registred in The House of Fame. 
Egally -- ye! -- with the worthy nine, Nine Worthies
135 For with Paris he hath comlynesse; 
In trouth of love with Troilus he doth shine; 
And with Hector he hath eek hardynesse; 
Woth Tideus he hath fredom and gentilnesse; 
Wall of Bretaine, by manly violence 
140 Again her fomen to standen at defence. 
Sloth eschewing, he doth his wit applye 
To reed in bookes which that ben moral; 
In holy writ with the allegorye allegorical meaning
He him deliteth to look in special; 
145 In understonding is none to him egal. equal
Of his estate expert in poetrye, 
With parfounde feeling of Phylosophye. 
With Solomon hath he sapience, 
Fame of Knighthood with Cesar Juius; 
150 Of rhetorik and eek of eloquence 
Equipollent with Marcus Tulius; equal to Cicero
With Hannibal he is victorious, 
Like unto Pompey for his highe renown, 
And to governe egale with Scipioun. 
155 This Martes sone and soothfastly his heir son of Mars
So wold God of his eternal might 
He joined were with her that is so fair, 
The freshe duchesse of whom I speek now right, 
Sith he in hert is her true knight, 
160 For whom he writeth `in good aventure 
Sanz plus vous belle' perpetually t' endure. 
Thanne were this land in ful sikernesse 
Agains th' assaut of our mortal foon; foes
165 Farewell thanne al trouble and hevynesse, 
Yif so were these landes were alle oon, 
And God I pray it may be done anoon; 
Of his might so graciously ordaine 
That pees final were sette between hem twaine. 
And I dare well affirm finally 
170 Thorough-oute this lande, of highe and low degree, 
That alle folkes prayen ful specially 
This thing in haste may executed be, 
And Thou that art oon and two and three 
This gracious werk dispose for the best 
175 For to conclude the fine of theire request. end, purpose
And Ymeneus, thou fortune this mattere Hyme favor, make fortunate 
Thorough help of Juno, next of thine allye, 
Make a knot faithful and entire, 
As whilom was between Philologye 
180 And Mercury eek, so highe above the skye, 
Wher that Clio and Caliope 
Sang with her sustren in noumbre thries three their siste thrice 
And all ye goddes beth of oon accord, 
That have your dwelling above the firmament, 
185 And ye goddesses, devoid of al discord, 
Beth well-willy and also diligent. benevolent
And thou, Fortune, be also of assent 
This needful thing t' execute yerne quickly
Through your power, which that is eterne. 
190 Princess of Bountee, of Freedom emperesse, 
The verray lodesterre of al Goodlyheede, guiding sta goodness 
Lowly I pray unto your highe Noblesse, 
Of my Rudenesse not to taken heed, 
And wher-so it be this bille that ye reed petition
195 Hath mercy ay on min ignoraunce, 
Sith I it made betwix hope and dreed 
Of hoole entent you for til do plesaunce. pleasure
This is the famous Duke Humphrey of Gloucester (1390-1447), founder of the library at Oxford that yet bears his name; the poem was addressed to Jacqueline of Hainault, whom the duke married in 1422. For details, see Eleanor P. Hammond, English Verse Between Chaucer and Surrey. Durham, NC. 1927, pp. 142-45 [Widener 10494.225.5].
The text above is glossed and slightly regularized for beginning readers of Middle English from the edition of Henry N. MacCracken, The Minor Poems of John Lydgate, EETS. London. 1911 [Widener 12432.26.10.5]. A better version is that edited from Cambridge, Trinity College MS R 3 20, ff. 158-64, by Eleanor P. Hammond, English Verse Between Chaucer and Surrey.