A Farewell to Love (and Venus' Greeting to Chaucer)

Use the glossary in The Riverside Chaucer for words not glossed in the margins; see also a note on Gower's spellings.

Confessio Amantis, Book VIII, 2814-2970








































Venus, which hield a boiste clos,
And wolde noght I scholde deie,
Tok out mor cold than eny keie 
An oignement, and in such point 
Sche hath my wounded herte enoignt,
My temples and my Reins also.
And forth withal sche tok me tho
A wonder Mirour forto holde, 
In which sche bad me to beholde 
And taken hiede of that I syhe;
Wherinne anon myn hertes yhe
I caste, and sih my colour fade,
Myn yhen dymme and al unglade,
Mi chiekes thinne, and al my face 
With Elde I myhte se deface, 
So riveled and so wo besein
That ther was nothing full ne plein, 
I syh also myn heres hore.
Mi will was tho to se nomore 
Outwith, for ther was no plesance;
And thanne into my remembrance
I drowh myn olde daies passed, 
And as reson it hath compassed, 
I made a liknesse of miselve 
Unto the sondri Monthes twelve, 
Wherof the yeer in his astat 
Is mad, and stant upon debat, 
That lich til other non acordeth. 
For who the times wel recordeth, 
And thanne at Marche if he beginne, 
Whan that the lusti yeer comth inne, 
Til Augst be passed and Septembre, 
The myhty youthe he may remembre 
In which the yeer hath his deduit
Of gras, of lef, of flour, of fruit, 
Of corn and of the wyny grape. 
And afterward the time is schape 
To frost, to Snow, to Wind, to Rein, 
Til eft that Mars be come ayein: 
The Wynter wol no Somer knowe, 
The grene lef is overthrowe, 
The clothed erthe is thanne bare, 
Despuiled is the Somerfare,
That erst was hete is thanne chele. 

And thus thenkende thoghtes fele, 
I was out of mi swoune affraied, 
Wherof I sih my wittes straied,
And gan to clepe hem hom ayein. 
And whan Resoun it herde sein 
That loves rage was aweie, 
He cam to me the rihte weie,
And hath remued the sotie
Of thilke unwise fantasie, 
Wherof that I was wont to pleigne, 
So that of thilke fyri peine 
I was mad sobre and hol ynowh. 

Venus behield me than and lowh,
And axeth, as it were in game, 
What love was. And I for schame 
Ne wiste what I scholde ansuere; 
And natheles I gan to swere 
That be my trouthe I knew him noght; 
So ferr it was out of mi thoght, 
Riht as it hadde nevere be. 
"Mi goode Sone," tho quod sche, 
"Now at this time I lieve it wel,
So goth the fortune of my whiel; 
Forthi mi conseil is thou leve." 

"Ma dame," I seide, "be your leve,
Ye witen wel, and so wot I, 
That I am unbehovely
Your Court fro this day forth to serve: 
And for I may no thonk deserve, 
And also for I am refused, 
I preie you to ben excused. 
And natheles as for the laste, 
Whil that my wittes with me laste, 
Touchende mi confession 
I axe an absolucion 
Of Genius, er that I go."
The Prest anon was redy tho, 
And seide, "Sone, as of thi schrifte 
Thou hast ful pardoun and foryifte;
Foryet it thou, and so wol I." 

"Min holi fader, grant mercy,"
Quod I to him, and to the queene 
I fell on knes upon the grene, 
And tok my leve forto wende. 
Bot sche, that wolde make an ende, 
As therto which I was most able, 
A Peire of Bedes blak as Sable 
Sche tok and heng my necke aboute; 
Upon the gaudes al withoute 
Was write of gold, Por_reposer. 
"Lo," thus sche seide, "John Gower, 
Now thou art ate laste cast, 
This have I for thin ese cast, 
That thou nomore of love sieche. 
Bot my will is that thou besieche 
And preie hierafter for the pes, 
And that thou make a plein reles
To love, which takth litel hiede 
Of olde men upon the nede, 
Whan that the lustes ben aweie: 
Forthi to thee nys bot o weie, 
In which let reson be thi guide; 
For he may sone himself misguide, 
That seth noght the peril tofore. 
Mi Sone, be wel war therfore, 
And kep the sentence of my lore 
And tarie thou mi Court nomore, 
Bot go ther vertu moral duelleth, 
Wher ben thi bokes, as men telleth, 
Whiche of long time thou hast write. 
For this I do thee wel to wite, 
If thou thin hele wolt pourchace,
Thou miht noght make suite and chace, 
Wher that the game is nought pernable;
It were a thing unresonable, 
A man to be so overseie.
Forthi tak hiede of that I seie; 
For in the lawe of my comune
We be noght schape to comune,
Thiself and I, nevere after this. 
Now have y seid al that ther is 
Of love as for thi final ende: 
Adieu, for y mot fro the wende." 

And gret wel Chaucer whan ye mete,
As mi disciple and mi poete: 
For in the floures of his youthe 
In sondri wise, as he wel couthe, 
Of Ditees and of songes glade, 
The whiche he for mi sake made, 
The lond fulfild is overal: 
Wherof to him in special 
Above alle othre I am most holde. 
For thi now in hise daies olde 
Thou schalt him telle this message, 
That he upon his latere age, 
To sette an ende of alle his werk, 
As he which is myn owne clerk, 
Do make his testament of love, 
As thou hast do thi schrifte above, 
So that mi Court it mai recorde.' 

`Madame, I can me wel acorde,' 
Quod I, `to telle as ye me bidde.'
And with that word it so bitidde, 
Out of my sihte al sodeynly, 
Enclosed in a sterred sky, 
Up to the hevene Venus straghte,
And I my rihte weie cawhte, 
Hom fro the wode and forth I wente, 
Wher as with al myn hole entente, 
Thus with mi bedes upon honde
For hem that trewe love fonde 
I thenke bidde whil I lyve
Upon the poynt which I am schryve.

(Venus' greeting to Chaucer was removed in the later revision 
and replaced with these lines: 

Adieu, for y mot fro the wende." 

And with that word al sodeinly, 
Enclosid in a sterred sky, 
Venus, which is the qweene of love, 
Was take in to hire place above, 
More wiste y nought wher sche becam. 
And thus my leve of hire y nam,
And forth with al the same tide 
Hire prest, which wolde nought abide, 
Or be me lief or be me loth, 
Out of my sighte forth he goth, 
And y was left with_outen helpe. 
So wiste I nought wher of to yelpe,
Bot only that y hadde lore 
My time, and was sori ther fore. 
And thus bewhapid in my thought, 
Whan al was turnyd in_to nought, 
I stod amasid for a while,
And in my self y gan to smyle 
Thenkende uppon the bedis blake,
And how they weren me betake,
For that y schulde bidde and preie. 
And whanne y sigh non othre weie
Bot only that y was refusid, 
Unto the lif which y hadde usid 
I thoughte nevere torne ayein: 
And in this wise, soth to seyn, 
Homward a softe pas y wente, 
Wher that with al myn hol entente 
Uppon the point that y am schryve 
I thenke bidde whil y live. 

closed box 


gave me





by your leave



full release, quitclaim

healing, salvation

subject to capture






prayer beads



Text adapted from: The English Works of John Gower, ed. G. C. Macaulay, EETS e.s. 81-82. London. 1900-01.