The Storie Of William Canynge

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ANENT a brooklette as I laie reclynd,
Listeynge to heare the water glyde alonge,
Myndeynge how thorowe the grene mees yt twynd,
Awhilst the cavys respons'd yts mottring songe,
At dystaunt rysyng Avonne to he sped,
Amenged wyth rysyng hylles dyd shewe yts head;
Engarlanded wyth crownes of osyer weedes
And wraytes of alders of a bercie scent,
And stickeynge out wyth clowde agested reedes,
The hoarie Avonne show'd dyre semblamente, 
Whylest blataunt Severne, from Sabryna clepde,
Rores flemie o'er the sandes that she hepde.
These eynegears swythyn bringethe to mie thowghte
Of hardie champyons knowen to the floude,
How onne the bankes thereof brave Ælle fought;
Ælle descended from Merce kynglie bloude,
Warden of Brystowe towne and castel stede,
Who ever and anon made Danes to blede.
Methoughte such doughtie menn must have a sprighte
Dote yn the armour brace that Mychael bore, 
Whan he wyth Satan kynge of helle dyd fyghte,
And earthe was drented yn a mere of gore;
Orr, soone as theie dyd see the worldis lyghte,
Fate had wrott downe, thys mann ys borne to fyghte.
Ælle, I sayd, or els my mynde dyd saie,
Whie ys thy actyons left so spare yn storie?
Were I toe dispone, there should lyvven aie
In erthe and hevenis rolles thie tale of glorie
Thie actes soe doughtie should for aie abyde,
And bie theyre teste all after actes be tryde. 
Next holie Wareburghus fylld mie mynde,
As fayre a sayncte as anie towne can boaste,
Or bee the erthe wyth lyghte or merke ywrynde,
I see hys ymage waulkeyng throwe the coaste.
Fitz Hardynge, Bithrickus, and twentie moe
Ynn visyonn fore mie phantasie dyd goe.
Thus all mie wandrynge faytour thynkeynge strayde
And eche dygne buylder dequac'd onn mie mynde,
Whan from the distaunt streeme arose a mayde,
Whose gentle tresses mov'd not to the wynde; 
Lyche to the sylver moone yn frostie neete,
The damoiselle dyd come soe blythe and sweete.
Ne browded mantell of a scarlette hue,
Ne shoone pykes plaited o'er wyth ribbande geere,
Ne costlie paraments of woden blue,
Noughte of a dresse, but bewtie dyd shee weere;
Naked shee was, and loked swete of youthe,
All dyd bewryen that her name was Trouthe.
The ethie ringletts of her notte-browne hayre
What ne a manne should see dyd swotelie hyde, 
Whych on her milk-white bodykin so fayre
Dyd showe lyke browne streemes sowlyng the white tyde,
Or veynes of brown hue yn a marble cuarr,
Whyche by the traveller ys kenn'd from farr.
Astounded mickle there I sylente laie,
Still scauncing wondrous at the walkynge syghte;
Mie senses forgarde ne coulde reyn awaie;
But was ne forstraughte whan shee dyd alyghte
Anie to mee, dreste up yn naked viewe,
Whych mote yn some ewbrycious thoughtes abrewe. 
But I ne dyd once thynke of wanton thoughte;
For well I mynded what bie vowe I hete,
And yn mie pockate han a crouchee brought;
Whych yn the blosom woulde such sins anete;
I lok'd wyth eyne as pure as angelles doe,
And dyd the everie thoughte of foule eschewe.
Wyth sweet semblate and an angel's grace
Shee 'gan to lecture from her gentle breste;
For Trouthis wordes ys her myndes face,
False oratoryes she dyd aie deteste. 
Sweetnesse was yn eche worde she dyd ywreene,
Tho shee strove not to make that sweetnesse sheene.
Shee sayd; mie manner of appereynge here
Mie name and sleyghted myndbruch maie thee telle;
I'm Trouthe, that dyd descende fromm heavenwere,
Goulers and courtiers doe not kenne mee welle;
Thie inmoste thoughtes, thie labrynge brayne I sawe,
And from thie gentle dreeme will thee adawe.
Full manie champyons and menne of lore,
Payncters and carvellers have gaind good name, 
But there's a Canynge, to encrease the store,
A Canynge, who sall buie uppe all theyre fame.
Take thou mie power, and see yn chylde and manne
What troulie noblenesse yn Canynge ranne.
As when a bordelier onn ethie bedde,
Tyr'd wyth the laboures  maynt of sweltrie daie,
Yn slepeis bosom laieth hys deft headde,
So, senses sonke to reste, mie boddie laie;
Eftsoons mie sprighte, from erthlie bandes untyde,
Immengde yn flanched ayre wyth Trouthe asyde. 
Strayte was I carryd back to tymes of yore,
Whylst Canynge swathed yet yn fleshlie bedde,
And saw all actyons whych han been before,
And all the scroll of Fate unravelled;
And when the fate-mark'd babe acome to syghte,
I saw hym eager gaspynge after lyghte.
In all hys shepen gambols and chyldes plaie,
In everie merriemakeyng, fayre or wake,
I kenn'd a perpled lyghte of Wysdom's raie;
He eate downe learnynge wyth the wastle cake. 
As wise as anie of the eldermenne,
He'd wytte enowe toe make a mayre at tenne.
As the dulce downie barbe beganne to gre,
So was the well thyghte texture of hys lore;
Eche daie enhedeynge mockler for to bee,
Greete yn hys councel for the daies he bore.
All tongues, all carrols dyd unto hym synge,
Wondryng at one soe wyse, and yet soe yinge.
Encreaseynge yn the yeares of mortal lyfe,
And hasteynge to hys journie ynto heaven, 
Hee thoughte ytt proper for to cheese a wyse,
And use the sexes for the purpose gevene.
Hee then was yothe of cornelie semelikeede,
And hee had made a mayden's herte to blede.
He had a fader, (Jesus rest hys soule!)
Who loved money, as hys charie joie;
slee had a broder (happie manne be's dole!)
Yn mynde and boddie, hys owne fadre's boie;
What then could Canynge wissen as a parte
To gyve to her whoe had made chop of hearte? 
But landes and castle tenures, golde and bighes,
And hoardes of sylver rousted yn the ent,
Canynge and hys fayre sweete dyd that despyse,
To change of troulie love was theyr content;
Theie lyv'd togeder yn a house adygne,
Of goode sendaument commilie and fyne.
But soone hys broder and hys syre dyd die,
And lefte to Willyam states and renteynge rolles,
And at hys wyll hys broder Johne supplie.
Hee gave a chauntrie to redeeme theyre soules; 
And put hys broder ynto syke a trade,
That he lorde mayor of Londonne towne was made.
Eftsoons hys mornynge tournd to gloomie nyghte;
Hys dame, hys seconde selfe, gyve upp her brethe,
Seekeynge for eterne lyfe and endless lyghte,
And sleed good Canynge; sad mystake of dethe
Soe have I seen a flower ynn Sommer tyme
Trodde downe and broke and widder ynn ytts pryme.
Next Radcleeve chyrche (oh worke of hande of heav'n,
Whare Canynge sheweth as an instrumente,) 
Was to my bismarde eyne-syghte newlie giv'n;
'Tis past to blazonne ytt to good contente.
You that woulde faygn the fetyve buyldynge see
Repayre to Radcleve, and contented bee.
I sawe the myndbruch of hys nobille soule
Whan Edwarde meniced a seconde wyfe;
I saw what Pheryons yn hys mynde dyd rolle;
Nowe fyx'd fromm seconde dames a preeste for lyfe.
Thys ys the manne of menne, the vision spoke;
Then belle for even-songe mie senses woke.

© Thomas Chatterton