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Hermes BirdBack to English alchemical verse .
Problemis of olde likenes and fuguris,
Wych proved byn fructuos of sentens;
And have auctorite grounded in Scripture,
By resemblaunce of notabil apperence;
Wych moralites concludyng on prudence:
Lyke as the Bibel reherseth be wryting,
How Trees sum tyme chese hemselfe a King.
2. First in theyre choise they namyd the Olyve
To regne among hem, Iudicium doth expres;
But he hymselfe can excuse hym blyue,
He myght not foresake hys fatnes:
Nor the Fig-tree hys amorus swetnes:
Nor the Vyne hys holsum fresche terrage:
Wych gyveth comfort to all manner of age.
3. And sembleabil Poyetes laureat,
By derke parables full convenient;
Feynein that Birdis and Bests of estate,
As rial Egeles and Lyons by assent,
Sent owte writtes to hole a Parlement;
And made degrees brevely for to sey,
Sum to have Lordschip and sum to Obey.
4. Egeles in the Eyre hyghest take theyre flyght,
Power of Lyons on the growne ys sene;
Cedre amonge Trees highest ys of sight,
And the Laurer of nature ys ever grene,
Of flowris all Florra Goddes and Quene:
Thus of all thyng ther byn diversites,
Sum of estate and sum of lower degres.
5. Poyetys write wonderfull lyknes,
And Covert kepe hemselfe full clos;
They take Bestes and Fowles to witnes:
Of whos feynyng Fabelis furst a ros,
And here I cast unto my purpos,
Owte of the Frensche a tale transcelate,
Whych in a Pamphlet I red and saw as I sate.
6. Thys Tale wych y make of mencion,
In gros reherseth playnely to declare,
Thre Proverbys payed for raunsome
Of a fayre Byrde that was take in a snare,
Wonder desirus to scape owte of hir care:
Of myne Auctor followyng the prosses,
So as it fel in Order y schall expres.
7. Whilom ther was in a small vilage,
As my Auctor maketh rehesal;
A Chorle the wich had lust and gret corage,
Within hymselfe by hys deligent travel,
To array hys Garden with notabil reparel:
Oflenght and brede y lyche square and long,
Heggyd and dychyd to make yt sure and strong.
8. All the Aleys made playne with Sande,
Benches coverid with new Turves grene,
Set Erbes with Condites at the ende;
That wellid up agen the Sun schene,
Lyke Silver stremys as any cristal clene:
The burbely Waves up ther on boylyng,
Rownde as Beral theyr bemys owte chedyng.
9. Mides the Garden stode a fresh Lawrer,
Ther on a Byrde syngyng both day and night;
With shinyng federis brighter then Gold weer,
Wych wyth hir song made hevy hertis lyght;
For to behold hit was an hevenly syght:
How towerd evyn and in the dawnyng,
Sche dyd her payne most ameus to syng.
10. Esperus enforced hyr corage,
Towerd evyn when Phebus went to nest;
Amonges the braunches to hir avauntage:
To syng hir complyn as yt was best,
And at the rysyng to the Quene Alcest
To syng ageyne as hit was to hir dew,
Erly on the morrow the day-fter to [falew].
11. Hit was a very hevenly melody,
Evyn and Morne to her the Byrd song;
And the [sote] sugeryd Armony:
Of uncoud Warbelis and twenes drew along,
That al the Garden of the noyse rong:
Tyll on a morow that Tytan schone ful cler,
The Byrd was trapped and cawt in a Panter.
12. The Chorle was glad that he thys Byrd hath take
Mere of cher loke and of visage:
And in all hast he cast for to make
Within hys howse a lytil prati Cage,
And with hir songto rejoyce hys corage:
And with at the last the sely Byrd abrayede,
And sobirly to the Chorle sche sayde:
13. I am now take and stond under daunger,
Hold streyte that y may not fle;
Adew my song and al my notes cler,
Now that y have lost my liberte,
Now y am thrall and sumtyme was fre:
And trust wel y stand in distres,
Y can nat syng ne make no gladnes.
14. And thogh my Cage forged were of Gold
And the penacles of Beral and Cristal:
Y remember a Proverbe sayde of olde;
Who lisit hys fredom in sooth he ys in thral,
For me had laver upon a brance smale,
Merle to syng amonge the wodis grene,
Than in a Cage of Golde bryght and chene.
15. Songe and Presun have no acordaunce,
Trowys thow y wyl syng in Presun,
Song procedet of joy and in plesaunce;
And Presun causeth deth and destruction,
Ryngyng of Feteris maketh no mere [sown];
Or how schoulde he be glad and jocownde,
Ageyn hys wil that lyth in cheynys bownde.
16. What avayleth a Lyon to be Kyng of Bestes
Fast schut in a Tower of ston alone;
Or an Egell under stryte cheynys,
Called also the Kyng of Fowlys everichon,
Fy on Lordschyp than Liberte ys gon:
Answer herto and hit nat a start,
Who syngeth mere that syngeth not with hert.
17. If thow wilt rejoyce the of my syngyng,
Let me go fleen fre fro dawnger:
And everyday in the mornyng
Y will repayre to thy Lawrer,
And fressely to syng with notis cler;
Under thi Chaumber or afore thy Hal,
Every season when thow lyst me cal.
18. To be schut and pyned under drede,
No thyng acordyng to my nature:
Though I were fed with Mylke and Wastelbrede;
And swete Crudis brought to my pasture,
Yet had y lever do my bese cure:
Erly in the morow to scrape in the Vale,
To fynde my dener amongs the Wormys smale.
19. The Laborer ys gladder at hys Plough,
Erly on the morrow to fede hym on bakon:
Then sum ben that have tresour y nowgh;
And no fredom with hys pocession;
To go at large but as Bere at the stake,
To pas hys bonde but yf he leve take.
20. Take thys answer ful for conclusion,
To synge in prison thow schalt not me constreyne:
Tyll y have fredom in woddis up and downe:
To fle at large on bowys both rough and plaine,
And of reson thow schuldest not disdeyn:
Of my desyre but laugh and have good game,
But who ys a Chorle wold every man wer the same.
21. Well quod the Chorle sith hit woll not be,
That y dsyre by my talkyng;
Magre thy wyll thow schalt chefe on of thre:
Within a Cage merele to syng,
Or to the Kychyn y schall thy bode brynge:
Pul thy federis that byn so bryght and clere,
And after rost or bake the to my dynere.
22. The quod the Byrde to resson y sey not ney,
Towching my song a ful answer thow hast:
And when my federis pulled byn awey,
If y be rosted or bake in a past,
Thow schalt of me hve a smal repaste:
But yf thow wylt werke by my councel,
Thow mayst by me have gret avayle.
23. If thow wolt to my rede assent,
And suffer me go frele fro Preson:
Witowte raunsom or any oder rent;
Y schall the gyf a notabil grete gwerdon,
The thre grete Wysdoms acording to reson;
Mor of valew, take hede what y profer,
Than al the Gold that ys shet in thy Cofer.
24. Trust me wel y schal the not deceyve.
Well quod the Chorle tel and let se:
Nay quod the Byrde a forne conseyve;
Who schal teche of Reson he most go fre,
Hit fitteth a Master to have his Liberte:
And at large to teche hys lesson,
Hafe me not suspecte y mene no treson.
25. Wel quod the Chorle y holde me content,
Y trust the promys which thow hast made to me;
The Byrde fle forth the Chorle was of sent:
And toke hys flight up to the Lawrer tre,
Then thought sche thus now that y stand fre:
With snaris panters y cast not al my lyve,
Nor wyth no lyme twygges no more to strive.
26. He ys a Fole that schaped ys daungere,
That broke hys feteris and fled ys fro Preson,
For to resort agene: for brente childe dreds fyre:
Eche man bewar of Wisdom and reson,
Of suger strawed that hideth false poyson;
Ther ys no venom so perilus in scherpnes,
As whan yt hath triakcle of lyknes.
27. Who dredeth no perell in perell he schal falle,
Smothe Waters byn of fithes depe:
The Quayle pipe can most falsely calle;
Tyl the Quayle under the net doth crepe;
A bleryed Fowler trust not thogh he wepe:
Exchew hys thumble, of weping take no hede,
That small Byrds can nyp by the hede.
28. And now that y such a daunger am scaped,
Y wyl bewar and afore provide:
That of no Fowlar y wil no more be Japed,
From theyre lyme twygges to fly far asyde,
There perel ys perel to abyde:
Com ner thow Chorle, take hede to my speche;
Of thre Wysdomys that y schal the teche.
29. Yes not of Wysdom to hasty credness,
To every Tale nor eche tyding:
But consyder of Reson and Prudens;
Among Talys ys many a grete lesyng,
Hasty credens hath cawsed grete hynderyng:
Report of talis and tydyngys brought up new,
Maketh many a man ful on trew.
30. For on party take thys for my Raunsom,
Lerne the second grownded of scripture:
Desyre thow not by no condicion
Thyng that ys ympossybyl to recure,
Worldly desyres stante alle in a venture:
And who desyreth to soare hygh a lofte,
Oft tyme by foden turne he falleth on softe.
31. The thyrd is thys, bewar both even and morrow,
Forget yt nought but lerne thys of me:
For Tresor lost, make never to grete Sorrow;
Wych in no wyfe may not be recovered be,
For who that taketh sorrow for loss in that degree:
Reken fyrst hys losse, and after reken hys peyne,
Of one sorrow he maketh Sorrowys twenyne.
32. Aftur thys Lesson the Byrde began a songe,
Of hyr ascape gretely rejoycyng
And sche remembered hyr alleso of the wronge
Don by the Chorle, fyrst at hyr takyng,
And of the affray, and of hyr impresonyng:
Glad that sche was a large and owte of drede,
Seyde unto hym hoveryng above hys hede,
33. Thow were quod sche a very natural Fole
To suffer me departe of thy lewdnes:
Throw owthtys of right to complaine and make dole,
And in thy hert have gret hevenes,
That thow hast lost so passyng grete riches:
Wych myght suffice by valew in rekeyng
To pay the raunsom of a mighty Kyng.
34. Ther ys a Stone wych ys called Fagownce,
Of olde engendered within myne entrayle:
Wych of fyne Golde poyseth a grete unce;
Setryne of Colors lyke Garnetis of entayle,
Wych makyth men victorius in batayle;
And who that bereth on hym thys Stone,
Ys ful asured ageyne hys mortal Fone.
35. Who hath thys in poscession,
Schal suffer no Povert ne non Indygens:
But of Tresour have plente and foyson,
And every Man schal don hym reverence,
And non Enemy schal don hym non offence;
But from thi hondes now that I am gone,
Pleyne gyf thow wilt for thy parte ys none.
36. As y the abrayde her before,
Of a stone now that I had:
The wych now thow hast forelore;
Be all refon thow schuld ys ben sad,
And in thi hert nothyng glad:
Now Chorle y the tel in my device,
I was eyred and bred in swite Paradyce.
37. Now mo namys y schal the tel,
Of my stone that y cal Fagownce:
And of hys vertuis with hys smel;
That ben so swete and so odferus,
Wyth Ennock and Ely hath be my servis:
My swete songe that sowndeth so scherpe,
Wyth Angelles voyse that passeth eny harpe.
38. The nigrum deamond that ys in Morienis sees
And the white Charbonkkel that rolleth in wave;
The setryne Reby of rych degrees:
That passeth the stonys of comen sawe,
In the Lapidery ys grown by olde lawe;
He passeth all stonys that ys under hevyn,
After the cowrse of kynde by the Planets sevyn.
39. Hyt ys for none Chorle to have schuch tresour,
That exsedeth alle Stonys in the lapidery:
And of alle vertuis he bereth the flowr,
Wyth all joy and grace yt maketh man mery,
That in thys worlde schal never byn [sory];
Now very Chorle thow passeth thy gras,
Y am at my leberte even as I was.
40. As Clerkys fyndeth in the Bybell,
At paradys yatis whan he was cast;
By an Angel both fayr and styll,
A downe Kyng Elysawnder ther I threst,
And of all stonys yt was y lest;
Soche stonys in place few ben y brought,
Soroful ys the Chorle and heavy in hys thowte.
41. Now more Chorle yt tel y can,
And thow wolt to me take hede:
The Byrde of Ermes ys my name,
In all the worlde that ys so wyde,
Wyth gletering of grace by every syde,
Hose me myght have in hys covertowr,
He wer rychcher than eny Emperowr.
42. Elysawnder the conquerowr my Ston smot downe
Upon hys helme whan hyt pyght:
No mor then a pese that ys so rownde,
Hyt was ther to no manys fyght,
That leyde fo pleyne the manly Knyght;
Now y tel the wyth melde Stevyn,
Thys myghty grace cam owte fro hevyn.
43. Hit cawseth Love and maketh man Gracius,
And favorabel in ever mannes fyght:
Hit maketh acorde of two Folks envyus;
Comforteth Sorowful and maketh hevy herts lyght,
Lyke passyng of colur Sunny bright:
Y am a fole to tel the at onys,
Or to teche a Chorle the pryce of precious Stonys.
44. Men schalle not put a precius Margareyt,
As Rubeys, Saferys, and odther Stonys ynde;
Emeraudys, nor rownde Perlys whyte,
Byfore rude Swyne that love draffe of kinde:
For a Sowe delyteth hyr as y fynde
Mor in fowle draffe hyr Pygges for to glad,
Than al the Perry that comes owte of Granade.
45. Heche thyng drawes to hys semblable,
Fysshes in the See, Bestys on the Stronde;
The Eyr for Fowlys ys Commendabyl,
To the Plowghman for to tyll hys Londe,
And to a Chorle a Muk-forke in hys honde.
Y lese my tyme eny more to tare
To tell the bewar of the Lapidare.
46. That thow haddest thow getyst no more,
Thi Lyme twygges and Panters y defie;
To let me gon thow were fowle over seen,
To lese the richches only of [solye]:
Y am now fre to syng man to fle
Wher that my list: and he is a Fole at all
That goth at large, and maketh hymselfe thrall.
47. To here of Wisdome thi neres be halfe defe,
Like a [Nasse] that lysteth upon a Harpe;
Thow must go pype in a Ive leffe:
Better ys to me to syng on Thornes scharpe,
Than in a Cage wyth a Chorle to carpe:
For hyt was seyd of Folks many yere agone,
A Chorles Chorle is oft woe be gone.
48. Now Chorle y have the her tolde,
My vertuys her wyth grete experience;
Hyt were to sume man better than Golde;
To the yt ys no fructius a sentence,
As Chepys Croke to the ys better than a Launce:
Adew now Globbe wyth herte fore,
In Chorles clowchys com y never more.
49. The Chorle felt hys herte part in twenyne,
For very sorow and in sunder ryve:
Alas quod he y may wel wepe and pleyne;
As a wreche never lyke to thryve,
But for to indure in povert all my lyve:
For of foly and wylfulness,
Y have now lost all holy my ryches.
50. I was a Lorde y crye owte on Fortune,
And had grete Tresor late in my keeping;
Wych myght heve made me long to continue;
Wyth that ilke Stone to have levyd a Kyng,
Yf y had set hyt in a Ryng:
Borne it upon me y had gode y nowe,
Than schuld y no mor have gon to the plowe.
51. Whan the Byrde saw the Chorle thus morne,
That he was hevy of hys cherem
Sche take her flyght and agayne return:
Towards hym and sayd as ye schal here,
O dull Chorle wisdom for to lere;
That y the taute all ys lefe behynde,
Reysed awey and clene owte of thy meynde.
52. Taw tey the not thys Wysdome in sentens,
To every tale brought up of new,
Not to hastyle gyf not ther to credens;
Unto tyme thow know hit be trew,
All ys not Gold that scheweth Goldys hew:
Nor stonys all by nature as y finde,
Byn not Saferus that schewyth colour ynde.
53. In thys Doctryne y lost my labour,
To teche the such Proverbys of substaunce;
Now mayst thow see thy lewd blynde error;
For all my body poysed in Balans,
Weyth not a nounce lewdw ys thi remembraunce;
Yet have y mor poyse closyd in myne entrayle,
Than all my Body set for Countervayle.
54. All my Body weyth not an unce,
How myght y have then in me a ston:
That poyseth mor than doth a grete Fagounce:
Thy brayne ys dull thi witte almost gon,
Of hre Wysdoms thow hast lost on;
Thow schulds not after my sentence,
To every tale gese to hastyly credence.
55. I badde also bewar both even and morrowe,
For thynge lost by suden adventur;
Thow schulds not make to moche sorow;
Whan thow seyst thow mayst not hit recover,
Her thow sayest wych doth thy besy cure;
In the snare to catch me agayne,
Thow art a Fole thy labor ys in vayne.
56. In the thyrde aslo thow dost rave,
Y bad thow schulds in no manner wise
Covet thyng the wych thow mayst not have,
In wych thow hast fogetyn myne empryse,
Thaty may say playnly to devyse,
Thow hast in madnes forget yn all thre,
Notabyl Wysdomys that y taute the.
57. Hit wer but foly mor wyth the to carpe,
Or to teche of Wysdomys mor or lesse;
Y holde hym madde that bryngs forth hys Harpe,
Theron to teche a rode for dollyd Asse,
And mad ys he that syngyth a Fole a Masse:
And he ys most madd that doth hys besynesse,
To teche a Chorle the termys of Gentlenesse.
58. And semeblabilly in Apryll and in May,
Whan gentyl Byrds most make melody;
But the Cockow can syng butoo lay;
In odthir tewnys sche hath no fantesy:
Thus every thyng as Clerks do specify;
As Frute on the Trees, and Folke of every age,
Fro whense they come they have a tallage.
59. The Wynter tretyth of hys Welsom wyndys,
Of the gentyll Frute bostys the Gardener;
The Fysher castyth hys hokys and hys lynys,
To catche Fysshe in the fresh Revyr,
Of tyllyth of Londe tretyth the powre;
The Gentylman tretyth of Gentry,
The Chorle delytith to speke rebawdry.
60. All on to a Faucon and a Kyte,
As good an Owle as a Popyngay;
A dunghyll Douke as deyntieth as a Snyte,
Who servys a Chorle hase many a wofull day,
Y cast me never her after mor with the play;
To fore Chorle any more to syng,
Of Wysdom to carpe in my lyfyng.
61. The Folke that schall thys Fabyl se and rede,
New Forged Talys y councel them to fle
For lesse of Good take not to grete hede,
But not Sorowfull for noon adversyte;
Covet not thyng that may not be,
And remember wher ye goan,
A Chorlys Chorle ys ofte wo begon.
62. Unto purpose thys Proverbe ys ful ryve,
Redde and reported by olde remembraunce:
A Chylds Byrde, and a Chorlys Wyfe,
Hath ofte sythys sorrow and mischaunce.
Who hath Fredom hath sufficiaunce:
Better ys Freedom wyth lytle in gladnes,
Than to be a Chorle wyth all worldly rychches.
63. Go lytyl Quiar and rcommaunde me
To my Mayster wyth humbyl affeccyon,
Be sekyng hym lowly of mersy and pete
Of thys rude makyng to ha compassion:
And towchyng thys Translacyon
Owte of the Frenshe, how so ever the Englyshe be,
All thyng ys sayd under correccyon,
Wyth supportation of yowr benygnite.
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