Guillaume Lorris and Jean de Meun (le Clopinel) The Romance of the Rose (13th Cent.)
The Duenna's Speech on Women and Love
P. 202 18550
P. 217 14010
P. 224 14230
P. 230 14420
P. 241 14760
P. 247 14950
P. 253 15140
Fair-Welcome, dear, no cherubim Is fair, and sweet, and good as you. My joyous days are all worn through, While yours are barely yet begun, Your woof of life as yet unspun. Alas! my strength is on the wane, And needs must I my limbs sustain Ere long on helpful crutch or staff, While you with joy-brimmed heart may laugh Careless of what your fate may be. Yet must you pass, assuredly, Sooner or later, through the fire, Which all men feel of love's desire, And in that wave must plunge you, which Queen Venus dights for poor and rich. Prepare you, then, belovèd one, Ere over you love's waters run, By these wise counsellings I give; For he doth perilously live
Who breasts love's waves, yet knows them not, But if my creed you once have got By heart, you shall arrive at last Safely in port, all dangers past.
Believe me, if, when young as you, I'd known love's art as now I do, And of its ways had been aware (For I, in youth, was passing fair), You would not hear me groan and sigh As I consider mournfully My outworn visage, and repine At every pucker, seam and line, When of my beauty lost I think, Whereof gay lovers fain would drink Long draughts to quench their lovesick heat: (Good Lord! it makes my pulses beat!) For then was I of high renown, Alike in countryside and town, For fairness, and of gallants proud And rich there never lacked a crowd Around my dwelling. Many a score Of blows came rattling 'gainst my door, When I disdained with answering word To let them know their calls were heard, Because it happed forsooth that I Already had good company. Hereout grew oft a wild uproar, And monstrous wroth was I therefor. The porch, 'neath stout and sturdy stroke, Would yield sometimes, and then awoke A fierce mellee, and lives and limbs Were lost to please my wayward whims,
For sharply raged fierce contests then. If learnèd Algus, of all men The wisest in his reckoning, Should his ten wondrous figures bring To bear thereon, I doubt if well By multiplying he could tell The number of the deadly fights Wherein my gallants strove o' nights. Right fair of face was I, and sound Of body, and of sterlings round Had many a thousand, glistering white, But like a dunce my business dight. I was, in truth, a fair young fool, Of no experience in love's school. Nought of love's theory I knew, But learned in its practice grew, And all throughout my life have I Its battles fought unflinchingly. And now to you may I impart The mysteries of that sweet art, For blame were mine should I forego To teach young folk the lore I know. 'Tis no great marvel if love's pleasure You neither know to mete or measure, Since you are but a nestling still, With callow wings and yellow bill; While I so wrought have in the field Of love that unto none I yield In knowledge, but might lightly dare To fill a grave professor's chair. 'Tis but a fool who would despise And mock old age, by time grown wise, For wit and practice there are found, And many who have trod the round Of life have proved, beyond a doubt, Those good, when all is else worn out On which they have their substance spent; Save for that twain their lives were shent. When I had wit through practice won, A thing with no small labour done, Full many a noble man did I Trick and beguile most skilfully But also, often was deceived Ere yet full wit had I achieved. Unhappy wretch! 'twas all too late, Youth failed and left me desolate.
And now beheld I that my door, Which on its hinges heretofore Swung day and night, stood idly to, From hour to hour none passed therethrough, Until I thought: 'Alas! poor soul, Thy life is changed to grief and dole!' When thus I saw my dwelling left Deserted, nigh in twain was cleft My heart, and I betook me thence, Shamed and abashed my every sense. Such misery scarce could I endure, What balsam my deep wounds could cure, When gay-clad gallants in the street, Who lately fawned before my feet, And spent their breath to sing my praise, Now passed me in the public ways Unheedingly, with heads tossed high, As I were struck with leprosy?
They'd pass me by with hop and skip As one not worth an apple pip: And some, to whom I'd favour shown, Now voted me a wrinkled crone. It seemed as each would put on me Some new refined indignity.
Upon the other hand no man, How fine soe'er of feeling, can, Dear friend, believe the woes I felt, Or how mine eyes in tears would melt, When rose the picture in my mind Of old good days when kisses kind Were showered upon me 'mid delights Of joyous days and passioned nights -- Sweet words to sweeter actions wed. Alas! for ever all are fled, Past over to return no more. Far better had a prison door Closed on me than that I were born So soon. Ah God! what scathing scorn Have fair gifts lost brought down on me, And consciousness they ne'er can be Reclaimed hath sent a poisoned dart Of anguish through my wasted heart. I ask again, why was I born So soon? unhappy wretch forlorn! Is there, but you, one single one To whom I can complain, dear son? In no wise could my vengeance reach My foes so well as if I teach To you my doctrine for this end; Thereon my breath I well may spend,
With well-proved precepts how to be A scourge to those who scourged me; And you right apt will be thereto Recalling all I say to you, Since you by happy chance have got So young a mind as faileth not To keep in memory the wit That old experience plants in it. For Plato said, long years agone, That, things which men in youth had known Stay fixed within the memory fast, Though many a year be overpast.
Ah, dearest son, beloved youth, If strong and young as you forsooth I were, the laws by Draco made My fierce revenge should cast in shade: Such vengeance on my foes I'd take, Before I could mine anger slake, As never yet was known ere now In all the world's great age I trow. Those ribalds who have passed me by With mocks and jeers, insultingly, And have disdained my glance to meet, With open scorn in public street, Good Lord! but they should dearly pay Whene'er arrived the reckoning day, For that contemptuous, scathing pride Wherewith they have my spirit tried. For, using the experience I Have learned through God's good clemency. Know you the fashion they should fare? In my turn would I pluck them bare;
And then, as grapes within a press Are trod, I'd tread them; penniless Should they be left, and foul worms feed Upon them in their direful need, Whilst on a dunghill should they lie Naked, in filth and misery. And those who, in my prosperous days, Were foremost in my love and praise, Would I most cruelly entreat, And spurn like dogs beneath my feet, Aye, grind them to the very earth, And pill them till they were not worth A clove of garlic -- it would fain My heart to see their need and pain, And bring them to such dire distress That they should on my footsteps press Stamping with rage.
Regrets are vain; Time flown can ne'er return again, Nor could I, of all those who bowed Before me ere my face was ploughed With wrinkles, keep on one my hold, My menace was a tale that's told, But, by the ribalds, I thereof Was warned erewhile with many a scoff. Believe you, much I wept therefor, Aye, and shall weep for evermore, Yet, when thereon I musing think, Long draughts of joy supreme I drink From memory's well. Oh, dear delights! Whereof the very thought excites A thrill through every limb, as though The merry life of long ago
I lived once more. My body seems Rejuvenate, as in sweet dreams Sometimes appears. Now, by the rood, I swear it does me untold good To muse on youth's sweet joys, though I By men was cozened cruelly: No idle life a damsel leads Who makes her pleasures serve her needs.
Then to this country-side I came, And service took beneath the dame Who holds you here, and gives me charge That hence you wander not at large. The Lord, who guards us all from ill, Grant that my duty I fulfil, And doubt I not this well may be, If you will walk but prudently. The charge, forsooth, were one of rare And special peril, seen how fair Nature hath made you, if your wit Did not your body's beauty fit: But you have prowess, sense, and grace; And since that now both time and place Serve us so well, nor need we fear To suffer from intruders here, 'Tis well that you should list from me Good counsel, but you need not be Surprised to find my words but few. No will have I to press on you The theme of love and thereon preach, But since that goal you'll someday reach,
Suffer that I point out the way And paths thereof, where many a day I wandered ere my beauty went And left me wearied, worn and spent.
Then ceased the dame and gave a sigh, In case Fair-Welcome made reply. But little rest of tongue she took, Noting his fixed attentive look, Prepared to listen and say nought And so within herself she thought: A proverb 'tis: Who saith not nay, May well be credited with yea; Thus far he's listened, and no doubt, If I proceed, will hear me out.
Then once more did the crone begin Her wearisome foul tale to spin, Deeming that she by wordy trick Might cozen me to try and lick Honey from thorns, and hoping he Might his mere friend consider me, Without true love, but he amain Told me the tale he heard again; And had he ta'en her word for truth I needs had been betrayed forsooth, But whatsoever the hag might do Or say, Fair-Welcome proved him true; I had his solemn oath and word And that my heart had reassured.
O dear sweet son, towards whom I yearn, 'Tis my desire that you should learn Love's wiles to save you from deceit. When you upon life's journey meet With Cupid, let my counsels guide Your steps, for no man ever tried That path untaught, but hath perforce Been stripped of all, till last his horse He needs must sell; I charge you hear My counsel which your way will clear, If you but heed the lore I tell, Who know love's art and mystery well.
Herein the harridan prepares Fair-Welcome's mind for love affairs, And shows how evil women may, In love, both go and lead astray.
FAIR son, whoso of love is fain, That bitter-sweet, that pleasant pain, Must Cupid's ten commandments know, Yet keep him at arm's length I trow. All these to you would I declare, Perceived I not how great a share Of each has nature deigned to bless You with, in her sweet kindliness, Yea to the hilt that you can need. Ten are there, but fools only, heed The latter two, wise men dispense Therewith, not valuing them two pence.
The former eight attend You well. But he were under folly's spell Who wasted on the other two His time -- tis what a dolt would do. Too great a burden it is to lay Upon a lover when you say, Though his large heart would all embrace, With one alone must it enlace. The son of Venus counsels this, But sorely will he do amiss Who follows his advice, and dear Shall pay, as will at last appear. In love, fair son, remain you free, Fix not on one especially: Suffer your heart at will to roam, Nor lend nor give it to one home, But let it be your constant boast That, his it is who pays the most, Yet see the buyer doth not get A bargain though his gold you sweat. Above all, give it not away, Better, burn, hang, or drown one may. Remember, when you give, to twist Your fingers fast with folded fist, But taking, open wide your hand, Fools only give, pray understand, Except it be by way of lure, Some fourfold profit to ensure, Or in return fair gift to get Whereby good guerdon one may net; Such gifts as these will I allow, For good it is to give, I trow,
When one can make the gifts bear fruit; Then largess doth with profit suit. Such giving no man need repent, Thereto I freely give consent.
As to that bow of rarest price And shafts of subtle artifice, You know their use and management Better than Love himself who spent His life thereon, no greater craft Hath he the bow to bend, and shaft To speed, than you; though oft you know Nothing of where those shafts may go. For when a shaft at random speeds, Some one of whom the archer heeds No jot, may by mere chance be hit, But you are known to be so fit And skilful when the bow you draw, That scarce you need to list my saw. You may, God helping, chance to wound Some one whose conquest may be found Much to your profit. Need is none That I should lecture you upon The different deckings and attire Which often help a heart to fire, Nor what therein your choice should be. I should discourse but uselessly If you recall that song of old That from my lips hath often rolled, As we together sat alone, Of passionate Pygmalion. You thence of dress much more may learn Than plough-beasts know of sods they turn.
Instruction in the art of dress, Is not, with you, my business.
And if all this doth not suffice You presently shall hear advice, If so you will, where you may find Example of the clearest kind. But would you in the meantime make, Choice of a friend for friendship's sake, Bestow your love, my dearest son, On him who for yourself alone Doth love you, but not recklessly Towards others let affection be With purpose savoured, I will find You many a one with purse well lined. 'Tis well to make some rich man friend, Who feareth not his wealth to spend, For him who knows to spoil and pill. Fair-Welcome well might work his will With such an one; he need but make Believe that he for friend would take None other for a heap of gold, And swear that would he but have sold The chance to some one else to kiss The Rose, that treasury of bliss, In gold and jewels might he swim, But so his heart is true to him, That none but he shall come anear To share the prize he holds so dear. Thousands may bear the same tale spun: 'Fair sir, you are the favoured one,
May God's curse fall on me if I Permit another to come nigh The Rose.'
All reckless may he be Of broken oaths and perjury; Lovers' false oaths the gods amuse, Who all such crimes with smiles excuse. Great Jove and all the Gods loud laughed At lovers' lies the while they quaffed Their nectar, nor did they disdain False oaths their wished-for ends to gain. When Jupiter would reassure Queen Juno, and her doubtings cure, By the dark stream of Styx he sware, Yet proved him perjured then and there. Lovers the same course may pursue, Nor feel one touch of shame thereto, But swear by altar, saints, and fane -- The Gods example gave amain. The Lord forgive me, but none e'er Should credit oaths that lovers swear For young folks' hearts are vain and light, Changing as oft as day and night, And old men's too, for that, pardee Will swear false oaths right royally.
A proverb 'tis, known far and wide, That, who doth o'er the fair preside Should first his own advantage mind; And if one miller will not grind Your corn, forthwith you go elsewhere. The mouse who must perforce repair
To one hole only, needs must be In peril when 'tis his to flee. And so a damsel fair, ywis, When mistress of the field she is, And may at will her suitors fain, Good right hath she their gold to gain, Nay, she would be a fool indeed Who failed her interest to speed Through giving all her love to one. I swear by Saint Lifard of Meun The fool doth all her 'vantage lose Who one from out the crowd doth choose. A captive she consents to be And falleth most deservedly To grief and misery a prey, For that on one she cast away Her heart. If he abandon her, Where shall she find a comforter? For if a woman holdeth fast To one, his love will soon be past, And in the end, poor wretch, she's left Of friends, of goods, of hope, bereft.
This tells how Dido, mighty Queen Of Carthage, racked with sorrow keen For that great love she suffered through Eneas, with a sword-thrust slew Herself, and how fair Phillis won A cruel death through Demophon.
DIDO, great queen of Carthage, strove Vainly to keep AEneas' love,
Who owed to her whate'er he had, For she received him when the sad City of Troy in flames he fled, And reached her shores to misery wed. His comrades dealt she no small share Of honour, for the love she bare To him, and bade his ships refit, With many a storm, bulged, torn, and split; And in her passion vowed that he Lord of her realm and self should be; In turn, great oaths AEneas swore His heart was hers for evermore, And soul and body would he give To her, and in her love would live.
Alas! small joy her kindness sped; Ere long, the faithless lover fled O'er the bright sea without one word To her, who died whenso she heard His treachery, for she straight withdrew Into her chamber, and pierced through Her loving heart with selfsame sword He erst had borne, her love and lord.
Unhappy Dido, who in mind Still kept her traitorous love unkind, Seized the bright blade, and as she stood Naked, the point with hardihood Thrust 'neath her breasts, twin hills of snow, And fell thereon to end her woe. O grievous sight, O sad to see! Full hard of heart that man must be,
Who could behold, with heart unmoved, How thus her constancy was proved Towards the treacherous man through whom Her joyous life met death's grim doom.
And Phillis fair, who did await Her Demophon, disconsolate, And, for he came not, with a cord Sought death, since false she proved his word.
Of Paris and OEnone hear She, body and soul, forgetting fear, Gave up to him; with what return? Alas! her love he did but spurn. Small letters on the trees he cut To tell her of his flitting; but Her love reflected not his heart He less esteemed it than a tart. These letters were right skilfully Engraven on a poplar tree, And said, till Xanthus sought again His source, he faithful would remain; Alas! though that did ne'er occur, For Helen he deserted her.
Was not Medea, beauteous maid, By Jason treacherously betrayed, Who perjured him, though she, to save His life, both home and honour gave, When the fierce bulls with breath of fire Would work on him destruction dire? She braved the flames with subtle charms, Subdued the beasts and saved from harms
Her lover; then the dragon dread Her song soothed till he slumbered, Nor from that sleep awaked he more Till Jason gained the golden store. And when earth's warriors, wild and fierce, Would fain his heart with swordpoint pierce, Her sorcery and magic skill Did so that host with madness fill That, when amid them Jason threw A stone, no man his fellow knew But all in desperate combat fought Till each from each his death-blow bought, And so the Golden Fleece she wan For that well-loved, but false-heart man. That comfort he might have, forsooth, His father AEson unto youth Restored she, and the sole reward She asked him was, that he would toward Her love return his love again. Alas! fond hope! misplaced and vain. His false heart soon forgot the good She wrought, in loving hardihood, And in the ending set above Her head a new and younger love. Hearing hereof she could not brook Her wretchedness, but madly took Her children, (in her sore distress Blind to a mother's tenderness,) And strangled them, more ruthless she Than stepdames oft have proved to be.
A thousand more such tales could I Relate, but time too swift doth fly.
These ribalds all play double parts, And to a thousand give their hearts. And wherefore should not women do The same, and love as freely too She's but a fool, who fixes on One man, and clings to him alone. A woman should have hosts of friends, And play them all, to serve her ends, 'Gainst one another. If no grace She hath, 'tis well she set her face To gain it, and should be most high And haughty unto those who try To please her best, and towards those be Most kind, who treat her distantly.
Fair sports and songs 'tis hers to know, And strife and reprimands forego. If she be plain, by dainty dress. Should she repair ill-favouredness And should it hap, to her dismay, Her thick blond tresses fall away, Or even though they have not dropped By nature, they have needs been cropped By reason of some malady, And thus her beauty wasted be; Or if some ribald, anger led, Hath torn the hair from off her bead, With rage so cruel as to leave No locks she can in braidings weave; Then, with a view to clothe her pate, Hair must she get of one who late Hath died, or yellow silk must tie Beneath neat fillets skilfully.
Above her ears she'll bear such horns As neither stags or unicorns Could boast if they should dare to plight Themselves with her in deadly fight. Or if she have the need to dye Her hair, she should most carefully Choose the right plants; leaves, bark, and root, Will each the varied purpose suit.
And lest her bloom of cheek grow pale, Whereat her spirit well might fail, She should within her chamber keep Sweet unguents, that she thence may reap A secret freshness; yet have care They are not known by sight or flair To lovers, or 'twould breed despite. If she hath neck and bosom white, Then let her cut her bodice low, Her fair and dazzling skin to show, Two palms behind and eke before, There's no device attracts men more. If she hath shoulders set too high Judges of form to satisfy At balls and routs, fine lawn I guess Would lessen their unseemliness. If hands she hath nor fine nor fair, But corned and blistered here and there, 'Twere well, that with a bodkin she Should dress and tend them carefully, Or better still, with gloves should hide Defects -- no man need pry inside. And if her breasts too ample grow, A swathe-cloth should she bind below
To bear them up, and hold them tight Against her chest. When thus she's dight She'll find that she can move with ease, And lightly dance, if so she please.
And, if a dainty, well-bred quean Her Venus chamber keeps she clean; No spider webs will there be found, And things unseemly from the ground She'll sweep, dust, burn, and clear away, E'en as a thrifty housewife may. Is her leg ugly? ne'er 'tis bare. Too large her foot? 'tis shod with care. More wily she than e'er neglect To hide with skill the least defect. If she be cursed with noisome breath, It doth not worry her to death, But heed she taketh not to speak To any till her fast she break, And careful is her mouth ne'er goes Too closely towards her lover's nose. When laughter doth provoke her, so She laughs that two sweet dimples show About her mouth, on either side, The which she never opes right wide In laughing, but conceals beneath A well-set smile, her doubtful teeth. A woman if she laugh or smile Should keep her mouth close shut the while, For if too wide she open it It looks is though her cheeks were slit; And if her teeth are nothing grand, But crossed and out of order stand,
'Tis just as well that they remain Fast hid, would she not win disdain. Women should learn to cry with grace, But they so oft find time and place For tears, I need not teach them how To weep, that soon enough they trow, For every woman in her eye Stores tears, and one and all can cry At will. A man should not disturb Himself thereat, but check and curb His pity, even though he sees The tears fall fast as rain from trees. When women cry at will, 'tis not That they some cruel grief have got, But mere vexation and chagrin That some vile trick they're baffled in. A woman's tears are but a trap, Oft-times they flow for no ill hap, But with desire that she may nought By word or deed betray her thought.
She should behave her when at table In manner fit and convenable; But should, ere yet she takes her place, 'Fore all the household show her face, To let those present understand That she much business hath in hand. Hither and thither should she flit And be the last of all to sit, Making the company await While scanneth she each dish and plate; And when at last down sitteth she, On each and all her eye should be.
Before the guests should she divide The bread and see each one supplied. Then let her know the heart to win Of some one guest by putting in His platter dainty morsels, or A wing or leg of fowl before Him sets she, with choicest slice, Of pork or beef will she entice His appetite, or savory fish, If of the day that be the dish. No stint she makes, if he permits, To ply his taste with choicest bits.
'Tis well she take especial care That in the sauce her fingers ne'er She dip beyond the joint, nor soil Her lips with garlick, sops, or oil, Nor heap up gobbets and the charge Her mouth with pieces overlarge, And only with the finger point Should touch the bit she'd fain anoint With sauce white, yellow, brown or green, And lift it towards her mouth between Finger and thumb with care and skill, That she no sauce or morsel spill About her breast-cloth.
Then her cup She should so gracefully lift up Towards her mouth that not a gout By any chance doth fall about Her vesture, or for glutton rude, By such unseemly habitude,
Might she be deemed.
Nor should she set Drink neatly and Moderately Lips to her cup while food is yet Within her mouth. And first should she Her upper lip wipe delicately, Lest, having drunk, a grease-formed groat Were seen upon the wine to float. She should not take one long-breathed draught, Whether from cup or hanap quaffed, But gently taste with sipping soft Now and again, but not too oft, Though thirst impels, at large should drink, Lest those around perchance should think Or say, if she the cup should clutch With eager haste: She drinks too much; Therefore should she the tempting tide Resist, nor grip the goblet's side Like some of that fat matron crew, So gluttonous and boorish, who Pour wine adown their cavernous throats Enough to fill a horseman's boots, Till lastly are their gullets full, And all their senses drowned and dull. She should avoid all such excess As leadeth on to drunkenness, For drunken folk no secrets keep, And if a woman drinketh deep She leaves herself without defence, And jangles much with little sense. To any man she falls a prey When thus her wits she casts away.
She should not at the table close Her eyes in sleep, nor even doze, For many a strange untoward thing Hath happed to dames thus slumbering Such places are not made for sleep, Tis wiser far good watch to keep, For often folk mishaps have known Thus sleeping: many have tumbled down Supine, or prone, or on the side, And grievous hurt sustained, or died: She should, who feels disposed to wink, Of Palinurus' ending think, Who governed well AEneas' helm Until he fell within the realm Of Morpheus, then straight toppled he From off the ship, and in the sea Was drowned before his comrades' eyes, Who mourned his watery obsequies.
Woman should gather roses ere Time's ceaseless foot o'ertaketh her, For if too long she make delay, Her chance of love may pass away, And well it is she seek it while Health, strength, and youth around her smile. To pluck the fruits of love in youth Is each wise woman's rule forsooth, For when age creepeth o'er us, hence Go also the sweet joys of sense, And ill doth she her days employ Who lets life pass without love's joy. And if my counsel she despise, Not knowing how 'tis just and wise,
Too late, alas! will she repent When age is come, and beauty spent. But witful women will believe My words, and thankfully receive My counsels and my rules will foster With care, and many a paternoster Say for my soul's health when I die For teaching them so worthily. Well know I that these golden rules Shall long be taught in noblest schools. Fair son, if long you see earth's light, Most clearly I perceive you'll write My laws and precepts in a book, And many a time therein will look, Please God, when hence from me you're gone And, duly pondering thereupon, In knowledge shall outrival me, And, e'en as I, a teacher be, Despite the highest chancellors, In halls, in chambers and boudoirs, In copse, and garden-close and field Or nooks by friendly curtains sealed. And let your scholars learn my lore, In wardrobe-room and threshing-floor, In stables or out-offices, Failing of better spots than these, And there my precepts should be read, When you their force have mastered.
Abroad a woman oft should go, For all the less that she doth show Herself, the fewer men will press Around to seek her loveliness,
And sooner she'll be left in lurch. 'Twere well she haunt the minster church, And visitations oft attend, And marriages, and duly wend In high processions; fetes and plays Should she frequent on holidays, For in such places, rathe and late, Venus and Cupid celebrate High mass. But erst should she in glass, Upon her tiring, judgment pass, And when she deems it quite the thing Should sally forth philandering, With dignified and high regard, Not over meek, nor yet too hard, Pleasant of look, with modest eye, Nor over-forward, nor too shy. Her shoulders and her hips should move So gracefully that all approve Her progress as of beauty's queen. Upon her well-shaped feet I ween, Most carefully-made boots she'll set, Whereof the joints so well are met, That, not a plait or crease will show, But on her legs they'd seem to grow; And if her costly garment trail Along the road, she will not fail Both fore and aft with studied care To raise it, as she'd catch the air, Or, as she knows right well to do, She just uplifts her gown a few Short inches, quicker pace to suit, Disclosing thus her winsome foot,
With hope that all the passers by Its mignon form and turn may spy.
In case she doth a mantle wear, She should upon her shoulders bear It so, that it but little hides The contour of her shapely sides. And also that she better may Her body's shape, and clothes, display, (Which neither thick nor thin should be, But pearled, and broidered gallantly With silver, and an alms-purse tied, In view of all, against her side,) Her mantle upwards towards her head Should she with straightened arms outspread, Whether the way be foul or clean, After the fashion she has seen A peacock spread his tail; she may So sport the mantle, whether grey Or green it chance to be, that thus She shows her figure amorous To all the gallants that she meets As sails she through the crowded streets.
Should Nature have forgot to trace The line of beauty in her face, Her golden locks she will, if wise, Display to dazzle suitors' eyes In comely plaits about her neck. Nothing doth women better deck And crown, than glory of the hair.
Women should imitate with care
The tactics of the wolf; when she A sheep would seize with certainty, That she of one may make her sure A hundred must her fangs endure. A woman, likewise, should her net So spread as many a man to get Within her toils; but seen she nought Can tell which 'tis that may be caught, With view at very least to fix One man, on all should play her tricks. It scarce can happen otherwise, But that among the fools she tries By thousands, she must find some one To do all that she would have done. Nay, many, for 'tis truly said Art lends to nature potent aid.
And if she several hooketh in, Who equally her grace would win, Most carefully should she arrange The meeting hours to interchange, For if two happed to come together, Good chance there were of stormy weather, And danger is, they seeing through Her scheme, she fail of both the two, Shamed and abased, and what e'en worse She'd count, lose hold on each one's purse. But not to any should she give The chance to keep enough to live, But unto such condition bring Her lovers, that of everything Stripped bare, they'd have no choice but die In hunger, debt, and misery.
Of every penny let her reive them, For 'tis her loss if aught she leave them. From poor and needy men should she Have special care to keep her free; Ovid or Homer void of cash Would not be worth a cat's eyelash.
A traveller should she never give Her heart to, for as he doth live Now here, now there, e'en so will he Afection shift as easily As he his body doth. If wise My counsel will she so far prize As let no guest her fancy take, But if, while sojourning, he make Of jewels, gold, or gems fair offer, Let her secure them, locked in coffer, And then may she fulfil his pleasure, Whether in haste or at her leisure. Above all else should she beware She set her love on that man ne'er Who in his beauty taketh pride; Such imbeciles the Gods deride And scorn, for thus saith Ptolemy, A master of all science he: "Such man hath nought of love in him, With selfish pride his heart's abrim, The love that he to one declares, In turn he to another swears, And many a woman treateth ill, For all he meets he'll spoil and pill:" And many a damsel have I heard Cry shame on such an one's false word.
Should some loud promiser appear, Whether a trickster or sincere, And seek to gain her love with great And solemn vows his life and fate To link with hers, -- so be it; but Let her be wary not to put Herself within his power, unless He doth a well-filled purse possess. And if love-letters one indite, Let her weigh closely if he write With false intention, for if his mood Of heart be honest, pure, and good Then let her forward a reply -- After a pause -- coy, short, and shy; Delay but brings a lover on Yet that were lightly overdone, And when a lover's suit is pressed, 'Tis wise that she awhile protest Reluctance, not the whole refuse. But coyly smirk and half excuse, Now hold him off, now draw him near, In balance kept 'twixt hope and fear.
As he more vehement doth grow, More hesitation should she show, Seeing that she hire heart doth hold Tightly as in a serpent's fold, Resisting by all means she can, Assured reluctance doth but fan His flame, then by degrees her fear Subsides, and she should soothe and cheer His heart with many a tender word, And so they come to sweet accord.
And then will she his heart beguile, By God and all the saints the while Swearing that only he at last Hath all her scruples overpast, And cries: "Fulfilled is now your hope, But, by the faith I owe the Pope, I yield to you for love alone, Through presents had you never won My virgin heart; the man lives not Who e'er through gifts my love had got, You only have full favour found Of all the host that fluttered round. Ah! wicked one, who knew to pitch The note that might my soul bewitch." And then, the dotard to deceive, Sweet clips and kisses should she give. But, if she follows my advice, She boldly will demand her price, And is a fool unless she win All that he hath outside his skin, For she the best beloved will be Who strips a man most ruthlessly. The more that women make men pay, The more, far more, beloved are they For that which lightly is obtained, Is never looked upon when gained Above the value of a straw, A thing of nought, a mere gewgaw. But if a worthless thing cost much, That a man holds with hardfist clutch.
To fleece a gull may many aid: Her valets, and her chambermaid,
Her sister, nurse, and many another, And e'en with equal zest her mother Will need anointing in the palms To quiet conscientious qualms; Robes, mantles, gloves, and such delights, They'll pounce upon like ravening kites. When once the victim's in their grip, With utter ruthlessness they'll strip Their prey, till scarce doth he possess A rag to hide his nakedness.' Jewels and gold he'll give as though Nuts were they off a hazel bough. Soon comes the banquet to an end, When many mouths assistance lend, And then they cry aloud: "Good sir, 'Twere well you should your purse-strings stir To give our lady something new Of vesture; doth it trouble you So little? By St. Giles, I know One who for her would quickly show His bounty, she through him, I ween, Might drive her carriage like a queen And to the damsel would they say: "Wherefore then make you such delay To ask more gifts? Why not more bold? His love to you grows slack and cold." And she, though with their words content, Should bid that they such speech forewent, Vowing she hath no fault to find, Unless 'tis that he's overkind. But if she note that he's aware That ruin in his face doth stare,
And soon must he to beggary fall Since in her lap he's cast his all, She judges she may spare the task More costly gifts from him to ask; Yet should implore him as her friend That to relieve her needs he'll lend His credit, and on given day Swear that the whole will she repay. But all return would be by me Forbidden most unflinchingly.
Then if among her friends she find A second suited to her mind (For though she many a friend hath got She keeps herself heart-whole I wot), To him should she declare amain That she her best gown hath been fain To leave in pawn, alas, for her! While daily to the usurer Must she resort, whereat is she Distressed and troubled grievously, And nought need he expect increase Of favour, but if he release Her pledges. If 'neath folly's curse He lies, and bears a brimming purse, He'll dip his hand therein, or take Some means to borrow for her sake The sum she needs, which is in truth No sum whate'er, since she forsooth Hath got her best robes locked away Secure from dust and light of day, Yet impudently bids him look On every perch, and search each nook
If he to trust her word disdain, And so she gets the gold amain. For a last squeezing she demands A silver girdle at his hands. Or wimple fair, to deck her head, And gold her follies to bestead. If he, unable to supply Such things, yet seeks to satisfy Her cravings, by expressing sorrow And bezants vows to bring to-morrow, To all his promises should she Her ears shut fast inexorably.
All men are naturally liars -- In dear days past vile flatterers More oaths towards me have used to leaven Their lies, than are there saints in heaven. If no gold pieces he can spin, At least can he some wine send in On credit, or if not, he may Take himself off, elsewhere to play.
Unless a woman's void of sense, Of shrinking fear she'll make pretence, Affect to tremble, shake and shiver, And 'neath quick apprehensions quiver When she receiveth furtively Her friend, and let him plainly see The dangers she for him doth dare, Saying, were spouse and friends aware Of that she doth, most surely they Surprising them, would make her pay With life the fond affection she Bears towards him, while alas! that he
If found there would beyond all doubt Still living see her heart torn out: And then he surely will remain When once within her toils he's ta'en.
'Tis well she should remember when Her friend she may expect again; And if there's no one on the watch Let her undo the window latch (Although the door serves better far), Swearing the while that lost they are, And may account themselves as dead Should they be thus discovered, For neither buckler, club, nor glaive For one short hour their lives could save, Nor secret chambers guarantee But what they should dismembered be.
And then should she assume an air Of anger mingled with despair. And fall on him with great disdain, Demanding why doth he remain So long away -- she doubteth not The reason is that he hath got Some other he prefers to her; Younger perchance, and merrier, To whom, forsooth, his time he gives, While she, alas! neglected lives: Ah! well may she with anguish burn Who loves, but wins not love's return. And when he hears her thus complain 'Twill work like fire within his brain,
And forthwith will he deem that she. Loves him with mad intensity, And is of him as jealous as In olden days God Vulcan was Of Venus, Whom he found at play With Mars, when Phoebus brought the day,; [Trapped in the brazen net he'd wrought. On his own head contempt he brought When thus he proved himself betrayed, And openwise a cuckold made.
How Vulcan once espied his wife Engaged with Mars in amorous strife, When cunningly he threw a snare Around the fond but guilty pair.
WHENE'ER Dan Vulcan, dunderhead, Had spied the amorous twain in bed, Around the couch a net he threw (Which was a foolish thing to do; For little wotteth he of life Who thinks he only hath his wife), And then the gods did he convoke Who crowded round with gibe and joke, Beholding how the pair were ta'en. But many 'mong the host, with pain, Beheld dame Venus' sore distress, While marvelling at her loveliness Nor heard unmoved her bitter cries At suffering such indignities
Before her peers in open day. Yet 'twas no marvel, one would say, That Venus unto Mars should give Herself -- for could she care to live With Vulcan, black from head to foot, Hands, face, and throat begrimed with soot? Such things in Venus' breast must rouse Disgust, though Vulcan were her spouse. Nay, even though she had been paired With Absalom the golden-haired, Or lovely Paris, Priam's son, She scarce had been content with one, For ever would that beauteous queen Do what all women love I ween.
Women as free as men are born It is the law alone hath torn Their charter, and that freedom riven From out their hands by Nature given. For Nature is not such a fool As order, by unbending rule, Margot to keep to Robichon, Nor yet for him the only one To be Marie or fair Perrette, Jane, Agnes, or sweet Mariette, But as, dear son, I scarce need teach, Made each for all and all for each, And every one for all alike, E'en as the taste and fancy strike. So that (although by marriage law They are assigned like things of straw), To satisfy Dame Nature's call, To which they hearken one and all,
And strifes and murders to avoid, Whereto they well might be decoyed, Ever have women, foul or fair, Whether the name of maid they bear, Or wife, done all within their power To win back freedom as their dower Though at great hazards they maintain Their rights, and evils thick as rain Have happed both now and formerly. Ten, nay, a hundred easily, Could I of instances set forth But let them pass as nowise worth My pains to tell or yours to hear, You'd weary ere the end came near.
If any man beheld a dame, In primal days, who lit a flame Within his heart, he thought no wrong To seize her, until one more strong Should rob him of her, or he changed His mind and somewhat further ranged. But hence arose contention great, And homes were oft left desolate; And so by wise men were laid down The laws as those of marriage known.
If you possess both will and wit To heark what Roman Horace writ, Give me your ear while I set forth The wisdom of that man of worth A woman, free of shame, may quote Whate'er so great an author wrote:
Fore time, in Helen's days, broke out Full many a hard-fought battle rout For woman's love, and many died Who in that strife their valiance tried And who shall say how many more Than those set down in ancient lore? Not first was Helen, nor will she Be last of those, unhappily, Through whom have risen and will rise Wars among men, whose hearts and eyes Women have blinded, till away They throw their lives; the latest day Of earth shall see this selfsame thing, That hath been since first broke the spring. Regard dame Nature, and then hear Her strength and wondrous power made clear Through many examples which shall be Clearly expounded presently.
Herein examples may you see Of Nature's power and subtlety.
THE bird which from the wood is lured, Captured, and in gay cage immured, Tended with gentle love and care, And fed with choice and dainty fare, With pleasant song our ear enchants, But yet one thing doth lack, it pants Once more to flit among the boughs And branches which so well it knows And where 'twould once more gladly be. In vain you nurse it tenderly,
Ever it pineth to regain That liberty whereof 'tis fain Its food it treads beneath its feet, And 'gainst the bars its wings doth beat, And up and down its prison goes From daylight's dawn till twilight's close, Seeking its passage to make good Through door or window to the wood. And every woman doth possess Within her that same restlessness, Whatever her condition be, Matron or maid; unceasingly One only thought hath she in mind, Which is, how she may some way find Her ancient liberty to get, Thereon, 'fore all, her heart is set.
And so it is with every wight Who hath him in a cloister pight, For so he feels repentance' pang That almost he for rage would hang Himself, he hath but one desire, Which burneth up his heart like fire; He pants once more for liberty, And vain the struggle findeth he With change of frock to change his bent For worldly pleasure; -- sacrament And holy vows are nought to him.
E'en so a foolish fish doth swim Within a net, whose mouth is wide For entry, but when once inside,
Shuts on him, and for evermore A prisoner stays he, till ashore He's cast to die; but those without Crowd round untroubled by a doubt But what he hath great plenitude Therein of leisure, peace, and food, When they perceive him wheel and turn As if content, and fain would learn How they may likewise live at ease With nought to do except appease Their hunger, and the livelong day They pass in seeking out some way By which they too may enter in And equal life of joyance win: They vex and worry them to get An entry to that envied net, But once within, they must remain, Escape past hope, repentance vain, And they therein their lives must spend Till friendly death brings welcome end.
So each bright youth to servitude Doth go who takes the monkish hood, For neither cowl, nor broad-brimmed hat, Nor cloister gown, can smother that Which Nature in his heart did plant, And, unfulfilled, still leaves a want. He's worse than dead, for all his life Is racked and torn by mental strife, Or else with broken spirit he Plays virtue 'gainst necessity. Dame Nature lieth not, but still His mind with bitter thoughts doth fill
Of freedom lost: Horace this thing Saith well, 'tis worth remembering: "Though any man should seize a fork, To drive dame Nature from her work, Beat her, and chase her out of doors, She'll quick return to pay old scores." What matters it? Do what you will, Each living creature must fulfil Its nature, and although you drive It far, it will return and thrive Nature despiseth violence, And hath of man-made law small sense: And thus finds Venus fair excuse When she from trammels breaketh loose And so it is with dames, I trow, Who chafe beneath the marriage-vow. Nature it is who draws them still Towards freedom, or for good or ill, And she so strong is that in vain Men seek her power to curb and rein.
If one should take, dear son, a cat That ne'er had known of mouse or rat, And feed him up most tenderly With choicest meats, nor let him see By any chance of rat or mouse, Yet if should run across the house Or one or other in his view, Like bolt from bow he'll 'scape from you And snap it up, for Nature 'tis Impelleth him thereto ywis; He'll rather hunt a mouse than sate His maw with morsels delicate,
For 'twixt the twain can never be Treaty of peace and amity.
Or if a new-foaled colt you rear, So that he ne'er beholds a mare Till he becomes a full-grown steed For bit and saddle good at need A jennet comes within his sight, At once he neighs with proud delight, And speedeth madly o'er the field, Unless he needs to rein must yield. Not only black steed seeks a black, But brown, or grey as soon will back, Or roan, or any other strain, Unless he's held by bridle-rein. He troubles not to spy around, But gaily takes them as they're found, And in succession serves them all, If but the chance to him befall. So with a little chestnut mare, Unless she be restrained with care, She'll seek brown, grey, and black in turns E'en as desire within her burns; The first one that her fancy takes, Husband of him she straightway makes. And what of horse and mare, I say, Whether black, brown, or roan, or grey, Is likewise true of bull and cow, And eke of ram and ewe, I trow, For rest assured that each of these Of either sex make free to please And suit themselves, as e'en they may, With spouse at will from day to day.
So is it, by my soul, I swear, Fair son, with every human pair, Although the law doth claim of right To check somewhat the appetite. Somewhat! methinks, a deal too much, For when folk fall within the clutch Of law, it bids that each shall cling To each in every mortal thing, And husband seek his wife alone, And she be his both flesh and bone, And both shall each to other give Themselves, unchanging while they live; Yet each, forsooth, doth long to be From all restraint and bondage free. And those who view this thing with clear Impartial eye will know 'tis fear And shame alone that hold folk back, Who else would tread in Nature's track, And, like the cattle, follow sense: Thereof I've had experience Myself, for I would give away My love to any day by day. And had I not been cowed by shame, Which curbs the will of many a dame, When through the town I marching went (Which none could hinder or prevent), So decked and dizened, all might know The part I played, from outward show, And saw well-liking varlets cast Soft looks upon me as I passed (Good Lord! what tremors through me ran Exchanging glances with a man),
Not one, but all would I embrace, Could I but find fit time and place; Giving to each in turn his due Had I been equal thereunto; And each had will, as I believe, In turn my favours to receive: Prelate or monk except I not, Nor knight, nor canon, sage or sot, Burgess or friar, within my fold All would I take, if not too old. Religion they'd have cast aside, Except they feared to be denied When they should court me. If that they Had only understood my way Of thinking, as of women all, Such fear they ne'er had let befall Their hearts. Each one, had they dared, I trow, had readily declared Their wedlock void, that they to me Might give themselves all utterly, Religion spurning, and despite Of oath or honour, faith or right, Except perchance, 'twere some poor fool, Who ne'er had let his love grow cool For her whose heart he'd gained in youth. Such one would courteously, forsooth, Decline my love and turn to her His well-beloved sweet comforter. But lovers of that sort are rare. By God and Saint Amand I swear, If only opportunity Of time and place were given to me
To talk with such an one on love, If lies or truth his tongue should move And whether he lay or churchman were, Or regular or secular, Cinctured with girdle grey or red, Or hood or hat bedecked his head, He should right soon declare his flame, Whether in me he saw the same To burn, or only deemed a whim I had myself to yield to him. Nature for ever busies her, Desire in all men's hearts to stir, Therefore, dear son, should we be slow Venus and Mars to blame, I trow. And though the Gods in mockery laughed To see the pair by Vulcan's craft Ensnared, yet many a one full fain Had been, could he the place have ta'en Of Mars, in Venus' fond embrace, While Vulcan, mad with his disgrace, Two thousand marks had rather given Than cuckold stand before high heaven. The pair be thus exposed to shame, Reckless of scorn henceforth became, And boldly practised that which they Strove erst to hide from light of day, Shame and decorum cast aside. And then the Gods told far and wide The tale, till all through heaven 'twas known, From mouth to mouth mid laughter thrown. And Vulcan stormed with rage to think The draught he brewed he needs must drink,
Since for his folly nought could he Find balsam, salve, or remedy. Rather than trap the twain, indeed, 'Twere wiser to have given no heed, But silently resolve in mind To be to Venus' failings blind, So long as she towards him behaved With kindness, granting all he craved.
From this, let no man e'er forget That grievous folly 'tis to set A trap whereby a wife may be Convicted of inconstancy; For if she find her thus exposed, The door of virtue feels she closed Behind her, and the unhappy wretch, Whom evil-eyed suspicions stretch Upon the rack, when he hath caught His wife, shall ne'er again know aught Of peace or happiness, but die The prey of cruel Jealousy.
But she, forsooth, doth merely make Pretence of jealousy to wake His anger, and yet cause that he With love may burn more ardently.
And if he parry not the stroke, But saith, her anger to provoke, 'Tis true he hath another friend Then she, with view to gain her end, Should cry: No button doth she care, What is his other love to her?
For knows she all the while that he Thereto entends not seriously. Then in her turn will she, with mind More closely round his heart to wind Her toils, pretend some other is More suited to her taste, ywis, And fain of him would she be quit, Exclaiming: 'Tis but right and fit, Since I am cuckolded by you, That our old love were broken through. Is it surprising if I wish We both should eat from out one dish? And then shall he be vexed above All measure, if so be he love Her fondly, reft his chief delight; For no man feels love's flame burn bright Within his breast, but's racked with dread, Lest horns, perchance, adorn his head.
Then, as if some wild beast gave chase, The chambermaid, with fear-struck face, Runs in, and cries: Alas! we're lost, The master hath this moment crossed The fore-court! When the damsel hears This cry, her face wild terror wears, While she her gallant thrusteth in To some dark cupboard, chest, or bin, Whence, when the proper time arrive, She lets him out, more dead than 'live. And he, who anxiously doth wait Until she comes to liberate Him once again, by dire despair And fear is torn while crouching there.
Then, if it prove some new-lit flame, How to Deal with To whom, incautiously, the dame, Hath given untimely rendezvous, She'll quick determine what to do; And while she keeps the one close hid, The later comer will she bid Welcome in some small chamber near, And grant the grace he seeks of her, But let him know he must away Forthwith, howe'er he beg to stay, And though with rage and grief he cry, Boldly to him will she reply: Hence! hence! delay behoveth not, For I within the house have got My husband and my cousin kin, And were you found by them herein, I swear, by God and Saint Germain, I ne'er should see your face again Another time I'll gladly make You welcome till the morning break, But stay not now, nor hesitate, My presence all those folk await. The house of him she needs must clear, For till he goes she's racked with fear. And then must she return in haste To where the other one doth waste His hour in terror, lest that he Be dragged forth ignominiously; And freeing him from where he's hid, For consolation doth she bid Him welcome to her loving arms, As solace for his past alarms
But, ere permitting all he will, Into his mind doth she instill A sense of what great risks she's run, And fearsome dangers undergone, While she of madness doth accuse Herself, who thus by artful ruse Deceives her husband, e'en while she Doth wrong herself exceedingly.
And, by her father's soul she swears That this adventure which she dares! To pleasure him doth cost too dear, Although, God wot, they've less to fear Within her room than those who go To sport in fields 'neath vines arow, But pleasure all the more 'tis spiced With danger is more highly prized. And whensoever they come to lie Together in their secrecy, 'Tis well that she exclude the light From every casement, lest he might Upon her body spy some spot Or blemish, when right well I wot Forth from her chamber would he go As bolt or arrow shot from bow. [Pass eighteen lines, they nought avail To make, but rather mar the tale.] And should they twixt themselves agree That, opportune 'twould sometimes be For her in turn to make repair To where he dwells, she'll take good care So to arrange that somewhat late She comes, for if she makes him wait
A while, she doth but fan the fire Of anxious unfulfilled desire. The game of love, I scarce need say, But winneth zest by short delay, And little joy the heart doth reap From pleasure it may win good cheap. But when she comes within the house And finds reception amorous, She then should vow, with signs of fear, How that her jealous spouse anear Hath watched her, and she dreads to think What bitter draught she needs must drink, So soon as she again doth come Beneath his tyrant hand at home. But howsoe'er she plain and sigh, Whether she speak the truth or lie, A parlous fear should she dissemble, And, dreading nought, seem all atremble, For this will much the joy enhance Betwixt them of soft dalliance.
But if to him she cannot fare Nor bid him to her home doth dare, So close a watch her jealous spouse Maintains both in and out the house, To free her she must cause to wink His wakeful eves 'neath well-spiced drink, And if he fail to nod 'neath wine, Herbs should she with his drink combine, Or mix with food (but in such wise That nought of danger thence arise), And then shall he so soundly sleep As neither watch nor ward to keep,
And she at leisure may fulfill, Unlet or hindered, all her will. If lackeys hath she, let her heed That this and that one forth she speed While coin, if wisely on them spent, Will greatly help her fond intent. Or if she fears lest they should know Her secret, make them drunk also. Or to her husband may she say: "I feel quite out of health to-day, Some fever, gout, or inward grief, Affecteth me past all belief; Our baths are useless, I must hie Me towards the bagnio presently; A vapour bath alone can give Me ease, if you would have me live." Though for a while the wretch delay Consent, at last she gets her way; For when he hath with sorry face Pondered thereon, with wry grimace He yields though of his shame afraid. Then goes she with her chambermaid, Or else some friendly neighbour, who Knows well what 'tis her will to do, Or some companion hath perchance With whom she carries on love's dance. Then to the bagnio will she speed, Though to the baths she gives small heed, Or else perhaps the bathhouse shuns And to her swain's embraces runs. Unless indeed between them 'twere Agreed that they a bath should share,
For should he knowledge gain that she Comes there, there also will he be. No man a woman can protect Who for herself hath no respect. Yea, e'en was Argus overmatched Though with his hundred eyes he watched, Whereof one moiety he kept Wide open while the other slept, For therefore Mercury was sped By Jove to shear off Argus' head, Fair Io to revenge I trow, Whom he transformed had to a cow. Futile his watch -- a heavy yoke Bears he who meddles with such folk.
But let a woman note this well: Whatever clerks or laymen tell Let her no idle tales believe (Which none but fools as truth receive) Of sorcerers and enchanters dire, Or witches dancing round the fire, E'en though they might surpass the fancy Of Helenus in necromancy And second-sight, nor let her think That she by potions and charmed drink Can draw some lover to her side Who from his faith hath wandered wide.
Ne'er could Medea win again False Jason, he of glance fain; Nor could wise Circe's magic art Control Ulysses' wandering heart.
Most careful should a woman be, Though she a man loves tenderly, Gifts to forbear of value great A pillow soft and delicate, A purse, a handkerchief, or hood, Not costly, though fair made and good, A silken lace, a belt to clasp His waist with inexpensive hasp. Or pretty pocket-knife of steel. Or scarf fine wove, and soft to feel, Such as are made by cloistered nuns. But give not to those holy ones Your love, for women secular In such affairs are safer far. More free are they to do whate'er They fancy, and on hand they bear Their friends or spouses as they please, But costly both are those and these; Yet deem I, should I judge the twain, That nuns cost most with no more gain. But women's gifts will men of sense Receive with doubt and diffidence, For all too often are they nought But traps whereby fond fools are caught; And 'gainst their nature women sin, Who seek by gifts men's love to win.
Largess is better left to men; Women but compass mischief when They give great gifts; I've noticed oft The devil made our hearts too soft. But nought it matters -- few are they Of women who give much away.
The gifts that I have named to you, Fair son, are such as well will do The fools to cozen, cheat, and gull, Of which, good Lord, the world is brimfull. All that is given to you, hold fast, Remembering youth will soon be past, For on us creepeth, day by day, Old age which none can let or stay. Take care to garnish well your purse, For thus may you avoid the curse That surely falls on all folk left In age's cave, of goods bereft. Get wealth, for men of starveling need Are valued not one mustard reed. Alas! poor fool! that I did not Practise what now I preach, God wot!
All the fair gifts that came to me From those who loved me follily, As readily I gave again To men of whom my heart was fain, And gifts have brought me in old age To eat the bread of vassalage; The flight of time ne'er troubled me, And hence, alas! my misery. Of poverty had I no dread, But as time came e'en so it sped, All that I gat I freely spent, 'Twas lightly won and lightly went Yea, by my soul I might have been, If prudent, wealthy as a queen, For many a rich man at my feet Had I, when gentle, young, and sweet,
And held them fast within my snare. By God and St. Thibaud I swear That all I had amassed I gave Unto a false and traitorous knave, Who pleased me above all, though he Put me to shame most cruelly: My love, I many another called, But he 'fore all my heart enthralled Alas! though tender, true, and keen My love, he prized me not a bean. Ah! when to what disgrace I fell! The villain made my life a hell, Entreated me with foul disgrace, And called me strumpet 'fore my face. A woman am I and no more, And woman's judgment-wit is poor. The man who loved me, loved I not, But him who did my features blot With blows, and beat me with his fist, Adored I, and that foul hand kissed. The more he beat me, all the more My heart felt to its very core Fond love of him. So well his peace He made, that soon another lease Of love I gave him, though my back And bosom beat he blue and black With ugly bruises, and no trace Of beauty left he on my face, Till I to him for mercy cried, And then when he repentant sighed (Of loving favours once more fain), The wretch, who held my life amain
Within his power, so deftly spake, That I permitted him to make His peace within my arms, for he The game of love knew perfectly. Ah! villain, traitor, per'jured thief, How fond my love! how keen my grief! I cared to live for him alone, And at his beck had freely gone Across the seas; yea had he sped To London, I had followed. So loved I him, so loved he me, That each shamed each right recklessly, And he in riotous display All that I gave him cast away, In taverns lording it at dice, Deep sunk in every wildest vice, And scorning any craft to learn Whereby he might fair living earn, Nor saw why he thereof should heed While I supplied his wasteful need, And well I knew the means whereby To feed his lawless luxury. For all the world my tenants were, And what I gained with many a care And deep disgrace, I showered on him, While he indulged each caitiff whim. No thought had he to pass the time In aught but riot, vice, and crime, And was of mouth so tender, it Loved not to feel the needful bit. But a drear season dawned at last, The day of light-won gifts was past,
We begged our bread devoid of home, Our goods not worth a hackle-comb. No husband had I ever wed, But hither came as I have said, Torn, worn, and scratched. with many a briar.
Most earnestly do I desire, Fair son, that you should learn of me Wisely to walk and warily, And thus my sad experience May to your youth be shield and fence. For when your Rose is withered quite, And raven locks exchanged for white, Then will you lack the gifts that snow On every side around you now.
The Duenna Teaches the Young Man About Love
Men Fought For Her
She Is Expert in Love
All Is Changed
Now I Am a Duenna
You Are Young; I Shall Instruct You
Give Little; Take Much
Choose a Rich Lover
Jove Laughs at Lovers' Lies
One Lover Not Enough
Tragedy of Dido and AEneas
Phillis and Demophon
OEnone and Paris
Medea and Jason
Many Lover Are Best
Women's Arts to Correct Defects
Concealment of Defects
Of Women's Tears
Do Not Dip Fingers Too Deeply in the Sauce
Do Not Spill Wine
Wipe Upper Lip Before Drinking
Do Not Drink Too Much
A Drunken Woman Is Defenceless
No Dozing at Table
Palinurus, AEneas' Steersman
Youth Is Fleeting
This Teaching Should be Preserved in a Book
Go Out Frequently
Wear Good Shoes
Wear an Elegant Mantle
A Woman's Hair
Spread Your Net Widely
She Should Bankrupt Her Lovers
She Should Beware of Travellers
Make Strangers Pay First
Woman Must Be Wary
The Uses of Coyness
Tell Him You Yielded for Love
But Take All He's Got
Pay Off the Other Women
Demand More Gifts
When He Has No More Make Him Borrow
Venus, Mars, and Vulcan
Women Are Free as Men; Law Enslaved Them
Monogamy Is Not Natural
Law Invents Marriage
The Captive Bird Desires Freedom
Women Desire Their Ancient Freedom
The Netted Fish
The Trapped Cloisterer
Nature Will Triumph
The Cat True to Its Nature
The Horse Is True to Its Nature
So Too Is the Mare
Law Cannot Check Natural Appetite
Fear and Shame
A True Lover
Venus and Mars
Folly of Jealousy
Threats of Cuckoldry
The Lover Tricked
Darkness Conceals Defects
Pretend to Fear the Husband
Dealing With the Jealous Spouse
Jove and Io
Medea and Jason
Circe and Ulysses
Do Not Love Nuns
They Are Too Expensive
Forget Not Old Age
Her True Love a Wretch
Her Lover Beats Her
Yet Retained Her Love
He Wastes Her Money
Reduced to Beggary
Learn from My Experience
From The Romance of the Rose by W. Lorris and J. Clopinel, Englished by F.S, Ellis. London, 1900 [Lamont PQ 1528 A24], Vol 2 (of three); side notes added.