Page images
PDF
EPUB

II.

ON THE DEATH OF K. EDWARD

THE FIRST.

We have here an early attempt at Elegy. EDWARD I. died July 7, 1307, in the 35th year of his reign, and 69th of his age. This poem appears to have been composed soon after his death. According to the modes of thinking pecue liar to those times, the writer dwells more upon his devotion, than his skill in government, and pays lefs attention to the martial and political abilities of this great monarch, in which he had no equal, than to some little weaknesses of fuperftition, which be had in common with all his cotemporaries. The king had in the decline of life vowed an expedition to the holy land, but finding his end approach, be dedi'cated the sum of 32,000l. to the maintenance of a large body of knights (140 fay historians, 80 says our poet), who were

his heart with them into Palestine. This dying come mand of the king was never performed. Our poet, with the bonest prejudices of an Englishman, attributes this failure to the advice of the king of France, whose daughter Isabel, they

e young monarch, who succeeded, immediately married. But abe truth is, Edward and his destructive favourite Piers Gaveston spent the money upon their pleasures. To do the greater honour to the memory of his beroe, cur poet puts bis cloge in the mouth of the Pope, with the same poetic licence, as a more modern bard would have introduced Britannia, or the Genius of Europe pouring forth his praises.

This antique" Elegy is extracted from the same MS. volume as the preceding article; is found with the same pe.

B 4

culiarities

to carry

culiarities of writing and orthography; and tho' written at near the distance of half a century contains little or no variation of idiom: whereas the next following poem by Chaucer, which was probably written not more than 50 or 60 years after this, exhibits almost a new language. This foems to countenance the opinion of some antiquaries, that this great poet made considerable innovations in his mother tongue, and introduced many terms, and new modes of Speech from other languages.

ALLE, that beoth of huerte trewe,

A founde herkneth to my song
Of duel, that Deth hath diht us newe,

That maketh me fyke, ant sorewe among;
Of a knyht, that wes so strong,
Of wham God hath don

ys

wille;
Me thuncheth that deth hath don us wrong,

That he fo fone (all ligge fille.

[ocr errors][merged small]

Al Englond ahte for te knowe

Of wham that song is, that y fynge ;
Of Edward kyng, that lith fo lowe,

Zent al this world is nome con springe:
Trewest mon of alle thinge,

Ant in werre war ant wys,
For him we ahte

hte oure honden wrynge,
Of Christendome he ber the prys.

IS

Byfore that oure kyng was ded,

He spek ase mon that wes in care,
" Clerkes, knyhtes, barons, he fayde,

“ Y charge ou by oure sware,

20

B4

66 That

“ That ye to Engelonde be trewe.

• Y deze, y ne may lyven na more ;
“ Helpeth mi sone, ant crouneth him newe,

66 For he is nest to buen y-core.

6 Ich biqueth myn herte arhyt,

6. That hit be write at mi devys, 66 Over the see that Hue * be diht,

“ With fourscore knyhtes al of prys,
66 In werre that buen war ant wys,

“ Azein the hethene for te fyhte,
“ To wynne the croiz that lowe lys,

“ Myself ycholde zef that y myhte."

30

35

Kyng of Fraunce, thou hevedeft ' finne,'

That thou the counfail woldest fonde,
To latte the wille of • Edward kyng'

To wende to the holy londe:
That oure kyng hede take on honde

All Engelond to zeme ant wyfle,
To wenden in to the holy londe

To wynnen us heveriche bliffe.

40

The messager to the pope com,

And seyde that our kynge was ded:
Ys oune hond the lettre he nom,

Ywis his herte was full gret:

The name of the person who was to preside over this business. Ver. 33. sunne. MS. Ver. 35 kyng Edward. MS. Ver. 43. ys is probably a contraction of in hys or yn his.

The

45

The Pope him self the lettre redde,

Ant spec a word of gret honour. « Alas! he seid, is Edward dedi

5. Of Christendome he ber the flour.”

The Pope to is chaumbre wende,

For dol ne mihte he speke na more; Ant after cardinals he sende,

That muche couthen of Cristes lore, Bothe the lasse, ant eke the more,

Bed hem bothe rede ant synge: Gret deol me myhte se thore,

Mony mon is honde wryoge.

55

60

The Pope of Peyters stod at is masse

With ful gret folempnete, Ther me con the foule blesse:

“Kyng Edward honoured thou be: 6 God love thi fone come after they

“ Bringe to ende that thou hast bygonno, 66. The holy crois y-mad of tre,

66 So fain thou woldest hit hav y-wonne.

65

Jerusalem, thou hast i-lore

66 The flour of al chivalrie “ Now kyng Edward liveth na more:

" Alas! that he zet fhulde deye!

Ver. 55. 59. Me, i. e. Men. fo in Robert of Gloucester paflim.

". He wolde ha rered up ful heyze

“Oure banners, that bueth broht to grounde ; " Wel! longe we mowe clepe and crie

“ Er we a such kyng han y-founde."

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][merged small]

Nou is Edward of Carnarvan

King of Engelond al aplyht,
God lete him ner be worse man

Then his fader, ne laffe of myht,
To holden is pore men to ryht,

And underfonde good counsail,
Al Engelong for to wyse ant dyht;

Of gode knyhtes darh him nout fail.

80

Thah mi tonge were mad of stel,

Ant min herte yzote of bras,
The godness myht y never telle,

That with kyng Edward was:
Kyng, as thou art cleped conquerour,

In uch bataille thou hadeft prys;
God bringe thi soule to the honour,

That ever wes, ant ever ys.

85

Here follow in the original three lines more, which, as seemingly redundant, we chuse to throw to the bottom of ebe Page, viz.

That lasteth ay withouten ende,

Bidde we God, ant oure Ledy to thilke bliffe Jesus us fende. Amen.

III. AN

« PreviousContinue »