Regiment of Princes
Musynge upon the restlees bysynesse
Which that this troubly world hath ay on honde,
That othir thyng than fruyt of bittirnesse
Ne yildith naght, as I can undirstonde,
At Chestres In, right faste by the Stronde,
As I lay in my bed upon a nyght,
Thoght me byrefte of sleep the force and might.
And many a day and nyght that wikkid hyne
Hadde beforn vexed my poore goost
So grevously that of angwissh and pyne
No rycher man was nowhere in no coost.
This dar I seyn, may no wight make his boost
That he with thoght was bet than I aqweynted,
For to the deeth he wel ny hath me feynted.
Bysyly in my mynde I gan revolve
The welthe unseur of every creature,
How lightly that Fortune it can dissolve
Whan that hir list that it no lenger dure;
And of the brotilnesse of hir nature
My tremblynge herte so greet gastnesse hadde
That my spirites were of my lyf sadde.
Me fil to mynde how that nat longe agoo
Fortunes strook doun thraste estat rial
Into mescheef, and I took heede also
Of many anothir lord that hadde a fal.
In mene estat eek sikirnesse at al
Ne saw I noon, but I sy atte laste
Wher seuretee for to abyde hir caste.
In poore estat shee pighte hir pavyloun
To kevere hir fro the storm of descendynge
For shee kneew no lower descencion
Sauf oonly deeth, fro which no wight lyvynge
Deffende him may; and thus in my musynge
I destitut was of joie and good hope,
And to myn ese nothyng cowde I grope.
For right as blyve ran it in my thoght,
Thogh poore I be, yit sumwhat leese I may.
Than deemed I that seurtee wolde noght
With me abyde; it is nat to hir pay
Ther to sojourne as shee descende may.
And thus unsikir of my smal lyflode,
Thoght leide on me ful many an hevy lode.
I thoghte eek, if I into povert creepe,
Than am I entred into sikirnesse;
But swich seurtee mighte I ay waille and weepe,
For povert breedith naght but hevynesse.
Allas, wher is this worldes stablenesse?
Heer up, heer doun; heer honour, heer repreef;
Now hool, now seek; now bountee, now mescheef.
And whan I hadde rollid up and doun
This worldes stormy wawes in my mynde,
I sy wel povert was exclusioun
Of al welfare regnynge in mankynde;
And how in bookes thus writen I fynde,
"The werste kynde of wrecchidnesse is
A man to han be weleful or this."
Allas, thoghte I, what sikirnesse is that
To lyve ay seur of greef and of nusance?
What shal I do? Best is I stryve nat
Ageyn the peys of Fortunes balance,
For wel I woot that hir brotil constance
A wight no whyle souffre can sojourne
In o plyt; thus nat wiste I how to tourne.
For whan man weeneth stonde moost constant,
Thanne is he nexte to his overthrowynge;
So flittynge is shee and so variant,
Ther is no trust upon hir fair lawhynge;
Aftir glad look, shee shapith hir to stynge.
I was adrad so of hir gerynesse
That my lyf was but a deedly gladnesse.
This ilke nyght I walwid to and fro
Seekynge reste, but certeynly shee
Appeerid nat, for thoght, my cruel fo,
Chaced had hir and sleep away fro me.
And for I sholde nat allone be,
Ageyn my lust wach proferred his servyse,
And I admittid him in hevy wyse.
So long a nyght ne felte I nevere noon
As was that same, to my jugement.
Whoso that thoghty is, is wo begoon;
The thoghtful wight is vessel of torment;
Ther nis no greef to him equipollent.
He graveth deepest of seeknesses alle:
Ful wo is him that in swich thoght is falle.
What wight that inly pensyf is, I trowe,
His moost desir is to be solitarie.
That this is sooth, in my persone I knowe,
For evere whyl that fretynge adversarie
Myn herte made to him tributarie
In sowkynge of the fressheste of my blood;
To sorwe soul me thoghte it dide me good.
For the nature of hevynesse is this:
If it habownde greetly in a wight,
The place eschueth he whereas joie is,
For joie and he nat mowe accorde aright.
As discordant as day is unto nyght,
And honour adversarie is unto shame,
Is hevynesse so to joie and game.
Whan to the thoghtful wight is told a tale,
He heerith it as thogh he thennes were;
His hevy thoghtes him so plukke and hale
Hidir and thidir, and him greeve and dere,
That his eres availle him nat a pere;
He undirstandith nothyng what men seye,
So been his wittes fer goon hem to pleye.
The smert of thoght I by experience
Knowe as wel as any man dooth lyvynge.
His frosty swoot and fyry hoot fervence,
And troubly dremes drempt al in wakynge,
My mazid heed sleeplees han of konnynge
And wit despoillid, and so me bejapid
That aftir deeth ful often have I gapid.
Passe over; whan this stormy nyght was goon
And day gan at my wyndowe in to prye,
I roos me up, for boote fond I noon
In myn unresty bed lenger to lye.
Into the feeld I dressid me in hye,
And in my wo I herte-deep gan wade,
As he that was bareyne of thoghtes glade.
By that I walkid hadde a certeyn tyme,
Were it an hour I not, or more or lesse,
A poore old hoor man cam walkynge by me,
And seide, "Good day, sire, and God yow blesse!"
But I no word, for my seekly distresse
Forbad myn eres usen hir office,
For which this old man heeld me lewde and nyce,
Til he took heede to my drery cheere,
And to my deedly colour pale and wan.
Than thoghte he thus: "This man that I see heere
Al wrong is wrestid, by aght I see can."
He stirte unto me and seide, "Sleepstow, man?
Awake!" and gan me shake wondir faste,
And with a sigh I answerde atte laste:
Specific place (Chester Inn) and time creates narrative context of entering dream.
Recollection of past duration starts to merge past and present times, acting as a descriptive tool of thought processes.
Remembers Richard II's fall, setting political time of narrative.
To emphasise transitory nature of secular fortune
Authenticating strategy of narrative voice
Links back to opening of narrative, bringing reader into presence of the narrative moment that is a recollection
Narrator's inability to sleep, due to dream setting
of the temporal hoursSpeech on opposites, as narrator wants solitude not joy, analogy to discordant relationship between night and day
Narrative return to L 78, the moment after the abstract duration of the night