Here is a comparison of the text that William Dugdale published in 1658, with the one that Richard Tottel had printed 104 years earlier i 1554.
The two texts are quite similar. This may not be evident from the below comparison, but that's because Tottel's text has been edited by Henry Bergen in 1923-27, and Bergen has collated Tottel's book with two manuscripts.
In most cases where the comparison shows a difference, there will be a pair of square brackets indicating that Bergen has added text, or an asterisk indicating that Bergen has removed / changed / transposed text. This is particularly evident for the three lines of the lawyer's stanza and the four very last lines, where Bergen has put the lines in the correct sequence, while Dugdale prints them in Tottel's sequence.
There are a number of changes in the spelling, but real differences are few and small. An example is when the Carthusian monk asks God for protection, »Fro Fiendes myght and fro damnacion«, i.e. from the Devil's might, while Dugdale writes: »Fro friends might and fro damnation«. But this doesn't even have to an error, for the Vespasian manuscript has a similar wording: »From frendes might and from damnacyon«.
There's an interesting error in the last verse: »fronm Paris«. Dugdale has presumably wished to change Tottel's "from" into "froum", but as often happens, the printer has confounded "u" with "n". The revealing part is that later editions, 1673, 1718 and Douce also write "fronm". In the 1818-edition the word has been corrected to "froum".
In this comparison we ignore punctuation, accents, capitalization, double letters, final e's (and e before final s) and differences caused by interchange of aun/an and cion/cyon/tion. The verses are presented in the same sequence as Tottel and Dugdale used, which is a bit different from La Danse Macabre of Paris and from the Ellesmere manuscript.
Deletions are marked in red
and in :
In other words, the red words are from Tottel (as edited by Bergen).
O YE folkes hard hearted as a stone,
this worlde geue* al your aduertence,
Lyke as it should euer lasten in one,
Where is your wit, where is your prouidence
To seen aforne the sodayn violence
Of cruel death, that be so wyse and sage,
Which slayeth, alas, by stroke or pestilence
yong & olde of lowe and high parage?
Death spareth nought low ne high degre,
Popes, kynges, ne worthye Emperours;
Whan they shine most in felicite.
He can abate the freshnes of her flours,
Her bright[e] sunne clipsen with his shours,
Make them plunge fro her sees lowe;
Mauger the might of al these conquerours,
Fortune hath them from her whele ythrow.
Considereth this, ye folkes that been wyse,
emprinteth in your memoriall,
Like thensample which that at Parise
I fonde depict ones
vppon* a wal
Full notably, as I rehearse shall.
Of a Frenche
clarke takyng acquaintaunce,
I toke on me to translaten all
Out of the Frenche Machabrees daunce.
By whose aduise and counsayle at the
Through her stieryng and her mocion,
I obeyed vnto her request,
Therof to make a playn translacion
In English tonge, of entencion
That proud[e] folkes that bene stout and bolde,
As in a mirrour toforne in her reason
Her vgly fine there
clearely may beholde.
[this] ensample, that thei in her ententes
Amend her life in euery maner age.
The which[e] daunce at
Portrayed is, with all the surplusage,
Youen vnto vs our liues to correct
And to declare the fine of our passage,
Right anone my stile I wil direct
To shewe this worlde is but a pilgrimage.
The ende of the Prologe.
The Wordes of the
O CREATURES ye that bene reasonable,
The life desiring which is eternall,
Ye may sen here doctrine ful notable
Your life to lead[e], which that is mortall,
Thereby to learne in
How ye shal trace the daunce of Machabree,
To man and woman ylike naturall;
For death ne spareth high ne lowe degree.
In this myrour euery wight may fynde,
That him behoueth to gone vpon this daunce.
Who goeth toforne or who shall go behynde,
All dependeth in Goddes ordinaunce.
Wherfore eche man lowly take* his chaunce;
nouther poore ne* bloud royall:
Eche* man therfore haue this in remembraunce.
Of oo matter God hath yforged all.
The Daunce of Machabree.
Death fyrst speaketh vnto the Pope, and after to euery degree as foloweth.
YE that been set most high
Of al estates in earth spirituall,
to* Peter hath the soueraintee
Ouer the church and states temporall,
Vpon this daunce ye first begin[ne] shall,
As most worthy lord and gouernour;
For al the worship of your estate papall.
[al] lordship to God is the honour.
The Pope maketh aunswere.
FYRST me behoueth this daunce for to lede,
Which sat in earth[e] highest in my see.
The state ful perilous,
whoso taketh hede.
Seynt Petris* dignitee;
But for al that
[fro] Death I may not flee,
Vpon* this daunce with other for to trace;
For which al
honor, who prudently can see.
Is litle worth that doth so soone passe.
Death speaketh to the Emperour.
SYR Emperour, lord of al the grounde,
[Most] souereine prince, surmountyng* of noblesse,
Ye mot forsake of gold your apple round.
Scepter and swerde, & al your high prowesse;
you leue* your treasour and* riches,
And with other to my daunce obey:
Against my might is worth none hardines,
Adams children al they must[e] deye.
The Emperour maketh aunswer.
I NOTE to whom that I may
Touching death, which doth me so constrein;
There is no gin to helpen my querel,
But spade and pickoys my graue to atteyne,
A simple shete, there is
nomore to seyn,
To wrappen in my body and visage:
And therupon I may me sore* compleyne,
great haue litle auauntage.
Death speaketh to the Cardinal.
YE been abashed, it semeth, and in drede,
Syr Cardinal, it sheweth by your chere;
for thy ye folowe shall in dede,
With other folke my daunce for to lere.
Your great aray, al shal
[ye] leauen here,
Your hat of red, your vesture of great coste;
All these thynges reckoned well in
In great[e] honour good auyse is loste.
The Cardinall maketh aunswere.
I HAUE great cause, certes this is no faile
To be abashed and greatly dread[e] me,
Sith Death is come me sodainly
That I shall neuer hereafter clothed be
In grise nor ermine like vnto my degree,
Mine hat of red leuen eke in distresse,
By which I haue
conceyued* wel and see
worldly* ioye endeth in heauines.
Death speaketh to the Kyng.
O NOBLE Kyng, most worthy of renoun,
Come foorth anone, for al your worthines
That whylom had about you enuiron
Great royaltie and passing hye noblesse.
But right anon
[for] al your great highnes,
Sole from your men in hast ye shall it lete,
Who most aboundeth here in great riches,
Shall beare with hym but a
The Kyng maketh aunswere.
I HAUE nought
learned here toforn to daunce
in sooth of footyng so sauage,
Where through I se by clere demonstraunce,
What pride is worth or force of high linage!
fordo[e]th, this is his vsage,
Great and smal that in this world soiourne:
Who is most meke, I hold[e] hym most sage;
For we shall all to
dede* ashes tourne.
Death speaketh to the Patriarche.
SYR Patriarche, al your humble chere
Ne quiteth you nought nor your humilitie;
Your double crosse of gold and stones clere,
Your power whole and al your dignitie
Some other shall of very equitie
Possede anon, as I rehearse can:
Trusteth neuer that ye shall Pope be;
foly* hope deceiueth many a man!
The Patriarche maketh aunswere.
WORLDLY honour, gret
treasour & riches
Haue me deceiued soothfastly
Mine old[e] ioyes been turned
What auayleth such
treasours to possede?
Hie clymbyng* vp a fall hath for his mede.
Great estates folke wasten out of number;
Who mounteth high, it is sure and no drede,
burden doth hym oft encomber.
Death speaketh to the
IT is my ryght to arest you and constreyne
With vs to daunce, my
mayster Sir Cunstable!
For more stronger than euer was Charlemain,
Death hath afforced, and more worshipable;
hardines ne knighthode, this no* fable.
Nor strong armure of plates
ne* of maile,
What gayneth armes of
folkes most notable,
Whan cruell death list hem* to assayle?
Cunstable maketh aunswere.
MY purpose was and whole
castel[le]s & mighty fortresses.
And bryng[e] folke vnto subieccion.
To seke honour, fame, and great richesses;
But I see that al worldly prowesse
Death can abate, which is a great despite;
To him alone, sorow and eke
For agaynst death is found[e] no respite.
Death speaketh to the Archebishop,
SYR Archebishop, why do
ye you withdrawe
So frowardly, as it wer by disdayne?
approche [vn] to my mortall lawe;
contrary it wer but* in vayne:
For day by day there is none other gayne.
Death at the hand pursueth euery coast;
Prest and debte mot bee yelde againe,
And at a daye men counten with her host.
The Archebishop maketh aunswere.
ALAS, I wote not what* partie for to flee,
drede of death I haue so gret distres!
Tescape* his might I can no refute see;
That who so knew his
constreint and duresse,
He would[e] take reason to maistresse.
Adue my treasour, my pompe & pride also,
My painted chambers, my port & my freshnes,
Thyng that behoueth nedes mot be do.
Death speaketh to the Barone.
among[es] Lordes and Barons
Haue had so long[e] worship and
Foryet your trumpetes and your clarions;
This is no dreame nor simulacion.
Whylom your custom and entencion
Was with ladies to daunsen in the shade;
But oft it happeth, in conclusion,
One man breaketh that another made.
The Baron maketh aunswere.
FULL oft[e] sith I haue been auctorised
emprises & thinges of gret fame.
Of high & low my thanke also deuised.
Cherished with ladies & women high of name;
Ne neuer on me was put no defame,
In lordes courte,* which that was notable;
But deathes stroke hath made me
Under heauen in earth is nothyng stable.
Death speaketh to the Princesse.
COME forth anon, my Lady good Princesse,
Ye must also gon vpon this daunce.
Nought may auayle your great straungenesse,
Nether your beauty nor your gret pleasaunce,
Your riche aray, nother your daliaunce,
That whylom couth so many holde in hond
In loue, for al your double variaunce.
Ye mot as nowe this footyng vnderstonde.
The Princesse maketh aunswere.
ALAS, I see there is none other boote,
Deth hath in earth no lady nor maistres,
And* on this daunce yet mot I nedes fote:
For there nis quene, countesse ne dutchesse,
Flouring in bountie nor in her
shode of Death mot passe the passage.
When our beautie and counterfeit fairnes
Dieth, adue then our rimpled age!
Death speaketh to the Bishop.
MY Lord Sir Bishop, with miter & crosse.
For al your riches, soothlye I ensure.
For all your
treasour [so longe] kept in closse,
Your worldly goodes and goodes of nature,
[And] of your shepe the ghostly dredeful* cure,
With charge committed to your prelacie.
accoumpt ye shal be brought to lure,
No wight is sure that climbeth ouer hye.
The Bishop maketh aunswere.
truely is nother glad ne mery.
Of sodein tidinges which that ye
My feast is turned
vnto a simple ferye,*
That for discomfort me list nothyng
contrarie now to my* werking.
Which al estates* can so disherite;
He al with halt, alas, at our partyng,
And al* shall passe saue onely our merite.
Death speaketh to the
COMMETH forth Syr Squyer, right fresh of your araye,
That conne of daunces al the new[e] guise,
Thoghe ye bare armes, fresshe horsed yesterday,*
With spere & shielde at your vncouth deuise,
And toke on you so many high emprise,
Daunseth with vs; it wyl no better be;
There is no succour in no maner wyse:
For no man may fro Deathes stroke flee.
Squyer maketh aunswere.
SITHENS that Death me holdeth in his lase,
Yet shal I speake oo worde
or that* I passe:
Adue al myrth, adue now al solace,
Adue my ladies whilom so freshe of face,
Adue beautie, pleasaunce, and al solace!
Of Deathes chaunge euery day is prime,
Thinke on your soules
or* that Death manace;
For all shal rot, and no man wot what time.
Death speaketh to the Abbot.
COMMETH forth Syr Abbot, with your brode hatte,
abashed thogh* ye hauen ryght;
Great is your head, your belly
rounde* and fat,
Ye mot come daunce,
thogh* ye be nothyng light.
Leaueth your abbey to some other wight.
Your heyre is of age your state to occupie;
Who that is fattest, I haue hym behyght,
[Shall] in his graue* soonest putrifie.
The Abbot maketh aunswere.
thy manace I hauen o gret* enuy,
That I shall now leaue al* gouernaunce.
But that I shal as a
This Death is to me passing
My libertie nor my great habundaunce,
What may they
vayle* in any maner wyse?
Yet aske I mercy with
Thogh* in dying to late men them auise.
Death speaketh to the Abbesse.
AND ye my lady, gentle dame Abbesse,
mantel[le]s furred large and wyde,
Your veile, your wimple,
your ryng* of gret riches,
And bedes, sister,
ye mot now leyn a syde;*
For to this daunce I
must be* your guide,
Thogh* ye be tender borne of gentle bloode,
While that ye* liue for your selfe prouide;
For after death[e] no man hath no good.
The Abbesse maketh aunswere.
ALAS that Death hath thus for me
That in no wise I maye it nought declyne.
If it so
be ful oft I am* constreined,
Brest and throte my notes out to twyne,
My chekes round
vernyshed* for to shine,
Ungird ful oft to walken at the large,
Thus cruel Death with al estates fine,
Who hath no shippe must* rowe in bote or barge.
Death speaketh to the Bayly.
COME forth. Sir Bayly, that
knowen all the guise,
By your office of trouth &
Ye must come to a newe assyse,
Extorcions and wronges to redresse;
Ye be somned, as lawe biddeth expresse,
To yeue accomptes the* Iudge wil you charge,
ordeined to excluden al falsnes,
That euery man shal beare his own[e] charge.
The Bayly maketh aunswere.
O THOU Lord God this is a hard iourney,
To which aforne I toke but litle hede;
My chaunce is turned, & that
Whilom with iudges what me list to spede
Lay in my might, by labour oft for mede.
But sith there is no rescus by battayle,
I hold him wise that couth wel seen in dede,
Again[es] Death that none apel may vayle.
Death speaketh to the Astronomer.
Maister, that lookest vp so farre,
With instrumentes of Astronomie
To take the grees and
hyght of euery starre;
What may auaile all your astrologie?
Sith of Adam all the genealogie.
Made first of God to walke vpon the ground,
aresteth;* thus sayth theologie:
And all shall dye for an apple rounde.
The Astronomer maketh aunswere.
FOR all my craft, cunnyng
I can nought find[e] no prouision,
Ne* in the starres seke* no difference
Saue finally, in conclusion,
descriue our cunnyng euery dele:
There is no more by sentence of reason,
Who liueth aryght mot nedes dye well.
Death speaketh to the Burgis.
SYR Burgis, what doe
ye lenger* tarye?
For all your
auoyre and youre great riches,
Thoghe* ye be strong, deinous and contrary.
Toward this daunce ye mot you nedes dresse;
your* treasour, plentie and largesse.
From other it came and shall vnto strangers.
He is a foole that in such busines,
Wot nought for whom he stuffeth his garners!
The Burgis maketh aunswere.
CERTES to me it is great displeasaunce,
To leaue al this & mai it nought assure:
Howses,* rentes, treasor & substaunce,
Death al fordoth, suche is his nature.
Therfore wise is no creature.
That set his heart on good that
The world it lent, the worlde wil it recure;
And who most hath, lothest dyeth euer.
Death speaketh to the
AND ye, Syr Chanon, with many
Ye may no lenger haue distribucion
[and] siluer, largelye to dispende;
For there is nowe no consolacion
But daunce with vs, for al your high
ye of death[e] stonde* vpon the brinke,
therof haue no delacion;
Death commeth ay when men least on him thinke.
The Chanon maketh aunswere.
MY benefice with mony personage,
God wot ful lite may me now comfort.
Death hath of me so
That al my riches may me nought disport,
Amisse of gris, they wyl ayein resorte,
Vnto the world a surples and prebende.
Al is vainglory, truely to reporte,
To dyen well
eche man should entende.
Death speaketh to the Marchaunte.
YE rich Marchant, ye mot looke hitherwarde,
That passed haue ful many diuers lond
on foote, hauing most regard
To lucre & winnyng, as I vnderstond.
But now to daunce
ye mot geue me your hond;
For al your labour ful litle auayleth nowe.
Adue vaynglory, both of free and bonde,
coueit then thei that haue ynow.
The Marchaunt maketh aunswere.
an hyll and many a strong[e] vale
I haue trauailed with many marchandise;
Ouer the sea downe cary many a bale
To sondrye Iles, more
than I can deuyse,
Mine heart inward ay
fret* with couetise,
But al for nought, now
Deth me doth* constrein:
For which I se, by record of the wyse.
Who al embraceth litle shall
Death speaketh to the Chartreux.
YEUE me your honde, with
chekes dead and pale,
Caused of watche & long abstinence.
Chart[e]reux, and your self auale
Vnto this daunce with humble
To striue ayein may be no
Lenger to liue set nought your memorye;
Thogh* I be lothsome as in apparence,
Aboue[n] al men Death [hath] the victorie.
The Chartreux maketh aunswere.
this* world I was dead long agon
By mine order and my profession;
eueryman, be he neuer so strong,
Dreadeth to dye by kindly mocion
After his fleshly inclinacion.
But please to God my soule
[for] to borowe
Fiendes myght and fro damnacion:
Some arne to day that shal nought be to morow.
Death speaketh to the Sargeaunte.
COME foorth Sir Sargeaunt, with your stately mase.
Make no defence nor rebellion.
may* auaile to grutchen in this case,
Thogh* ye be deyners of condicion:
[ap]pele nor proteccion
May you fraunchise to doe nature wrong;
For there is none so sturdy
Thogh* he be mightie, another is also strong.
Sargeaunt maketh aunswere.
durste thou* Death set on me arest,
That am the kynges chosen officer,
both[en] east and west,
Mine office dyd, ful surquedous of chere;
But now this day I am arested here,
And can nought flee,
thoh* I had it sworne.
Eche* man is loth to die, both farre & nere.
That hath nought learned for to
Death speaketh to the Monke.
SYR Monke, also with your blacke habite,
Ye may no lenger hold[e] here soioure;
There is nothyng that may you here respite
Agein my might you for to doe succour;
Ye mot accompt[e] touchyng your labour,
How ye haue spend it, in dede, word & thought.
To earth and ashes turneth euery floure;
The life of man is but a thyng of nought.
The Monke maketh aunswere.
I HAD leauer in the cloyster be.
At my booke and study my seruice,
Which is a place contemplatife to see;
But I haue spent my life in mony wyse,
Like as a foole dissolute and nice.
God of his mercy graunt me repentaunce.
By chere outward hard is to deuise,
Al be not merye which that men
Death speaketh to the Usurer.
THOU Vsurer, looke vp and beholde,
that settest al* thy payne,
Whose couetise waxeth
Thy gredy thrust so sore the
But thou shalt neuer to thy desyre attayne,
etike thyne heart[e] freten shall.
But that of pitie God his honde refraine,
One perilous stroke
shal make thee losen al.
The Usurer maketh aunswere.
[me] behoueth sodeinly to dye,
Which is to me great paine & eke greuance.
Succour to fynde I see no maner way
Of golde nor siluer by none cheuisance;
Death through his hast abideth no purueiance
Of folkes blynde that can nought loke wel:
Full oft happeth by kynde of fatall chaunce,
Some haue fayre eyen that
seen neuer adel.
The Poore Man boroweth of the Usurer.
VSURER to God is full great offence,
And in his syght a great abusion;
The poore boroweth percase for indigence.
The riche lent by false collusion,
Onely for lucre in his
Death shal both[e] to
reconing by computacion:
No man is quit that is behynd of dette.
Death speaketh to the Phisicien.
MAISTER of Phisike, which on your vryne
So looke and gase and stare agaynst the sunne,
For al your craft and study of medicine,
[And] all the practike and science that ye cunne,
lyues* course so farre forth is yrunne,
Ayein my might your craft may not endure,
For al the gold that
ye thereby* haue wunne:
Good leche is he that can
The Phisicien maketh aunswer.
FULL long agon that I vnto Phisike
Set my wit and eke my diligence.
In speculatife and also in practike,*
To geat a name through mine excellence,
To fynd out
Preseruatifes to staunche it and to fine:
But I dare
[say] shortly in sentence,
Againes* Death is worth no medicine.
Death speaketh to the Amerous Squyre.
YE that be gentle, so fresh & amerous.
yong flouring in your grene age.
[and] fre, of hert eke* desirous,
Ful of deuises & chaunge in your courage,
Pleasaunt of port, of loke and of visage:
But al shal turne into ashes dead;
For al beautie is but a faynt ymage,
Which stealeth away or folkes can take hede.
Squyer maketh aunswer.
ALAS, alas, I can nowe no succour
Agaynes* Death[e] for myselfe prouide!
A due of youth the lusty fresh[e] flower,
Adue vainglory of beautie and
Adue all seruice of the god Cupide,
Adue my Ladies, so fresh so wel beseyn:
agayn[s] Death nothyng may abyde,
And windes great gon doun with litle rein.
Death speaketh to the Gentlewoman.
Maistresse, of yeres yonge and grene,
Which hold your selfe of beautie
As fayre as ye was whilom Pollixene,
Penelope and the quene Helein.
Yet on this daunce thei went[e] both[e] tweyne,
And so shall ye, for al your straungenesse;
Thogh* daunger long in loue hath lad your rein,
Arested is your chaunge of doublenes.
The Gentlewoman maketh aunswer.
O CRUEL Death, that spareth none estate,
To old and yong thou art indifferent;
To my beautie thou hast said
So hasty is thy
my youth[e] this was mine entent,
To my seruice many man to haue lured;
But she is a foole, shortly in
That in her beautie is to muche assured.
Death speaketh to the Man of Law.
SYR Aduocate, short proces for to make.
Ye mot come plete afore the* high[e] iudge.
a quarel* ye haue vndertake
And for lucre done to folke refuge;
But my fraunchise is so large and huge
That counsayle none auaile may but trouth:
He scapeth wisely of death the great deluge,
Tofore the dome who is nought teint with slouth.
The Man of Law maketh aunswer.
OF right & reason by Natures law,
I can nought
putte against Deth no defence,
Ne by my* sleight me kepen or withdraw,
For al my wit and al* my gret prudence,*
To [make] appeale from his dredful sentence;
Nor nothyng in earth may a man preserue,
Agayn his might to make
God quiteth all men like as they deserue.
Death speaketh to
Maister John Rikil Tregetour.
MASTER John Rikil, whilom Tregetour
Of noble Henry king of
And of Fraunce the mightie conquerour,
For al the sleightes and turning of thine hond,
Thou must come nere my daunce to vnderstond.
Nought may auayle al thy conclusions;
For Death, shortly, nother on sea ne lond.
Is not deceiued by none illusions.
The Tregetour maketh aunswer.
WHAT may auayle magike naturall
Or any craft shewed by
Or course of starres aboue celestiall.
Or of the heauens al the influence
Ageynes* Death to stonde at defence?
Legerdmain now helpeth me right nought.
Fare wel my craft and [al] such sapience;
hath mo maistries than I haue wrought.*
Death speaketh to the Person.
O SIR Curate, that been now here present,
That had your worldly inclinacion.
Your heart entere, your study & entent,
Most of your tithes and* oblacion,
Which should haue be of conuersacion
Mirrour to other, light and
Like your desert[e]
shalbe your guerdon,
eche* labour due is the salarye.
The Person maketh aunswere.
MAUGER my wil I must[e] condescende;
For death assaileth euery liuely thing
Here in this world[e], who can comprehend
His sodein stroke and his
Fare wel [my] tithes, and fare wel mine offring,
I mot go coumpten
in* order by and by.
And for my shepe make a iust reckonyng:
Whom he acquiteth* I hold he is happye.
Death speaketh to the Iurrour.
MAISTER Iurrour, which that at assises
And at sheres questes dydst embrace,
Departist* lond like to thy deuises,
And who most gaue most stode in thy grace:
The poore man lost both[e]
land and place;
For golde thou couldest folke disherite.
But now let se, with thy
Tofore the Iudge how
[thou] canst thee quite!
The Iurrour maketh aunswere.
WHILOM I was cleped in my countrey
The belweather, and that was not alite.
Nought loued but drad of high & low degree;
For whom me list by craft I could endite,
Hongen the true and the thefe respite:
Al the countrey by my worde was lad.
But I dare sein, shortly for to write,
Of my death many a man is glad.
Death speaketh to the Minstral.
O THOU Minstrall, that can so note and pipe
folke[s] for to done pleasaunce,
thi* ryght honde anone I shall the gripe,
With these other to gone vpon my daunce;
There is no scape nother auoydaunce,
On no syde to
contraire* my sentence:
For in musike
by craft and accordaunce
Who maister is
[shal] shewen his science.*
The Minstrall maketh aunswere.
THIS new[e] daunce is to me so straunge,
Wonder diuers and passingly contrarye;
The dredefull footyng doth so oft[e] chaunge
And the measures so oft[e]
now to me is nothyng* necessarye.
If it wer so that I might
But many a man, if I shal nought tary.
[tyme] daunseth, but nothyng of hert.
Death speaketh to the Labourer.
THOU Labourer, which in sorowe and peyn
Hast lad thy life in
[ful] great trauayle.
Ye must eke daunce and
therfore nought disdein;
thou do, it may the nought auayle.
And cause why that I thee assayle
Is onely this: from thee to disceuer
The false world that can so folkes fayle;
He is a foole that weneth to liuen euer.
The Labourer maketh aunswere.
I HAUE wished after Death ful oft,
Albe that I would haue fled him nowe.
leauer to haue lyen vnsoft,
In wind & rain to haue gon at the plowe,
With spade & pikoys
labored for my prowe,
Doluen and ditched and at the cart[e] gone:
For I may say and tell[e] platlye howe,
In this worlde there is rest[e] none.
Death speaketh to the Frere
SYR Cordelere, to you mine hande is raught.
To* this daunce
[you] to conuay & leade.
Which in your preaching han ful oft ytaught
How that I am most gastful for to drede,
Albe that folke take
thereto none hede.
Yet is there none so strong ne so hardye,
But Death dare hym rest and let for no mede;
yche* houre is present and ready.
The Frere maketh aunswere.
WHAT may this be, that in this world no man
Here to abide may haue no suretie?
Strength, riches, nor what so that he can
Of worldly wisedom; all is but vanitie!
In great estate nor in pouertie
Is nothing founde that may
from* death defend;
For which I saye to high and low degree,
the* sinner that doth his lyfe amend.
Death speaketh to the Chylde.
LITLE Faunte, that
were but late borne,
Shape in this worlde to haue no
Ye must with other, that gone
Be lad in hast by fatall ordinaunce.
ouer* new to gone [up]on my daunce:
There may none age escape
in soth therefro.
Let euery wight haue this in remembraunce.
Who lengest liueth most shal suffer woe,
Yong Childe maketh aunswer.
A A a, a woorde I cannot speake;
I am so yonge; I was borne yesterday.
Death is so hasty on me to be wreake,
And list no lenger to make no delaie.
come but now,* and now I go my way;
Of me no more
tale* shall [ye] be told.
The wyll of God no man withstonde maye;
As soone dyeth a yong
[man] as an olde.
Death speaketh to the Yong Clerke.
O YE, Syr Clerke, suppose ye to be free
Fro my daunce or your selfe defende,
That wend haue risen vnto high degree
Of benefice or some great prebende?
Who climbeth highest sometime shal
Let no man grutche
ayeines* his fortune,
But take at gree
what euer God him sende,
Which punisheth al when time is oportune.
The Clerke maketh aunswere.
[I] that am so yong a clerke now die,
Fro* my seruice & haue no bet guerdon?
Is there no gayn[e] ne no better way,
seurer* fraunchise nor proteccion?
Death maketh alway a short conclusion;
To late ware, when men
been on the brynke:
The world shall fayle and all possession;
For much faileth of thing that
Death speaketh to the Hermite.
YE that haue liued long in wildernes
And there continued long in abstinence,
At the last[e] yet ye mot you dresse.
Of my daunce to haue experience;
For there against
may be* no resistence.
Take now leaue of thyne hermitage:
W[h]erfore yche* man aduert to this sentence.
[in] this life is* no sure heritage.
The Hermite maketh aunswere.
TO liue in desert called solitarie
May again Death haue respite none nor space;
At vnset houre his commyng doth not tary,
And for my part welcom by Goddes grace,
Thankyng hym with humble chere & face
Of al his giftes and great haboundaunce,
Finally affirmyng in this place,
No man is riche that lacketh
agayn to the Hermite.
THAT is wel sayd, and thus should euery wight
Thanken his God & al
his wittes dresse
To loue &
dread him with all his heart & might,
Sith Death to escape maye be no sikernes.
As men deserue, God quiteth of rightwisnes
To riche and poore vpon euery syde:
A better lesson there can no clerke expresse,
Than til to morow is no man sure to abide.
ligging eaten of Wormes.
YE folke that loke vpon this portrature,
Beholding here all estates daunce,
Seeth what ye been & what is your nature:
Meat vnto wormes; nought els in substaunce.
haueth this mirrour aye in remembraunce,
Howe I lye here whylom
crouned [a] kyng,
To al estates a true resemblaunce,
That wormes foode is* fine of
Machabree the Doctoure.
MANS lyfe* is nought els, platly for to thinke.
[a] wind[e] which is transitory,
Passing ay forth, whether he wake or winke.
Toward this daunce, haueth this in memorye,
Remembryng aye there is no better victory
In this life here
than fle syn at the least;
Than shal ye reygne in paradise with glorye.
Happy is he that maketh in heauen his feast!
been there folke mo than sixe or seuen,
Recheles of life in many maner wyse.
Like as there were hell[e] none nor heauen.
Such false errour let euery man despise;
For holy saynctes and olde clerkes wyse
Written contrary, her falsenes to
To liuen wel, take* for the best emprise,
worth when men shall* hence passe.
Lenuoye of the Translatoure.
O YE my lordes &
maisters all in fere,*
Of auenture that shal this daunce reade,
Lowely I pray with all myne heart entere
where as ye se nede;
For nought elles I aske for my mede
But goodly support of this translacion,
And with fauour to suppowaile drede,
Bening[e]lye in your correccioun.
Out of the French I drough it of
Not word by word but folowing in substaunce,
from Paris to Eng[e]land it sent,
Only of purpose you to do
Rude of langage, I was not borne in France,
Haue me excused, my name is Iohn Lidgate;*
Of ther tong I haue no suffisance,
Her curious miters in Englishe to translate.