Here is a comparison of the text that William Dugdale published in The history of St. Pauls Cathedral in 1658, with the one he published in Monasticon Anglicanum in 1673 (the same text was reused in 1683, since this edition was simply some old sheets with a new front-page).
In this version, "&" is replaced by "and" almost everywhere, and the text is somewhat modernized: archbishop (instead of archebishop), con (instead of conne), calculation (calculacion), delation (delacion), tary (tarye), down (downe), constreine, (constrein), attaine (attayne), adell (adel), sun (sunne), far (farre), judgement (judgement), Worms (Wormes), etc. An old error is fixed since an "I" was lacking after "Shall" in the clerk's stanza.
It is also in this edition that new errors and idiosyncrasies are introduced, which can be traced in later editions: "helyen" (instead of "helpen"), "All as" (instead of ""Allas"), "bate" (instead of "bare"), "constraind" (constrained), "chembers" (chambers), "labeur" (labour), fatall (fatal), great (geat), reyne (rein), in all feare (all in feare).
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 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 the 1658-edition.
O Ye folkes hard hearted as a stone,
Which to the world have all your advertence
Like as it should ever lasten in one,
Where is your wit, where is your providence
To seen aforne the sodayn violence,
Of cruel death that be so wise and sage,
Which slayeth, alas, by stroke or pestilence,
Both young & old of low & high parage.
Death spareth nought low ne high degre,
Popes, Kings, ne worthy Emperours,
When they shine most in felicity,
He can abate the freshness of her flours,
Her bright Sun clipsen with his shours
Make them plunge fro her sees lowe,
Mauger the might of all these Conquerours,
Fortune hath them from her whele ythrow.
Considereth this ye folkes that been wise,
And it imprinteth in your memorial,
Like thensample which that at Parise,
I fonde depict ones in a wall,
Full notably as I rehearse shall,
Of a French Clerke taking acquaintance,
I took on me to translaten all
Out of the French Macchabrees daunce.
By whose advise and counsail at the last,
Through her stiering and her motion,
I obeyed unto her request
Thereof to make a playn translacyon
In English tonge, of entencion,
That proud folkes that been stout and bolde,
As in a mirrour toforne in her reason
Her ugly fine there clearly may behold.
By ensample that thei in her entents,
Amend her life in every maner age,
The which daunce at Saint Innocents,
Portrayed is with all the surplusage,
Yoven unto us our lives to correct,
And to declare the fine of our passage,
Right anone my stile I will direct
To shew this world is but a pilgrimage.
The End of the Prologe.
The Words of the Translator.
O Creatures ye that been reasonable,
The life desiring which is eternal,
Ye may seen heer doctrine full notable
Your life to lead, which that is mortal,
Thereby to learne in special
How ye shall trace the daunce of Machabree,
To man and woman ylike natural
For death ne spareth high ne low degree.
In this myrrour every wight may fynde,
That him behoveth to gone upon this daunce
Who goeth toforne, or who shall go behind,
All dependeth in goddes ordinance,
Wherefore lowly every man his chance,
Death spareth not poor, ne yet blood royall,
therefore have this in remembrance,
Of oo matter god hath yforged all.
Death fyrst speaketh unto the Pope, and after to every degree as followeth.
YE that been set most in high dignity,
Of all estates in earth spiritual,
And like as Peter hath the soveraintee,
Over the church and states temporall,
Upon this daunce ye first begin shall,
As most worthy lord and governour,
For all the worship of your estate Papal,
And of Lordship to God is the honour.
The Pope maketh aunswer.
Fyrst me behoveth this daunce for to lede,
Which sat in earth highest in my See,
The state full perillous who so taketh heed,
To occupie Peters dignity,
But for all that death I may not flee,
On this daunce with other for to trace,
For which all honour who prudently can see,
Is little worth that doth so soon passe.
Death speaketh to the Emperour.
SYr Emperour, lord of all the ground,
Sovereine prince and highest of noblesse,
Ye mot forsake of gold your apple round
Scepter and swerd & all your high prowesse,
Behind letten your treasour & your riches,
And with other to my daunce obey
Against my might is worth none hardinesse,
Adams children all they must deye.
The Emperour maketh aunswer.
I Note to whom that I may appeal
Touching death which doth me so constrein
There is no gin to
helpen my querell
But spade and pickoys my grave to atteyne,
A simple sheet there is no more to seyn,
To wrappen in my body and visage,
Whereupon sore I me compleyne,
That great Lordes have little auvantage.
Death speaketh to the Cardinal.
YE been abashed it seemeth and in drede,
Syr Cardynal it sheweth by your chere,
But yet forthy ye folow shall in deed,
With other folke my daunce for to lere,
Your great aray all shall leaven here.
Your hat of red, your vesture of great cost,
All these thinges reckoned well in fear.
In great honour good
avise is lost.
The Cardinal maketh aunswer.
I Have great cause, certes this is no faile,
To be abashed and greatly dread me
Sith death is come me sodainly to assaile
That I shall never hereafter clothed be
In grise nor Ermine like unto my degree,
Mine hat of red leuen eke in distresse,
By which I have learned well and see,
How that all joy endeth in heavinesse.
Death speaketh to the King.
O Noble King, most worthy of renoune
Come forth anon for all your worthines
That whilom had about you environ
Great royalty and passing hye noblesse:
But right anon all your great highnesse,
Sole from your men in haste ye shall it lete
Who most aboundeth here in great riches,
Shall bear with him but a shete.
The King maketh aunswer.
I Have nought learnd here toforne to dance,
No daunce insooth of footing so savage,
Where through I see by cleer demonstrance,
What pride is worth or force of high linage,
Death all fordoth this is his usage,
Great and small that in this world sojourne,
Who is most meek I hold him most sage,
For we shall all to the dead ashes tourne.
Death speaketh to the Patriarche.
Sir Patriarche all your humble cheer,
Ne quiteth you nought nor your humility,
Your double crosse of gold & stones cleer,
Your power whole and all your dignity,
Some other shall of very equity
Possede anon as I rehearse can
Trusteth never that ye shall Pope be
For holy hope deceiveth many a man.
The Patriarch maketh aunswer.
WOrldly honour, gret tresour and riches,
Have me deceived soothfastly indeed,
Mine old joyes been turned into tristesse,
What availeth such treasures to possede?
It climbeth up, a fall hath for its mede,
Great estates folke wasten out of number,
Who mounteth high it is sure, and no drede,
Great burthen doth him oft encumber.
Death speaketh to the Constable.
IT is my right to arest you and constreyne,
With us to dance my master sir Constable,
For more stronger than ever was Charlemain
Death hath afforced & more worshipable.
For hadines ne knighthood this is no fable,
Nor strong armure of plates nother of maile,
What gayneth armes of folke most notable,
When cruel death list him to assaile.
The Constable maketh aunswer.
MY purpose was and whole intencion
To assail Castles & mighty Fortresses,
And bring folke unto subjection;
To seek honour, fame, and great richesses,
But I see that all worldly prowesse
Death can abate, which is a great despite,
To him alone sorrow and eke sweetnesse,
For against death is found no respite.
Death speaketh to the
Archebishop, why do you withdraw,
So frowardly, as it were by disdain?
Ye must approach to my mortall law,
It to contrare it were nought but in vayne,
For day by day there is none other gayne,
Death at the hand pursueth every coast,
Prest and debte mot be yelde againe
And at a day men counten with her host.
Archebishop maketh aunswer.
ALas I wote not to what party for to flee,
For dread of death I have so gret distresse,
To escape his might I can no refute see
That who so knew his constraint & duresse,
He would take reason to maistresse,
Adue my treasour, my pompe and pride also,
chambers my port & my freshnes,
Thing that behoveth nedes mot be do.
Death speaketh to the Baron.
YE that among Lords & Barons,
Have had so long worship and renowne,
For yet your trumpets and your clarions,
This is no dreame nor simulacion,
Whilom 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 aunswer.
FUll oft sith I have been auctorised,
To high enprises & things of gret fame,
Of high & low my thank also devised,
Cherishd with Ladies & women high of name
Ne never one me was put no defame.
In Lords of Court which that was notable,
But deaths stroke hath made me lame,
Under heaven in earth is nothing stable.
Death speaketh to the Princess.
COme forth anon my Lady good Princess
Ye must also gon upon this daunce,
Nought may avayle your great straungeness,
Neither your beauty nor your gret pleasance,
Your rich aray nother your dalliance,
That whilom couth so many hold in hond
In love for all your double variance
Ye mot as now this footing understond.
The Princess maketh aunswer.
ALas I see there is none other boot,
Death hath in earth no lady nor mastres,
And on this daunce yet mot I nedes fote,
For there nis Queen, countess, ne dutchess,
Flouring in bounty nor in her fayrness
That shooe of death mot passe the passage,
When our beautie and counterfeit fairnesse
Dieth, adue then our rimpled age.
Death speaketh to the Bishop.
MY Lord sir Bishop with Miter & Cross,
For all your riches soothly I ensure,
For all your treasure kept in closse
Your worldly goods, and goods of nature,
Of your sheep the dreadfull ghostly cure,
With charge committed to your prelacy,
For to accompt ye shall be brought to lure,
No wight is sure that climbeth over high.
The Bishop maketh aunswer.
MIne heart truly is nother glad ne mery,
Of sodein tidinges which that ye bring,
My feast is turned into simple fery,
That for discomfort me list nothing syng,
The world contraries to me now in working
That all folks can so disherit,
He all with halt (alas) at our parting,
All thing shall pass, save only our merit.
Death speaketh to the Squire.
COme forth sir Squire right fresh of your aray
That conne of daunces all the new guise,
bare harnes freshly horsed yesterday,
With spere & shield at your uncouth devise,
And took on you so many high emprise,
Daunseth with us it will no better be,
There is no succour in no maner wise,
For no man may fro deaths stroke flee.
The Squire maketh aunswer.
SIthence that death holdeth me in his lase,
Yet shall I speak oo word ere I passe.
Adue all mirth, adue now all solace,
Adue my Ladies whilom so fresh of face,
Adue beauty, pleasaunce, and all solace,
Of deaths chaunge every day is prime,
Think on your souls ere the death manace,
For all shall rot & no man wot what time.
Death speaketh to the Abbot.
COme forth sir Abbot with your brode hat,
Beeth nought abasht, if ye haven right,
Great is your head, your belly large & fat.
Ye mot come daunce if ye be nothing light,
Leaveth your abbey to some other wight,
Your heyre is of age your state to occupie,
Who that is fattest I have him behight,
In his grave shall soonest putrifie.
The Abbot maketh aunswer
OF these threts have I none envie,
That I shall now leave all the governance
But that I shall as a cloysterer dye,
This death is to me passing gret grievaunce,
My liberty nor my great habundaunce,
What may they availe in any maner wise,
Yet aske I mercy with heartely repentance,
If in dying to late men them avise.
Death speaketh to the Abbesse.
ANd ye my Lady gentle dame Abbesse,
With your mantles furred large & wide,
Your veil your wimple passing of gret riches,
And bedes (sister) you mot not leyn on side,
For to this daunce I shall be your guide,
If ye be tender borne of gentle blood,
Whiles that you live for your self provide,
For after death no man hath no good.
The Abbesse maketh aunswer.
ALas that death hath thus for me ordaind,
That in no wise I may it nought decline,
If it be so full oft I have
Brest and throte my notes out to twine,
My chekes round garnished for to shine,
Ungird full oft to walken at the large,
Thus cruel death with all estates fine,
Who hath no ship must row in bote or barge.
Death speaketh to the Bayly.
COme forth sir Bayly that know all guise,
By your office of trouth & rightwiseness,
Ye must come to a new assise,
Extortions and wrongs to redresse,
Ye be somned as law biddeth expresse,
To yeve accompts the judge will you charge,
Which hath ordained to excluden all falsnes,
That every man shall bear his own charge.
The Bayly maketh aunswer.
O Thou Lord God this is a hard journey,
To which aforn I took but little hede,
My chance is turned & that forethinketh me,
Whilom with Judges 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 well seen in dede,
Again death that none apel may vayl.
Death speaketh to the Astronomer.
COme forth master that lookest up so high
With instruments of Astronomy
To take the grees & height of every starre,
What may availe all your astrology?
Sith of Adam all the genealogie,
Made first of God to walk upon the ground,
Death with arest thus saith Theologie,
And all shall dye for an apple round.
The Astronomer maketh aunswer.
FOr all my craft, cunning, or science,
I can nought find no provision,
Nother in the stars search out no difference,
By domifying or calculacion.
Save finally in conclusion,
For to describe our cunning every dele,
There is no more by sentence of reason,
Who liveth aright mot nedes dye well.
Death speaketh to the Burgis.
SYr Burgis what do you long tarye,
For all your avoyry & your gret riches,
If ye be strong, deinous, and contrary,
Towards this dance ye mot you nedes dress,
For of all tresour, plenty and largesse,
From other it came & shall unto strangers:
He is a foole that in such business,
Wot nought for whom he stuffeth his garners.
The Burgis maketh aunswer.
CErtes to me it is great displeasaunce,
To leave all this & mai it nought assure,
How these rents, treasour, and substance,
Death all fordoth such is his nature,
Therfore wise is no creature,
That set his heart on good that may dissever,
The world it lent the world will it recure,
And who most hath, lothest dyeth ever.
Death speaketh to the Canon Secular.
ANd ye sir Chanon with many gret Prebend
Ye may no lenger have distribution,
Of gold, silver largely to dispend,
For there is now no consolation,
But dance with us for all your high renowne,
For if death stode upon the brinke,
Ye may thereof have no delacion,
Death cometh ay when men least on him thinke.
The Chanon maketh aunswer.
MY benefice with mony personage
God wot ful lite may me now comfort,
Death hath of me so gret
That all my riches may me nought disport,
Amisse of gris they will ayein resort,
Unto the world a surpless & prebend,
All is vainglory truely to report,
To dyen well, each man should entend.
Death speaketh to the Marchant.
YE rich marchant ye mot look hitherward,
That passed have full many divers lond,
On horse and foot having most regard
To lucre & winning as I understond,
But now to dance you mot give me your hond,
For all your labour full litle avayleth now,
Adue vaynglory both of free & bond,
None more covet then thei that have ynough.
The Marchant maketh aunswer.
BY many a hill & many a strong vale
I have travailed with many marchandise,
Over the sea downe carrie many a bale,
To sondry Iles more then I can devise,
Mine heart inward ay fretteth with covetise,
But all for nought now death doth me constrein,
For which I see by record of the wise,
Who all embraceth litle shal constreine.
Death speaketh to the Chartreux.
YEve me your hond with cheke dead & pale
Caused of watch and long abstinence,
Sir Chartreux and your self availe,
Unto this daunce with humble patience.
To strive ayein may be no resistance,
Lenger to live set nought your memory,
If I be lothsome as in appearance,
Above all men death hath the victory.
The Chartreux maketh aunswer.
UNto the world I was dead long agon,
By mine order and my profession,
And every man be he never so strong,
Dreadeth to dye by kindly motion,
After his fleshly inclination,
But please to God my soul to borrow,
Fro friends might and fro damnation,
Some arne to day that shall nought be to morrow.
Death speaketh to the
COme forth sir
sargeant with your stately mase,
Make no defence nor rebellion
It may nought avail to grutchen in this case
If ye be deyners of condition,
For neither pele nor protection,
May you fraunchise to do nature wrong
For there is none so sturdy champion,
If he be mighty, another is also strong.
The Sergeant maketh aunswer.
HOw dare this death set on me arest,
That am the kings chosen officer,
Which yesterday both East & West,
Mine office did full surquedous of chere,
But now this day I am arested here,
And can nought flee if I had it sworne,
Every man is loth to dye both farre & nere
That hath nought learned for to be ded aforn.
Death speaketh to the Monke.
SIr Monke also with your black habite
Ye may no lenger hold here sojoure,
There is nothing that may you here respite,
Agein my might you for to do succour,
Ye mot accompt touching your labour,
How ye have spend it in dede word & thought
To earth and ashes turneth every floure,
The life of man is but a thing of nought.
The Monke maketh aunswer.
I Had leaver in the cloyster be,
At my book and study my service,
Which is a place contemplatif to see,
But I have spent my life in mony wise,
Like as a foole dissolute and nice,
God of his mercy grant me repentance,
By chere outward hard is to devise
All be not merry which that men see daunce.
Death speaketh to the Usurer.
THou Usurer looke up and behold,
Unto thy winning thou settest aye thy paine
Whose covetise never waxeth cold,
Thy gredy thrust so sore doth the constrein.
But thou shalt never to thy desyre attayne,
Such an Etick thy heart freten shall,
But that of pity God his honde refraine
One perilous stroke will make thee losen all.
The Usurer maketh aunswer.
NOw behoveth sodeinly to dye,
Which is to me great paine and eke grevance.
Succour to fynde I see no maner way,
Of gold nor silver by none chevisance.
Death through his hast abideth no purveiance
Of folkes blinde that can nought loke well,
Full oft happeth by kinde of fatal chaunce,
Some have fayre eyen that see never adel.
The poor man borroweth of the Usurer.
VSurer to God is full great offence,
And in his sight a great abusion,
The poor borroweth percase for indigence,
The rich lent by false collusion
Onely for lucre in his intencion.
Death shall both to accompts fet,
To make reckoning by computacion,
No, no man is quit that is behind of dette.
Death speaketh to the
MAster of Phisike which on your urine,
So loke & gase & stare against the sunne,
For all your craft and study of medicine,
All the practike & science that ye cunne,
Your life course so farre forth is yrunne,
Ayein my might your craft may not endure,
For all the gold that thereby you have wunne
Good leech is he that himself can recure.
Phisicien maketh aunswer.
FUll long agon that I unto Phisike,
Set my wit and eke my diligence,
In speculatife, and also in practike,
geat a name through mine excellence,
To fynd out against Pestilence,
Preservatives to staunche it and to fine,
But I dare shortly in sentence,
Say that against death is worth no medicine.
Death speaketh to the amerous Squire.
YE that be gentle so fresh and amerous,
Of yeres young flouring in your grene age,
Lusty, fre of hert & eke desirous,
Full of devises & chaunge in your courage,
Pleasaunt of port, of loke and of visage.
But all shall turne into ashes dead.
For all beautie is but a faynt ymage,
Which stealeth away, or folks can take hede.
The Squire maketh aunswer.
ALas, alas, I can nowe no succour,
Against death for my selfe provide,
Adue of youth the lusty fresh flower,
Adue vainglory of beautie, and the provide,
Adue all service of the god Cupide,
Adue my Ladies so fresh, so well beseyn.
For agayn death nothyng may abyde,
And windes great gon doun with litle reyn.
Death speaketh to the Gentlewoman.
Come forth mistress of yeers yong & grene
Which hold your self of beauty sovereign
As fayre as ye was whilom Polyxene,
Penelope, and the Queen Helein.
Yet on this daunce they went both tweyne,
And so shall ye for all your straungenesse,
If danger long in love hath lad you rein,
Arested is your chaunge of doublenesse.
The Gentlewoman maketh aunswer.
O Cruel death that spareth none estate
To old & yong thou art indifferent,
To my beauty thou hast said check mate,
So hasty is thy mortal
For in mine youth this was my entent,
To my service many man to have lured,
But she is a fool shortly in sentment,
That in her beauty is to much assured.
Death speaketh to the man of Law.
SIr advocate short processe for to make,
Ye mot come plete afore the high judge,
Many quarels ye have undertake,
And for lucre done to folke refuge,
But my fraunchise is so large and huge,
That counsail none avayle 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 putten against death no defence,
For all my wit nor for all my gret prudence,
To appeal from his dreadfull sentence
Nother by no sleight me kepen or withdraw
Nor nothing in earth may a man preserve,
Again his might to make resistance.
God quiteth all men like as they deserve.
Death speaketh to Mr. John Rikil Tregetour.
MAster John Rikil whilom Tregetour
Of noble Henry King of England,
And of France the mighty Conquerour,
For al the sleights & turning of thine hond,
Thou must come nere my daunce to understond.
Nought may avail all thy conclusions,
For death shortly nother on sea ne lond,
Is not deceived by none illusions.
The Tregetour maketh aunswer.
WHat may availe magike naturall,
Or any craft shewed by appearance,
Or course of starres above celestial,
Or of the heavens all the influence,
Against death to stond at defence
Legerdemain now helpeth me right nought,
Farewell my craft and such sapience,
For death mo maistries hath y wrought.
Death speaketh to the Person.
O Sir Curat that been now here present,
That had your worldly inclination,
Your heart entere your study and entent,
Most of your tithes and your oblation,
Which should have be of conversacion,
Mirrour to other light and exemplary
Like your desert shall be your guerdon,
And to every labour due is the salary.
The Person maketh aunswer.
Maugre my will I must condiscend,
For death assayleth every lively thing,
Here in this world who can comprehend,
His sodein stroke & his unwary turning,
Farewel tithes, & farewel mine offering,
I mot go coumpten by order by & by,
And for my sheep make a just reckoning,
And who that so him quiteth I hold he is happy.
Death speaketh to the Jurrour.
MAster Jurrour which that at assises,
And at Sheres Quests didst embrace,
Deper didst lond like to thy devises,
And who most gave most stode in thy grace,
The poor man lost both lond and place,
For gold thou couldest folke disherite,
But now let see with thy taint face,
Tofore the Judge how canst thee quite.
The Jurrour maketh aunswer.
WHilom I was cleped in my countrey,
The belweather & that was not alight,
Nought loved 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 word was lad,
But I dare sein shortly for to writ,
Of my death many a man is glad.
Death speaketh to the Minstrall.
O Thou minstral that can so note & pipe,
Unto folke for to done pleasaunce,
By the right hond I shall anon the gripe,
With these other to gone upon my daunce,
There is no scape nother avoydaunce,
On no side to contune my sentence,
For in Musike my craft, and accordance,
Who maister is shewen his sentence.
The Minstrall maketh aunswer.
THis new daunce is to me so straunge,
Wonder divers and passingly contrary,
The dredeful footing doth so oft chaunge,
And the measures so oft sith vary,
Which unto me is now nothing necessary,
If it were so that I might assert
But many a man if I shall nought tary,
Oft daunseth but nothing of hert.
Death speaketh to the Labourer.
THou Labourer, which in sorrow & peyn,
Hast lad thy life in great travayle,
Ye must eke dance & therefore nought disdein,
For if you do it may the nought avayle,
And cause why that I thee assayle,
As onely this fro thee to discever
The false world that can so folkes fayle,
He is a fool that weneth to liven ever.
The Labourer maketh aunswer.
I Have wished after death full oft,
Albe that I would have fled him now,
I had lever to have lyen unsoft,
In wind & rain to have gon at the plow,
With spade & pikoys laboured for my prow,
Dolven and ditched & at the cart gone,
For I may say and tell platly how,
In this world there is rest none.
Death speaketh to the Frere menor.
SIr Cordelere to you mine hand is raught,
You to this daunce to convey and lead,
Which in your preaching han ful oft ytaught
How that I am most gastful for to drede
Albe that folke take therto none heed,
Yet is there none so strong ne so hardy
But death dare him rest & let for no mede,
For death every houre is present & ready.
The Frere maketh aunswer.
WHat may this be that in this world no man
Here to abide may have no surety
Strength, riches, nor what so that he can,
Of worldly wisedom all is but vanitie,
In great estate nor in poverty,
Is nothing found that may his death defend,
For which I say to high and low degree,
Wise is that sinner that doth his life amend.
Death speaketh to the Child.
LItle Faunte that wert but late borne
Shape in this world to have no plasaunce,
Ye must with other that gone herebeforne,
Be lad in hast by fatal ordinance,
Learne of new to gone on my daunce
There may none age escape insoth therefro,
Let every wight have this in remembrance,
Who lengest liveth most shall suffer woe.
The young Childe maketh aunswer.
A A a. a. woorde I canot speake,
I am so yonge I was borne yesterday,
Death is so hasty on me to be wreak,
And list no lenger to make no delay,
I am but now borne & now I go my way,
Of me no more to tele shall be told,
The will of God no man withstond may,
As soon dyeth a yong as an old.
Death speaketh to the
O Ye sir Clerk suppose ye to be free,
Fro my daunce, or your selfe defende,
That wend have risen unto high degree
Of Benefice or some great Prebend,
Who climbeth highest sometime shall
Let no man grutch against his fortune,
But take at gree whatever God him send,
Which punisheth all when time is oportune.
The Clerk maketh aunswer.
SHall that am so yong a clerk now die,
Of my service and have no better guerdon
Is there no gayn ne no better way,
No better fraunchise nor protection?
Death maketh alway a short conclusion,
To late ware when men be on the brinke,
The world shall faile & all possession,
For much faileth of thing that folkes thinke.
Death speaketh to the Hermite.
YE that have lived long in wildernesse
And there continued long in abstinence,
At the last yet ye mot you dresse,
Of my daunce to have experience,
For there against is no resistance,
Take now leave of thine Hermitage,
Werfore every man advert to this sentence,
That this life here is no sure heritage.
The Hermite maketh aunswer.
TO live in desert called solitary,
May again death have respite none nor space,
At unset houre his coming doth not tary,
And for my part welcome by gods grace,
Thanking him with humble chere & face,
Of all his gifts and great haboundance,
Finally affirming in this place,
No man is rich that lacketh sufferance.
Death speaketh to the Hermite again.
THat is well said, and thus should every wight
Thanken his God & al wits dress,
To love & dred him with al his heart & might
Sith death to escape may be no sikerness.
As men deserve god quiteth of rightwisnesse,
To rich & poor upon every side,
A better lesson there can no clerk expresse
Than till to morrow is no man sure to abide.
The King eaten of Wormes.
YE folke that look upon this portrature,
Beholding here all estates daunce,
Seeth what ye have been & what is your nature
Meat unto worms nought els in substance,
And have this mirrour aye in remembrance,
How I lye here whilom crowned kyng,
To all estates a true resemblance,
That worms food is the fine of your living.
Machabree the Doctour,
MAn is nought els platly for to think,
But as wind which is transitory,
Passing ay forth whether he wake or winke
Toward this dance haveth this in memory,
Remembring ay there is no better victory,
In this life here then fly sin at the least:
Then shall ye reign in paradise with glory,
Happy is he that maketh in heaven his feast.
YEt there be folke mo than six or seven,
Recheles of life in many maner wise,
Like as there were hell none nor heaven,
Such false errour let every man despise,
For holy saincts and old clerkes wise
Written contrary her falseness to defame,
To liven well take this for the best emprise,
Is worth much when men should hence pass.
Lenvoy of the Translatoure.
O Ye my Lords & masters all
Of aventure, that shall this daunce reade,
Lowly I pray with all my heart entere,
To correct whereas you see nede,
For nought elles I aske for my mede,
But goodly support of this translacion,
And with favour to suppowaile drede,
Beninglye in your correction.
OUt of the French I drough it of intent,
Not word by word, but following in substance
And fronm Paris to England it sent,
Only of purpose you to do pleasance.
Have me excused my name is John Lidgate,
Rude of language, I was not borne in France,
Her curious miters in English to translate,
Of other tong I have no suffisance.