Jean de Meung
The Romance of the Rose (Le Roman de la Rose)
Part I: Chapters XXXIII-XXXV - Reason’s Discourse
Translated by A. S. Kline © Copyright 2019 All Rights Reserved.
This work may be freely reproduced, stored, and transmitted, electronically or otherwise, for any non-commercial purpose.
- Chapter XXXIII: The Lover speaks of Hope.
- Chapter XXXIII: He considers his situation.
- Chapter XXXIII: He remembers the God of Love’s promise.
- Chapter XXXIV: Reason descends again from her tower.
- Chapter XXXIV: Reason’s description of Love.
- Chapter XXXIV: Reason on Youth and Age.
- Chapter XXXIV: Reason scorns mere carnal pleasure.
- Chapter XXXIV: Reason speaks of Friendship.
- Chapter XXXV: Reason speaks of aid between friends.
- Chapter XXXV: Reason speaks of false love, for gain.
- Chapter XXXV: Reason on Fortune.
- Chapter XXXV: Reason on Wealth.
- Chapter XXXV: Reason on Covetousness.
- Chapter XXXV: Reason on wealthy monarchs.
- Chapter XXXV: Reason on true possessions.
- Chapter XXXV: Reason on true Love.
- Chapter XXXV: Reason on Justice.
Jean de Meung (c1240-c1305) wrote this long continuation (dated to between 1268 and 1285 by internal references) of the original Roman de la Rose. Jean claimed that the original work had been conceived by Guillaume de Lorris (c1200?-c1240?) some forty years earlier. Guillaume had penned a development of the courtly love poem, allegorical in content, to act as an ‘Art of Love’ (Ovid) for his own age. Jean’s continuation is an encyclopaedic moral commentary on his world, the seeds of which lie in Guillaume’s work, but whose content and style of delivery is Jean’s own. Jean appears to have excised the last eighty lines of Guillaume’s work (see my previous translation) in order to commence his own from that point. This translation reflects that assumption, but begins from Chapter XXXIII to provide continuity with Guillaume’s original.
Chapter XXXIII: The Lover speaks of Hope
Guillaume de Lorris having died,
His fair Romance is laid aside,
But after more than forty years
Master Jean de Meung appears;
He doth continue it, and thence
Pens the work we now commence.
DESPAIR, alas? I’ll ne’er do so,
No, I’ll despair not, for I know
That if Hope proves of no avail,
Tis but courage in me doth fail.
I’ll take strength from the thought
That, to better my ills, Love taught
That Hope would be my surety,
And she would ever go with me.
Yet what must I do in this affair?
Though she’s courteous and debonair,
She doth prove certain in naught,
So lovers’ lives are but fraught;
She, as their lady, their mistress,
With promises doth oft distress.
For often she doth promise them,
Yet doth break her promise then.
God love me, there is the danger,
For in such torment many a lover
She doth keep, and will maintain,
Who their love shall ne’er attain.
None knows on what they can depend,
For none knows how all this may end.
Mere fools endure her despotism;
If she constructs some syllogism,
Men must fear, in their confusion,
She will draw the wrong conclusion;
For, she will, as we oft do see,
Deceive full many, utterly;
Yet her wish she doth not hide
That whoever takes her side
Shall have the best of the dispute;
I’d be mad not to follow suit.
Yet what’s a wish worth to me
If it doth not end my misery?
Too little, for she’s no help in this
Except in the forging of a promise;
Promise without gain’s worth naught;
So many obstacles she’s brought,
That none can count their number.
Resistance and Shame encumber
Me, and Ill-Talk, and Jealousy.
Ill-Talk poisons and taints all he
Encounters, and his evil tongue
Delivers them to martyrdom.
Fair-Welcome in prison do they
Hold; he is in my thoughts alway,
And if he’s not with me, I know,
In a brief while, to death I’ll go.
Above all, I waste away because
Of that old crone, foul and coarse,
Who’s set to guard him so closely,
Not a soul will she let him see.
Chapter XXXIII: He considers his situation
FROM now on my woes will deepen;
Tis true the God of Love has given
Three gifts to me, of his good grace,
Yet gifts all lost to me in this place:
Sweet-Thought, who aids me not at all;
Sweet-Speech, whose help proves gall;
Sweet-Glances, he’s the third by name;
God help me, I have lost those same.
Doubtless fair gifts they are, and yet
Of no worth to me, unless they let
Fair-Welcome forth from his prison,
Where he’s held for no good reason.
I shall die for lack of him, I fear,
For that he’ll ne’er escape is clear.
Escape! No, for by what prowess,
Could he win free of that fortress?
It will not be achieved through me,
In truth, small sense, rather folly
And madness, did I there display,
When homage to Love I did pay.
That Lady Idleness made me do,
And shame be on her for it too,
Who let me into the garden fair,
When I did beg for shelter there!
For if she had sought my good,
My plea she’d not have understood;
Never grant a hearing to a fool,
For an instant, such is my rule;
He should be swiftly reproved,
Before his folly can been proved.
I was a fool, yet she gave ear,
But not for my own good, I fear;
She did accomplish all my wish,
And yet I must lament like this.
And Reason advised me, in my need;
I may count myself a fool, indeed,
Choosing neither to renounce love,
Nor yet Reason’s counsel approve.
Reason was right so to blame me,
Who would a foolish lover be,
And now it is right that I lament,
I’faith, since now I would repent.
Repent! Alas, why should I though?
As a false traitor I would show,
For the devil thus I’d have obeyed,
And so seen my master betrayed.
Is Fair-Welcome a traitor too?
Must he attract my hatred who,
By doing me a courtesy,
Languishes, trapped by Jealousy?
The courtesy that he did me, too,
None would expect a man to do,
In thus desiring me to oppose
The thorny hedge, and kiss the Rose.
He deserves no ingratitude,
From me, nor shall I prove so rude.
Never, God please, will I approve
Murmurs against the God of Love,
Nor against Hope, nor Idleness,
Right gracious to me, I confess;
For it would be wrong, tis plain,
If of their fair deeds I complain.
So there is naught to do but suffer,
My body to martyrdom offer,
And wait in hope, despite my grief,
Till Love do send me some relief.
Chapter XXXIII: He remembers the God of Love’s promise
I MUST wait upon his mercy,
For I recall how he said to me:
‘You, for your service, I do thank;
I’ll raise you to the highest rank,
If base acts steal it not from you.
Expect it not soon; for tis true,
Great fortune comes not in an hour;
O’er time and woe we lack power.’
Word for word, so he spoke to me,
Clearly he loves me tenderly;
I needst but serve, and mind my place,
If I wish to deserve his grace;
For any fault would lie in me,
Not in the God of Love, for he,
As a God, can never fail, say I.
Surely in me the fault doth lie,
And yet I know not why tis so,
Nor, perchance, shall I ever know.
So let things go on, as they may,
Let the God of Love have his way,
Let me escape, or continue still,
Or let me die, if that be his will.
I shall ne’er reach the end of this,
Yet I’ll die if I win not my wish,
Or some other wins it not for me.
But if Love who wounds me deeply,
Would wish to achieve it for me,
Then no ill could ever grieve me,
That comes about through serving him.
No, let all happen, at his whim.
Let him guide me now, as before,
For I, indeed, can do no more.
But whatever happens further,
I pray that he will remember
Fair-Welcome, who doth me kill,
And yet to me hath done no ill,
After my death; and, for his ease,
To you, Amor, ere my life cease,
Since I cannot bear his burden, I,
Without regret, confess, and sigh,
(It being every lover’s intent,
Thus to make their last testament)
That to him my heart I do leave,
For I have naught else to bequeath.
Chapter XXXIV: Reason descends again from her tower
Here that most beauteous Reason,
Returns, she, who in every season,
With her wise counsel, doth correct
Those who their true good neglect.
WHILE I complained, sorrowfully,
Of the great ills that troubled me,
Not knowing where to seek relief
For all of my anger and my grief,
I saw Reason, the fair, descending
From her tower, straight returning;
On hearing my plaint, she swiftly,
Came toward me, and that directly.
Could she but gladly do me good,
According to her power, she would.
‘Dear Friend’, said Reason, the fair,
‘What progress now in your affair?
Are you not weary yet of loving?
Nor have had enough of grieving?
How do Love’s ills suit the lover?
Are they too sweet now, or bitter?
Know you not yet to choose the wise,
All that might aid you, and suffice?
For have you found a kind master
In him who achieved your capture,
He who torments you without cease?
Ill was the day you sought to please
Your lord, paying homage to him;
A fine fool, thus did you begin.
But doubtless you knew not who
It was with whom you had to do;
For you, if you’d but known him well,
Had ne’er succumbed thus to his spell;
Or if he had become your master,
You’d not have served him a summer,
Nor even a day, nor yet an hour;
You would have scorned his power
I think, and instantly removed,
Nor been bound to him through love.
Claim you to know him?’ ‘Yes, lady.’
‘How? In your soul?’ ‘No, because he
Instructed me: “You should delight
In serving such a master aright,
A lord who is of such renown.”’
‘Know you more?’ ‘No, for I found
That, after he had commanded me,
Swift as an eagle, he did flee,
While I remained in peril here.’
‘A poor acquaintance then, I fear.
But now I would have you gain
Knowledge, after all this pain
That sets awry all your affair;
No wretched fellow anywhere,
Doth bear a burden any greater;
It is good to know one’s master.
If you knew the God of Love well
You could escape and flee this cell,
This prison where you waste away.’
‘Lady, since he’s my lord today,
And I his liegeman completely,
My heart would listen willingly,
And learn more, I gladly admit,
If there was one here to teach it.’
‘Upon my life then, I shall do so,
Since your heart doth seek to know.
Now, without a lie, will be known
A thing which can ne’er be shown;
You’ll win to it, without science,
Gather, without your cognisance,
What has ne’er before been seen,
Nor could it be revealed, I mean;
Though, even if a man doth know,
Who fixes his heart on loving so,
Shall not through it suffer the less,
Unless he’d flee from love’s duress.
Yet thus the knot I’ll have untied,
You must else find forever tied.
Now grant me your full attention.
Of Love, I’ll yield my description.’
Chapter XXXIV: Reason’s description of Love
‘LOVE is peace yet filled with hate;
Love is hatred though love’s its state;
Love is a faithless faithfulness,
Love is a faithful faithlessness;
A state of fear, and is yet secure,
Despairs, and yet doth hope the more;
Love is reason lost to madness,
Yet is a mad reasonableness;
It is the sweet risk of drowning,
A great load, and yet easy lifting;
It’s Charybdis, the perilous,
Disagreeable and yet gracious;
It is a most healthful languor,
And yet a health that doth rancour;
A hunger sated abundantly,
And a covetous sufficiency;
It is thirst, in drink e’er sunk,
And a thirst-intoxicated drunk;
Tis false delight, delighted woe,
Tis happiness enraged also;
Sweet ill, ill-seeming sweetness,
An ill-flavoured flavourfulness;
A pardon and yet stained by sin,
A sin by pardon touched within;
Love is pain, yet all too joyous,
A cruelty most piteous;
Tis movement, yet all unstable,
A state too fixed, yet mutable;
A frail strength, but strong frailness,
That moves all by its forcefulness;
Tis foolish sense, and wise folly,
Prosperity both sad and happy;
Tis laughter filled with many a tear,
Tis rest that labours many a year;
Love is a hell filled with sweetness,
And a paradise of sore distress;
Tis the prison that brings solace,
Tis spring-time with winter’s face;
Love’s the moth that naught doth spare,
Eats at the fine, and the threadbare,
For lovers drink as good a wine
Beneath the threadbare as the fine;
And none’s of such high lineage
And none’s so skilful, none so sage,
Nor exerts such proven strength,
Nor is so brave, nor owns at length
To so many virtues, that he
Is not vulnerable to Love, you see;
For the whole world travels his way,
He’s the God who leads all astray,
Except for those folk in evil state
That Nature doth excommunicate,
Because they do great wrong to her:
I care naught for them; however
I’d not wish purer lovers to love
With such a love that they but prove
Wretched, at last, and full of sorrow,
Because the love-god fools them so.
Yet if that state you would achieve
Where Love can never make you grieve,
Where you are cured of all such rage,
You can drink no sweeter beverage
Than thoughts of fleeing him today,
For you’ll find relief no other way.
Choose to follow him, he’ll pursue;
Yet if you flee, he’ll flee from you.’
When I had heard Reason through,
Though she spoke in vain, as I knew,
I said: ‘Lady, I know no more,
I declare, than I did before,
Of how I might withdraw from love.
So many contraries you approve,
I’ve learnt naught from all your art,
Though I can speak the text, by heart,
For my heart remembers all of it;
Indeed I could speak of it with wit,
Before the public, or such I own,
Though it say naught to me alone.
Since you’ve described Love to me,
Both praising and blaming equally,
Please tell of it now in such a way
That I may remember it alway;
For I’ve ne’er heard it so described.’
‘Willingly’, Reason then replied,
‘Listen; if its essence I’ve caught,
Then Love is a frailty of thought,
Shared by two, they of any gender,
When they are close to one another,
Rising in them as a longing, born
Of a disordered vision one morn,
To embrace and kiss each other,
Find bodily solace in one another.
And lovers do think of nothing else,
But burn with joy within themselves;
They care but little for fruitfulness,
Delighting themselves in fond excess.
Yet there are those though, tis clear,
Who do not hold such true love dear,
Though true love they feign to make;
They deign not to love for love’s sake,
And so deceive the ladies in this,
For heart and soul they’ll promise,
Indulging in every lie and fable,
With those they find most tractable,
Until their pleasure they’ve received;
They thus prove the less-deceived:
For tis best to play the deceiver,
Than the one deceived, my master,
Especially in such a battle where we,
Know not where the mean might be.
I’ll speak though of Love’s other nature,
That doth accord with Holy Scripture;
Since, without divination, I know
The Divine Being continues so.
He who with some woman doth lie,
Should long, with all his might, say I,
To preserve his own likeness alway,
Since all is subject to decay,
And by means of true succession
Ensure the following generation.
Since parents must vanish from here,
Nature wills that a child appear,
To carry on the parents’ labour,
One life continuing in the other.
For this did Nature create delight
And so ensured the task seems light,
So that the maker doth not shirk,
But finds fulfilment in the work;
For many would seek to avoid it,
If pleasure drew them not toward it.
In this, Nature is wise and subtle:
No man doth the right road travel,
Nor right intention doth possess,
Who only pleasure doth address.
For, know you what they engender
Who do such? They but surrender
Themselves, like slaves, in a trice,
To the Prince of all earthly vice.
For such is the root of all malaise,
As Cicero in his writing says,
Where he speaks about Old Age,
Which he, more than Youth, doth praise.’
Chapter XXXIV: Reason on Youth and Age
‘YOUTH drives the young folk, sadly,
To risk both their soul and body;
Tis too perilous to pass through
Without breaking a limb or two,
Meeting death, or bringing shame
And dishonour on the family name.
In Youth a man’s life’s all confusion,
Spent in all kinds of dissolution,
In pursuing evil company,
And manners most disorderly.
Often, changeable, as we see,
He may join some monastery,
Through not knowing how to behave,
Or use the freedom Nature gave;
Thinking to find himself anew,
By placing himself in such a mew;
There he remains till he doth profess,
Or, if he finds his vows no less
A bind, and repents of the affair,
He’ll leave, or yet may end life there,
Because he dare not quit the same,
Held there by a sense of Shame,
And stay, opposing his own heart,
Immured from the world, apart,
Weeping, and lamenting the cost,
All the freedom that he has lost,
That cannot be rendered him again,
Unless God’s grace he should gain,
Easing all through obedience,
Learning the virtue of patience.
Youth drives young men to folly,
To ribaldry, debauchery,
To lechery, and wild excess,
Exposing the heart’s fickleness;
Given such disorder, never
Can order be regained ever.
Youth doth lead those into danger,
Who fix all their heart on Pleasure;
Thus Pleasure doth snare and command
The body and the mind of man,
By means of Youth his hand-maiden,
Whose custom tis to do ill to men,
And draw them to delight; and true,
Tis the only task she seeks to do.
But Age leads men from pleasure,
Who know it not; so, at leisure,
Learn it here, or ask of the old
Whom Youth once had in her hold,
And they will then recall for you
All of the peril they passed through;
And all the madness of those hours
When she diminished their powers,
And all those follies of desire
To which they would once aspire.
Age, who is the good companion,
At their side, as they travel on,
Leads them back to the truer way,
And to their end doth them convey;
And yet her service is ill-advised,
For she is neither loved nor prized,
At least to the extent that none
Would have her for himself anon;
For none wish ever to grow old,
Nor Youth her ending to behold.
The old marvel, sore dismayed,
All their memories on parade,
At their follies, turned to dust,
For remember them they must,
All that they did in life’s course,
Blind to shame or true remorse;
Or if they felt or hurt or shame,
At how they might escape the same,
Without incurring a worse fate
For soul, or body, or estate.
And know you then where Youth dwells,
That joy to men and women spells?
Pleasure has her in his household.
And when she’s sufficiently old
Then he’ll have her serve his court;
For she would serve him for naught,
And therefore does so willingly,
Seeking to tread his path gladly,
Abandoning her body to him,
Not wishing to live without him.
And would you know where Age resides?
I’ll tell you without fail, besides
Tis there you are obliged to go,
If death summon you not below
When you are young, to his cave,
Brimful of shadows is the grave.
Toil and Sadness grant Age space,
And they chain her, and so debase
And beat her, and torment her so,
Reminding her where she must go,
They rouse desire for repentance;
Flails and whips are her sentence.
And late it comes into her mind,
As she recalls the years behind,
Seeing herself worn, white-haired,
That Youth deceived her, ever snared
Her, and did fill her life always
With vanity, in former days;
And then that her life is lost,
Unless her future pays the cost,
Sustaining her, in penitence,
For the sins of Youth fled hence,
And by good works, amidst the pain,
Leads her to sovereign good again,
From which Youth parted her when she
Was plunged so deep in vanity;
Her present time so brief a treasure,
Now, it lacks or count or measure.’
Chapter XXXIV: Reason scorns mere carnal pleasure
‘AND yet, howe’er the wind doth blow,
Those who the joy of love would know
Should seek its fruit, both he and she,
And that of whate’er rank she be,
And seek it gladly, but not despite
A share of that which doth delight;
And yet I know that there are many
Who would not conceive at any
Price, and if they do, grow faint,
But make no noise or complaint,
Unless it be in some foolish game,
When they’re indifferent to shame.
In short then, all turn to Pleasure
All those who at this work do labour,
Except for those who value naught,
Who with coins are vilely bought,
And who are subject to no law,
Their lives indeed a running sore;
Surely, for coins, no decent woman
Would her own good name abandon.
Nor should a man be over-ready
To marry one who sells her body.
Why then should he hold that dear
She’s let men pummel many a year?
A poor maltreated wretch is he
Who is deceived so vilely,
Thinking she loves him, moreover,
Because she claims he is her lover,
Smiles at him and treats him nicely;
For surely no creature such as she
Should, as one’s lover, be approved,
Or proves worthy of being loved?
One who would ruin a man’s life,
She should ne’er be taken to wife.
I do not say a woman should not
Wear a trinket her lover’s bought,
And for pleasure and solace bear
Whate’er her lover has gifted her;
But not because she did demand
The gift, or that she had so planned;
Such is vile; she should do the same
As him, and so avoid all shame.
Thus their hearts are joined together,
They love, and so pledge each other.
Think not that I would part the two,
I would have them unite, and do
Whate’er they ought that is fair,
And courteous and debonair,
And thus avoid that Love whose arts
But inflame and scorch their hearts,
Free of the longing to possess,
That in false hearts stirs covetousness.
Love should be born of a true heart,
And gifts should only play a part,
As indeed should bodily pleasure.
But the Love that has your measure
Mere carnal ease doth represent,
So that you lack all other intent;
That is why you desired the Rose,
Why dreams of naught else arose;
Yet she lies not within your reach,
Tis what makes your strength to leach
Away, your skin waste on your frame.
When you received Amor, that same
Fractious guest, and gave him lodging,
All ill was in your welcoming;
Drive him forth now from your courts,
Lest he should rob you of those thoughts
That yet may work to your own good;
Expel him swiftly, as you should.
Great mischief in hearts doth move,
Whene’er they are drunk with Love.
In the end, you’ll know the cost,
When the time has all been lost,
And your youth has been wasted,
In those pleasures briefly tasted.
And should you live long enough
To see yourself win free of Love,
For the time so lost you’ll grieve,
Time that you can ne’er retrieve;
Win, I mean, all that you sought,
For in that Love where you are caught
Men lose sense, time, rank and station,
Body and soul, and reputation.’
Chapter XXXIV: Reason speaks of Friendship
ALL this did Reason teach to me.
But then the God of Love did see
That none of it was put in play.
Although I had learnt, I may say,
Word for word, all of that matter,
For Love still drew me on farther,
Through my thoughts went chasing there,
A raptor who hunts everywhere,
And gripped my heart lest it stray.
Behind my head, he worked away,
As I sat there to hear her sermon,
For, in the course of it, when Reason
Stuffed words, all wasted, in my ear,
Into the other his words he’d steer,
And leave me full of pain and anger:
Thus, full of ire, I called to her:
‘Lady, would you betray me? Must
I then detest all others, thus?
If love doth harm me, as you say,
Should I then hate all folk alway,
Never thus with true love to love,
But rather in hatred live and move?
Then I would be a mortal sinner,
A thief, my God, or little better.
I’ll not be prey to this malaise,
I’ll win free in one of two ways,
For either I’ll love, or I will hate.
Perchance hatred pays a better rate
In the end, if a man, though true,
Finds that love’s not worth a sou.
If so, then good is your advice,
All that you have told me, twice:
That I should now renounce Amor;
And he’s a fool who’d ask for more.
And yet you’ve reminded me of
Another and a little-known love,
Which I’ve not heard you yet decry,
That between folk doth form a tie:
If you would speak of that to me,
Then a fool I’d prove to be
If I listened not, right willingly,
For at least then, and presently,
Knowledge of Love I should gain,
Should you be pleased to explain.’
‘A fool you surely are, fair friend,
If your ear you failed to extend
To the speech I gave for your good.
Another I’ll give you, as I should,
For I am ready, at your behest,
To answer your honest request;
Yet know not if such will aid you.
Love takes then many forms, tis true,
Other than that which has so moved
Your heart, and your sense removed.
In an evil hour came that encounter,
For God’s sake, pursue it no further.
Thus, Friendship is one kind of love,
Tis mutual goodwill, all free of
Discord, between men of sense,
In accord with God’s benevolence,
For amongst them is community
Of all their goods, in charity;
And such is their fair intention
They’ll allow of no exception.
No friend proves slow to aid another;
They’re wise and secret with each other,
And loyal, for little worth has he
The man whose mind lacks loyalty.
What a man dares to think of, he
May share with his friend as freely
As if to himself he spoke, alone;
Here denunciation is all unknown.
Such manners, then, are customary
To those who would love perfectly.
No man’s truly amiable
Unless he proves reliable
And changes not as fortune moves;
Thus to his friend he ever proves
His worth, in wealth or poverty;
That friend who trusts him utterly.
And if he sees his friend, of late,
In need at all, he does not wait
Until at last his aid is sought,
For a favour begged seems bought
At a price that seems all too dear
To worthy hearts that prove sincere.
Chapter XXXV: Reason speaks of aid between friends
Here the Supplicant doth suggest
To his true friend, and so request,
That he doth aid him in his need,
Sharing his wealth, as is agreed.
‘THE worthy man is filled with shame,
Whene’er he must request that same:
He thinks about it anxiously,
Troubled at asking, certainly,
Ashamed to say what he must say,
Lest a refusal comes his way.
But when the friend is truly known,
A friend whose love has been shown
Before, and has been well-proven
On all occasions thereby given,
All must turn to joy and gladness,
Free from any shame or sadness.
For how should a man feel shame
Before a friend in more than name?
When a secret such friends do learn
No third shall hear of it in turn.
Nor shall you fear a friend’s reproach,
For a wise man doth not broach
Any business except his own,
Unlike a fool, as is well-known.
And will do more, for he’ll succour
You, and do all in his power,
Happy to do so, to speak true,
Helping a friend by aiding you.
If he must refuse the request,
He is troubled by that no less
Than him who made it for, you see,
Full mighty is love’s mastery:
He will bear half of his sorrows,
Comforting him as best he knows,
And play his part in his joy too,
If the love that they share is true.
By the law of such amity,
Says Cicero somewhere, then he
Who is in need should make request
Of his friends, if such be honest,
And receive the same, in season,
If tis made for a good reason;
Rejecting any other request
Other than two that he excepts,
The first: to save a friend from death,
We ought to fight to our last breath;
The second: if men attack his name,
A friend should then defend the same.
These two cases demand our action,
Without concern for right or reason;
No friend, in such case, should refuse it,
In so far as love doth excuse it.
This love, which I expound to you,
This is not contrary to my view,
Tis a love I’d have you follow,
Not that other that rings hollow;
Virtue is in its every breath,
While the other leads men to death.’
Chapter XXXV: Reason speaks of false love, for gain
‘OF another love I would speak
Opposed to the love we should seek,
And one which we should ever blame,
It is a false love that I name,
In hearts Covetousness doth pain,
Hearts sick with the desire for gain;
A love that wavers in this way,
As soon as it loses the hope, I say,
Of the profit it would attain,
It doth flicker and fade again.
The loving hearts, the true lovers,
They for themselves value others.
A false heart doth flatter and feign
For the profit it might obtain,
Such its love, a child of Fortune,
Swiftly eclipsed as is the moon,
Which Earth darkens as we know
When the moon is in its shadow;
For all of its brightness is gone,
Once it loses sight of the sun.
But then when the shadow is past,
Its orb shines clear again at last,
Lit by the sun’s rays that abide,
Shining from Earth’s other side.
This love then is of such a nature,
Now it shows clear, now fainter;
For once tis shrouded by Poverty
In her cloak, both dark and ugly,
And so is lit by Wealth no more,
It must flee, rendered obscure,
Yet when Wealth lights it again
It shines forth before all men;
When Wealth fails, it fails too,
Yet shines forth with Wealth anew.
All rich men are loved the same
By such Love as thus I name,
Especially the miserly
Who will ne’er the heart set free
From their desire, from the vice
That goes with covetous Avarice.
A rich man that of love doth brag,
Bears more points than a horned stag,
Is this not a fine show of folly?
For he loves not, most certainly;
Why believe then that he is loved?
In doing so his folly’s proved.
In such a case he is not wise,
Merely a branched stag in disguise:
Lord, tis friendship we must show
If true friends we’d seek to know.
I will prove such a man loves not,
For when he poor friends has got,
He only guards his wealth the more,
Keeps the poor man from his door,
And plans to keep his wealth forever,
Until his mouth is closed, whenever
Vile Death comes to strike him down;
For he himself would rather drown,
Or see himself torn limb from limb,
Than have his wealth part from him,
And so be shared among his friends.
There is no way that Love extends
To such, for where is amity
In the heart that lacks all pity?
Yet he knows what he does, indeed,
For every man knows his own deed.
Much to be blamed he who’s proved
A man who loves not, nor is loved.’
Chapter XXXV: Reason on Fortune
‘NOW, since Fortune I’ve chanced upon,
In speaking of Love, in my sermon,
I’d like to mention a great marvel,
Of which I doubt you’ve heard the equal;
I don’t know whether I’ll convince you,
But nonetheless the thing is true,
And in the books one finds it writ:
That there’s greater worth and profit,
When Fortune’s hostile and perverse;
For kindly Fortune doth prove worse.
And if to you that seems doubtful,
By reasoned thought, tis provable.
When sweet and kind, then Fortune
Deceives, promising men the moon,
Makes fools of them, for like a mother
Her milk to them ne’er seems bitter.
She grants a seeming loyalty,
Sharing her delights all freely,
Such as wealth that most men treasure,
Power, authority, and honour,
Promising them stability,
Despite their mutability,
Feeding them then on vainglory,
While they enjoy prosperity.
When she lifts them on her wheel,
Masters of the world they feel,
And themselves so safe in all
They ne’er can meet with a fall.
And when she has set them there,
They believe they’ve friends to spare,
So many friends that they lose count,
Nor can they lessen the amount.
Men gather in swarms about them,
And as their master accept them,
Pledge them their service, with relish,
The shirt from their back if they wish,
Swearing that they’d spend their blood,
To save them, if ever they could,
Ready to follow and obey,
All their lives, till their dying day.
And those who do such words receive,
They bask in glory, and believe,
Just as if they were Gospel truth,
While all is flattery forsooth
And guile, they’ll find, to their cost,
Should their prosperity be lost,
Without means of recovery;
Then their friends they’ll truly see:
For if of a hundred loyal ‘friends’,
Kin, companions, Fortune lends
Them one who chooses to remain,
God be thanked then, for that same.
It is Fortune, I say again,
Who, when she dwells with men,
Troubles their common-sense,
Nourishing them on ignorance.
But when perverse and contrary
Fortune doth end prosperity,
And the wheel doth them displace,
Down from the summit to the base,
Into the mire, on a heart full sore
She places, like a mother-in-law,
An unpleasant plaster, not dipped
In vinegar but in poverty, stripped
Of former wealth, all thin and sere;
A witness that she is most severe.
Trust not in Fortune’s gifts for she
Denies all things security.
Perverse hostile Fortune teaches,
As soon as men lose their riches,
With what love they were loved,
By all the ‘friends’ they approved.
For all those good Fortune sees
Are so shocked by adversities,
True enemies they all become,
Not one remains, nor half a one!
Friendship they renounce and flee,
As soon as Poverty they see.
Not for a moment do they stay,
But everywhere they go, alway,
Blame their former friend and claim
As wretched fools those they defame.
Even those who were granted most,
When their friend of wealth did boast,
Testify in their gleeful voices,
That his loss comes of foolish choices;
They’ll not help, for now they flee him;
Yet his true friends will stand by him,
Possessing hearts of such nobleness
They love him not for his largesse,
Nor any gain they might hope for;
They defend him, bring him succour:
Fortune plays no part there ever,
For a true friend loves forever.
Doth a man who attacks a friend,
Not show that love is at an end?
Yet in those cases, of which I tell,
Love may be validly lost, as well,
Through reproach, anger or pride,
Or speaking what one should hide,
Or through complaint at some action,
That smacks of venomous detraction.
The friend, in such a case, should flee;
But naught else provoke his enmity.
To a man’s honour it would redound,
If in a thousand, one was found,
For not even wealth without end
Can equal the worth of a friend,
Nor a value attain, indeed,
That a friend’s doth not exceed;
Likewise a friend, along the way,
Proves better than wealth any day.
So when Fortune, that miscreant,
Ruins men, in scarce an instant,
Then in their misery doth she
Bring to those men such clarity
That they their true friends discover
And through such trial see moreover
That they are worth more than aught
That they have e’er wrought or bought;
Thus they gain, in adversity,
More than from their prosperity;
Ignorance dwells with the latter,
Knowledge rises from the former.
And that man, who now doth view
Both the false friend and the true
And sees which is which, when he
Was rich as ever a man could be,
And all men offered him, alway,
Heart and body, and all, each day,
What would he not have paid, I say,
To know then what he knows today?
He’d have been the less deceived,
If the sad truth he’d then perceived.
Thus he wins the more advantage,
Being changed from a fool to a sage,
Through all the ill that he’s received,
Than from his riches that deceived.’
Chapter XXXV: Reason on Wealth
‘THAT wealth makes no man wealthy,
That’s locked away in his treasury.
Simply a bare sufficiency
Allows a man to live richly:
He who is not worth two loaves here
Is more at ease and wealthier
Than one with a hundred sacks of grain.
And the reason why I’ll now explain:
For he’s likely a merchant the latter,
With a heart so foolish in this matter,
That he is filled with care and woe
Seeking to make a fortune so;
And never stops his worrying
His adding, and his multiplying;
He’ll never have enough, you see,
Nor knows not what enough might be.
But one who simply trusts that he,
Each day, has a sufficiency,
Is satisfied with all he attains,
Since he lives on what he gains,
He lacks naught, that is his view,
Although he’s barely worth a sou,
Yet knows that should the need arise
He’ll win enough to eat; he buys
No shoes until the old are done,
His clothes they suit such a one;
And if he happens to fall ill,
And finds his food tasteless, still
He reflects that, howe’er he feels,
He needs but little for his meals
To hold himself to the true way,
And into danger need not stray;
Or if carried to some hospital,
There he’ll find solace till he’s well.
Perchance he rarely thinks of such,
Nor dwells on illness overmuch,
And thinks, if it should come to be,
Before that day arrived, then he
Would have savings, so he could
Support himself if e’er it should.
And if saving till he grows old
To keep away the heat and cold
Or stave off death by starvation
Matters not, thinks of salvation;
His balm is, the sooner he dies,
The sooner he’ll see Paradise,
Believing such his God will give,
When here he doth cease to live.
Pythagoras, he says as much;
If you’ve read him, he doth touch
On all this in the Golden Verses,
For these fair words he disburses:
“And when you depart this body,
In the pure aether, moving freely,
The human you will leave behind
And live on, then, in the Divine.”
A captive, a born fool, is he,
Who takes this to be his country;
Our country is not here on Earth.
Learn from the clerks, the worth
Of Boethius’ Consolation,
All the thoughts it doth occasion;
Who translated it, he truly
Would benefit the laity.
The man who knows how to live
On what his income doth give,
Nor doth wish that he had more,
Ne’er thinks himself to be poor;
For no one, as our teachers know,
Is trapped here, but by thinking so,
Be he king, or slave, or knight;
Many a lad, whose heart is light,
Lifting sacks of charcoal all day,
Sorrows not, whate’er they weigh.
For he’ll work patiently, alway,
And dance and skip about for pay,
Thinking wealth not worth a candle.
He’ll go eat tripe at Saint-Marcel,
Spend all his coins in the tavern,
Every last penny he doth earn,
And then return to his labour
With joy, as if it were an honour,
And gain his bread there lawfully,
Nor deign to stoop to thievery:
Then return to the tavern, anew,
And live life as they ought to do.
All who possess a sufficiency
Are blessed with wealth abundantly,
More, as the God of Justice knows,
Than the usurer could e’er suppose;
For a usurer, be assured of this,
Can ne’er be rich, for such he is,
So miserly, so covetous,
He proves poor, tormented thus.’
Chapter XXXV: Reason on Covetousness
‘AND no matter whom it displease,
Tis true no merchant lives at ease;
His heart’s in such a state of war,
Each day he strives to garner more,
Nor will acquire enough, forever
Fearing to lose what he has, ever
Seeking after what doth remain,
The ‘all’ that he can never gain;
For he doth desire naught less than
The wealth owned by some other man.
He has set himself a task, he’d fain
Drink the whole of the River Seine,
Of which though he drinks his fill,
Yet more of it remains there, still.
This the distress, this the ardour,
This the conflict, this the dolour,
This the pain that lasts forever,
Which tears at his innards ever,
And torments him, in his greed;
The more the gain, the more the need.
Your advocate and your physician
They too are in the same position,
Selling their knowledge for a fee,
Hung by the same rope, both unfree,
Finding their profits so pleasant
The latter for the one patient
That he has would wish for forty,
The former for his one case, thirty,
Or two hundred, or two thousand,
Such is their greed, you understand.
The same is true of that holy choir
Forever preaching, who so aspire
To honours, favours, or largesse,
That hearts in torment they possess.
Such men, they live not decently,
Above all, they chase vainglory,
Which they pursue, to which they’re wed,
Yet purchase the soul’s death instead.
The deceiver but himself deceives;
However much the hearer believes,
Or doth profit by what is taught;
The preacher himself profits naught;
For clever teaching whose advent
Doth flow in truth from ill-intent,
Provides no value to the preacher,
Though it may well save another:
While his examples stir the hearer,
Yet vainglory fills the preacher.
But such teachers I’ll o’erpass,
And speak of those folk who amass
Treasure, nor love God, nor fear;
Who their piles of coins hold dear,
Filling their coffers beyond all need,
Giving the poor outside no heed
Who die of hunger, and shiver so;
The miser’s reward, God doth know.
Three great misfortunes appertain
To those who such lives maintain:
First, vast effort they must expend,
Next, over them fear doth extend
Its grip, while they guard their haul,
Then, at last, they must leave it all.
In such torment they live and die,
All those who for great riches sigh.
All this is brought about by a lack
Of love, that all the world doth lack;
For if those who riches so approve
Were only loved, and they did love,
And true love reigned everywhere,
Evil would not the world impair.
If those who own most gave the most
To those who little wealth do boast,
Or made them loans, not at usury,
But purely out of charity;
If good intent they did express,
Guarding themselves from Idleness,
Then in this world none would be poor,
Nor should they be so, evermore.
But now the world is grown so stale
That they make love a thing for sale;
None loves but to achieve their aim,
Gifts, service, profit, such their game;
And women hawk themselves for sale:
An ill end may such sales entail!
Thus Fraud dishonours everyone,
Whereby all once held in common
Is owned now by that man or this;
They are so bound by Avarice,
That inborn freedom is eschewed,
And lost to a vile servitude;
All slaves to riches, as we see,
Wealth captured by their treasury:
Captured! Tis they themselves are caught,
Who are to such sad error brought;
Those earthly captives have rather
Sought to make wealth their master;
Yet wealth is naught until tis spent;
They understand not; their intent
Is shown by their response, the cry
That wealth is meant to be put by;
Untrue, tis they who do conceal it
And never give, spend or reveal it;
Yet nonetheless it shall be spent,
Whether or not tis their intent,
For in the end they all will die,
And leave it to some passer-by,
Who’ll disburse it, cheerfully,
And not a penny will they see.
Nor are they even sure that they
Can keep it all till that sad day;
Some thief may seize it by stealth,
And carry away all their wealth.
They make wrong use of treasure
Who thus divert it from its nature,
Its nature is that it should hasten
To aid and succour all poor men,
Not be laid up in some dark den;
For God provides it to this end,
Although men do Wealth imprison.
Yet Wealth that ought, by reason,
To follow them, such her destiny,
Supporting them where’er they be,
Takes her revenge, most honourably,
Drags them behind, all shamefully,
And rends them, and tears them apart,
Her triple blade piercing the heart.
The first blade is the effort of getting,
The second blade the fear of losing;
For thieves may their wealth uncover,
When they have gathered it together;
This fear torments them endlessly.
The third is the blade of mortality,
All’s left behind; as I said before,
Their guile brings ill to every door.
Thus Wealth takes revenge, you see,
Like a lady, sovereign and free,
On the slaves who imprison her,
And in peace doth rest and slumber,
While those poor wretches wake,
And toil and trouble, for her sake;
Beneath her feet treading the same,
Hers the honour, theirs the shame;
Their torment and their pain renewed,
As they languish there in servitude.
There’s no profit in such a state,
For those for whom such is their fate;
Yet without fail she will dwell,
When they are dead, who as I tell
Dare not mount her or make her
Course or leap, with the next comer.
But valiant men will her assail,
Ride her, spur o’er hill and dale,
And use their spurs and at leisure
Win their ease and take their pleasure,
Their hearts generous and ample.
Daedalus is the prime example,
Who made wings for his son;
Then with art, and not by custom,
He and Icarus flew o’er the sea.
With Wealth these men, valiantly,
Do likewise; make her wings to fly,
Gain glory and esteem thereby,
Rather than be thus commanded,
Scorning to be reprimanded
For that great longing, that vice
That goes with covetous Avarice;
Such men, who deal in courtesies
Through which their fine qualities
Are praised at length by one and all,
On superabundant virtues call;
For God finds them agreeable,
Hearts generous and charitable:
For as much as God hates Avarice,
He who did with His kindnesses
Nourish this world below, once He
(And none has taught you this but me)
Had wrought it, so Generosity
Pleases Him with her courtesy
And beneficence; God hates misers,
And condemns them as idolaters,
Each but a miserable slave
To fear, who an excess doth crave,
Who thinks, and doth as truth maintain,
That he but binds himself to gain
Purely to win security,
Find happiness and certainty.
Ah then, sweet earthly Riches, say,
If you are such as doth repay
Those misers who have shut you in,
By gladdening their hearts within?
For the more they garner here
Of you, the more they shake with fear,
And how can a man who’s insecure
Find happiness by gathering more?
Shall blessings fall upon him, here,
Who is a slave to doubt and fear?’
Chapter XXXV: Reason on wealthy monarchs
‘NOW one who listens to all I say
Might scorn my words, in that they
May speak of wealthy monarchs who
Would enhance their status anew,
From pride the common man believes,
For an armed force each king conceives,
Five hundred, or a thousand men,
He’ll gather about him, for then
His subjects commonly will say
Tis thus his worth he doth display:
But God knows, on the contrary,
Tis simply fear, that constantly
Torments him, making him do so.
Yet a lad from the docks may go
About alone, and in more safety,
Scorning robbers and thievery,
Without fearing aught men do,
Than the king in his robes of blue;
Though the king could bear to Mass
All the treasure he might amass,
All the gold and gems he could wear,
Every robber might take his share.
Whate’er he brought they might steal,
And seek to kill him as he doth kneel;
And would kill him too, I do believe,
Before he could arise and leave;
For the thieves that did so connive
Would know, if they left him alive,
They’d be pursued, in due course,
And then taken, and hung by force.
By force! By his men good and true;
His own strength isn’t worth a sou,
Compared with that bold lad I say,
Who travels lightly on his way.
By his good men? I’faith I lie,
Or else my words have gone awry,
For they are not ‘his’ men, I say,
Though his authority they obey.
For the king must leave them free,
And grant those men the liberty
To cease their aid when they wish;
Their own men, and no longer his;
Leaving the king powerless there,
As soon as the people so declare.
Their virtues, and their every skill,
Their bodies, strength, wisdom, will,
Are not his, he owns naught there,
For Nature denies him any share;
However kind Fortune is to men,
Know she may ne’er allow them
To own those things to which Nature
Has made them utterly a stranger,
Howe’er indeed they were gained.’
Chapter XXXV: Reason on true possessions
‘AH, lady! If it might be explained,
For the King of Angels sake, teach me,’
Said I, ‘what might belong to me,
If I could but have aught of my own;
For I would know: if such be known.’
Reason replied: You shall understand,
But expect neither house nor land,
Nor robes, nor any such adornment,
Hope not for an earthly tenement,
Or its furnishing in any manner.
You own things dearer and better,
All things within that lie to hand,
The which you readily understand,
That remain with you constantly;
Nor can they flee from you, to be
Of service to some other man;
They are rightly at your command:
The other things you might possess,
Like worn-out shoes, are valueless,
Neither you nor any person living
Owns anything worth the selling:
For, know that which you truly own
Is enclosed within you alone.
All the rest is Fortune’s prey,
She ever gives and takes away,
Grants us what we cannot keep,
Making fools to laugh and weep.
But naught that Fortune can do
Will ensnare the wise man, who
Is not bound by, nor doth feel,
The motion of her turning wheel:
Uncertain, all that she doth enable,
For what she does is so unstable
That there’s no joy in love of her;
She yields the virtuous no pleasure,
Nor could any pleasure be right
That is so soon eclipsed by night.
Therefore I would have you know,
Let not your heart cling there, so
You’re still untainted by it all.
For a great sin would yet befall,
If you felt desire for possessions,
And thus sinned gainst anyone,
By calling yourself their friend
But to gain by them in the end,
Or win from them their esteem.
None would that a virtue deem.
From the love I speak of so,
Flee as from the vile and low,
And from amorous love be free;
Be wise now, and believe in me.
And yet you’re but a foolish thing,
Reproaching me now, for saying,
That I commanded you to hate;
Now where, when, did I so state?’
Chapter XXXV: Reason on true Love
‘EVER you sound a single chord:
That I should scorn Amor, my lord,
And turn to a love that’s strange.
Yet one who did to Carthage range,
And from Orient to Occident,
And did so till his years were spent,
And he had lapsed into old age,
Made everywhere a pilgrimage,
Moving as fast as e’er he might,
His skirts gathered, day and night,
Extended his visits, striding forth
From farthest south to farthest north,
Till throughout the world he’d been,
Not a trace would he have seen
Of this love, you reveal to me.
Indeed, since the gods did flee,’
I said, ‘whom the giants assailed,
Tis amorous love that has prevailed;
Right, Chastity, and Faith sped too,
At that same moment, for the true
Love I speak of, fled, was lost
From this Earth, to its sore cost;
Justice, the weightiest, fled last.
All their residence now past,
Earth they abandoned, everywhere,
War and strife they could not bear;
In the heavens they chose to dwell,
Nor since, but by some miracle,
Have they dared descend again.
Fraud drove them out, who did gain
Mastery of the world, at length,
Through his insolence and strength.
Not even Cicero, who read all
The obscure writings could recall,
For all his ingenuity,
More than two pairs, or is it three,
Or perchance four, from ages past
Of such true lovers, at the last;
Not since this world was created.
And then he found least, he stated,
Among the folk of his own time
Among those who with him did dine:
For I’ve not read, anywhere,
That he found such people there.
And am I wiser than Cicero?
I’d be a fool if I searched so,
For examples of equal worth,
For there are none now, on Earth.
To find them, where should I go,
Since there are none here below?
With the cranes there should I fly,
Or, beyond the clouds, leap high,
Like that swan of Socrates?
Of such I’ll speak no more; I cease
To set my hopes on such folly,
Perchance the gods thought, of me,
That, like the gods of old, I would
Attack the heavens; thus I should
In turn be dealt a lightning blow;
I know not if you’d wish it so,
But leave me not in any doubt.’
‘Fair friend,’ she said, ‘now hear me out;
Tis not fitting you seek to fly;
Wish it, and all will seek to try.
Believe me; without more ado,
What you hear me say, then do.
If such true love you can’t attain,
Since the failure, I should explain,
May rest with you not some other,
Then I will teach you of another.
Another love? No, tis the same,
Which all folk can indeed attain,
As long as they can comprehend
A love that widely doth extend,
If they seek love more generally,
Seeking no other communion
Than that of true participation.
You may love, though generally,
All folk, and love them sincerely;
Show love to all, as if to one,
At least a love held in common;
Act towards all, in what you do,
As you’d have them act towards you.
Do naught to others, naught pursue,
Except you’d wish it done to you;
And if tis thus you’d seek to love
None should jibe or disapprove;
This love you’re bound to follow,
For none alive should such forgo.
And because they shun this love
Who strive in evil paths to move,
Judges are named, men of worth,
To save and protect all on earth
Gainst whom the world acts amiss,
Judges who shall right injustice,
And punish and chastise all those
Who, denying this love, suppose
Tis right to wound or even kill,
Rape, or rob, or plunder at will,
Or seek to harm by detraction,
Or accuse in some false action,
Or by some ill-doing, openly,
Cause damage or, worse, secretly.
All such shall be brought to justice.’
Chapter XXXV: Reason on Justice
‘Ah, lady, since you mention this,
Speaking of she who wore a crown,
And was once held in high renown,
And since such fond pains you seek
To take with me; then of her speak.’
‘Say; of whom?’ ‘Willingly I’d hear
If you so please, a judgement here
Concerning both Justice and Love;
Of which do you the more approve?’
‘Of which love do you speak?’ ‘The one
You’d have me follow, for the one
That lives in me I’d not submit
To judgement, unless you see fit.’
‘That, foolish man, I do believe,
If my judgement you’d receive:
The truer Love is far the greater.’
‘The proof?’ ‘Certainly; consider,
Of two things both compatible
Each necessary and profitable,
That which is most necessary
Is that not better?’ ‘Assuredly.’
‘Well then, in the case of these two
Try to keep their nature in view.
These two things where’er they be
Are they profitable and necessary?’
‘Tis true.’ And I should consider
The more necessary to be better?’
‘Yes.’ ‘Then I’ll say no more to you
Of whatever profit may accrue;
But Love that comes of Charity
Holds more to true necessity
By far, than Justice doth do.’
‘Prove it lady, ere you continue.’
‘Willingly, I say then, as proof,
That the more necessary, in truth,
Is the good unto itself sufficient,
And the worthier of true assent,
Than the good that requires aid.
Do you agree with all I’ve said?’
‘Why not continue, such that I
May know if I should answer ‘aye’?
For an example I would hear
Ere I agree, so all prove clear.’
‘I’faith, here is a burden new,
The proof and an example too;
Yet an example you shall hear,
So the truth may sooner appear.
If a man hauls a barge, readily,
Without aid, that you can hardly
Move, is he not better than you?’
‘Yes lady, at hauling, that is true.’
‘Then take from it your example.
Listen, and my reasoning sample,
And what you garner try to keep.
If Justice were always asleep,
This Love that you so despise
Would nonetheless suffice,
To live a good life and true,
Without judgment on the few;
But Justice without Love, no;
Love is better, and proven so.’
‘Explain your reasoning to me.’
‘Silence, and I shall, willingly.
Now Justice reigned once, long ago,
When Uranus lived, and we know
That Cronos who was his son,
(No more harsh and bitter a one),
Castrating his father savagely,
Hurled his testes into the sea,
And thence Aphrodite arose,
As the most ancient books disclose;
And yet if Justice returned to Earth,
And was valued at the same worth
As she was then, still there would be
The need, as you’ll see presently,
For all folk to love one another,
Though dealing justly with each other.
If Love should ever choose to flee,
Justice would perish utterly,
But if all folk loved each other
They’d ne’er harm one another;
And since crime would thus depart,
What then would be Justice’s part?’
‘Lady, I know not.’ ‘That I believe,
For all the world, as I conceive,
Would then be tranquil and at peace,
The titles ‘king’ and ‘prince’ would cease,
No bailiff, no provost would we see,
For the people would live honestly,
No judges there, where no evils stir.
Hence I say that Love is greater
In itself than is mere Justice,
Though the latter counters Malice,
Mother of Lordship, who doth cost
Men all those freedoms swiftly lost.
For if no evil or sin remained,
By which all the world is stained,
Ne’er a king would men have seen,
Nor e’er a judge on earth had been.
Since in them men place their trust
Judges should themselves be just,
Not issue judgements in their court
Corruptly that are good for naught;
Observe the law, be diligent,
Not lazy, nor prove negligent
Nor covetous, nor deceitful, if
They’d do right by every plaintiff.
But they hawk judgements around,
And turn the process upside down,
Count, recount, and tally, each day,
Then make sure that poor men pay.
All strive to gain from some other;
Such judges will condemn a robber,
Yet would deserve to hang instead,
If judgement were upon their head,
For all the ills that they conceive,
And wield their power to achieve.’
The End of Part I of the Romance of the Rose Continuation