The Tale of Phoebus and the Crow

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 III, 783-817











Mi Sone, be thou war ther by, 
And hold thi tunge stille clos: 
For who that hath his word desclos 
Er that he wite what he mene, 
He is fulofte nyh his tene
And lest ful many time grace,
Wher that he wolde his thonk pourchace. 
And over this, my Sone diere, 
Of othre men, if thou miht hiere 
In privete what thei have wroght, 
Hold conseil and descoevere it noght, 
For Cheste can no conseil hele,
Or be it wo or be it wele: 
And tak a tale into thi mynde, 
The which of olde ensample I finde. 

Phebus, which makth the daies lihte, 
A love he hadde, which tho hihte 
Cornide, whom aboven alle 
He pleseth: bot what schal befalle 
Of love ther is noman knoweth, 
Bot as fortune hire happes throweth. 
So it befell upon a chaunce, 
A yong kniht tok hire aqueintance 
And hadde of hire al that he wolde: 
Bot a fals bridd, which sche hath holde 
And kept in chambre of pure yowthe, 
Discoevereth all that evere he cowthe. 

This briddes name was as tho 
Corvus, the which was thanne also 
Welmore whyt than eny Swan, 
And he that schrewe al that he can
Of his ladi to Phebus seide; 
And he for wraththe his swerd outbreide,
With which Cornide anon he slowh. 
Bot after him was wo ynowh, 
And tok a full gret repentance, 
Wherof in tokne and remembrance 
Of hem whiche usen wicke speche, 
Upon this bridd he tok this wreche, 
That ther he was snow whyt tofore, 
Evere afterward colblak therfore 
He was transformed, as it scheweth, 
And many a man yit him beschreweth, 
And clepen him into this day 
A Raven, be whom yit men mai 
Take evidence, whan he crieth, 
That som mishapp it signefieth. 

Be war therfore and sei the beste, 
If thou wolt be thiself in reste, 
Mi goode Sone, as I the rede. 


contentiousness conceal 


pulled out 


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