The lyf so short, the craft so long to lerne,
Th’assay so hard, so sharp the conqueringe,
The dredful joye alwey that slit so yerne,
Al this mene I by love, that my felynge
Astonyeth with his wonderful werkynge
So sore y-wis, that whan I on him thinke,
Nat woot I wel wher that I flete or sinke.
For al be that I knowe nat love in dede,
Ne wot how that he quyteth folk hir hyre,
Yet happeth me ful ofte in bokes rede
Of his miracles, and his cruel yre;
Ther rede I wel he wol be lord and syre,
I dar not seyn, his strokes been so sore,
But God save swich a lord! I can no more.
Of usage, what for luste what for lore,
On bokes rede I ofte, as I yow tolde.
But wherfor that I speke al this? Nat yore
Agon, hit happed me for to beholde
Upon a boke, was write with lettres olde;
And ther-upon, a certeyn thing to lerne,
The longe day ful faste I radde and yerne.
And with the showting, whan hir song was do,
That foules maden at hir flight a-way,
I wook, and other bokes took me to
To rede upon, and yet I rede alway;
In hope, y-wis, to rede so som day
That I shal mete som thing for to fare
The bet; and thus to rede I nil not spare.