Confessio Amantis, Book VIII: The Tale of Apollonius of Tyre

Confessio Amantis, Book VIII: The Tale of Apollonius of Tyre

Original Text


1023With al the poeple long and brod,
1025The king and queene sorwe made,
1028And thus betwen the wel and wo
1029To schip he goth, his wif with childe,
1030The which was evere meke and mylde
1031And wolde noght departe him fro,
1032Such love was betwen hem tuo.
1033Lichorida for hire office
1035To wende with this yonge wif,
1037Withinne a time, as it betidde,
1038Whan thei were in the see amidde,
1040The storm aros, the wyndes loude
1041Thei blewen many a dredful blast,
1043The derke nyht the sonne hath under,
1044Ther was a gret tempeste of thunder:
1045The mone and ek the sterres bothe
1046In blake cloudes thei hem clothe,
1048This yonge ladi wepte and cride,
1049To whom no confort myhte availe;
1050Of childe sche began travaile,
1051Wher sche lay in a caban clos:
1052Hire woful lord fro hire aros,
1053And that was longe er eny morwe,
1054So that in anguisse and in sorwe
1055Sche was delivered al be nyhte
1056And ded in every mannes syhte;
1057Bot natheles for al this wo
1058A maide child was bore tho.
1059     Appolinus whan he this knew,
1061That noman wiste in him no lif.
1062And whanne he wok, he seide, "Ha, wif,
1065Why schal I live, and thou schalt dye?
1066Ha, thou fortune, I thee deffie,
1067Nou hast thou do to me thi werste.
1068Ha, herte, why ne wolt thou berste,
1069That forth with hire I myhte passe?
1070Mi peines weren wel the lasse."
1071In such wepinge and in such cry
1072His dede wif, which lay him by,
1074Was nevere man that sih ne wiste
1077He fell swounende, as he that soghte
1079Unto the goddes alle above
1080With many a pitous word of love;
1081Bot suche wordes as tho were
1082Yit herde nevere mannes ere,
1083Bot only thilke whiche he seide.
1084The maister schipman cam and preide
1085With othre suche as be therinne,
1087Ayein the deth, bot thei him rede,
1088He be wel war and tak hiede,
1090Receive mai no creature
1091Withinne himself as forto holde,
1092The which is ded: forthi thei wolde,
1093As thei conseilen al aboute,
1094The dede body casten oute.
1095For betre it is, thei seiden alle,
1096That it of hire so befalle,
1099And knew here conseil that was trewe,
1100Began ayein his sorwe newe
1101With pitous herte, and thus to seie:
1102"It is al reson that ye preie.
1103I am," quod he, "bot on al one,
1104So wolde I noght for mi persone
1105There felle such adversité.
1106Bot whan it mai no betre be,
1107Doth thanne thus upon my word,
1108Let make a cofre strong of bord,
1109That it be ferm with led and pich."
1110Anon was mad a cofre sich,
1111Al redy broght unto his hond;
1112And whanne he sih and redy fond
1114The dede bodi was besowed
1115In cloth of gold and leid therinne.
1116And for he wolde unto hir winne
1117Upon som cooste a sepulture,
1119Of gold he leide sommes grete
1121Forth with a lettre, and seide thus:
1122     "I, king of Tyr Appollinus,
1124That hiere and se this lettre write,
1126Hier lith a kinges doghter ded:
1127And who that happeth hir to finde,
1128For charité tak in his mynde,
1130With this tresor, which he schal have."
1131Thus whan the lettre was full spoke,
1135And stoppen it be such a weie,
1139Of that the corps schal wel aryve,
1140Thei caste it over bord als blyve.
1141     The schip forth on the wawes wente;
1142The prince hath changed his entente,
1143And seith he wol noght come at Tyr
1148The schipman which behinde stiereth
1151     Bot now to mi matiere ayein,
1152To telle as olde bokes sein,
1153This dede corps of which ye knowe
1155Now hier, now ther, til ate laste
1157The cofre and al that was therinne.
1158Of gret merveile now beginne
1159Mai hiere who that sitteth stille;
1160That God wol save mai noght spille.
1161Riht as the corps was throwe alonde,
1162Ther cam walkende upon the stronde
1163A worthi clerc, a surgien,
1164And ek a gret phisicien,
1165Of al that lond the wisest on,
1167Ther were of his disciples some.
1168This maister to the cofre is come,
1171And goth himselve forth withal.
1173They comen hom and tarie noght;
1174This cofre is into chambre broght,
1175Which that thei finde faste stoke,
1177Thei loken in, where as thei founde
1178A bodi ded, which was bewounde
1179In cloth of gold, as I seide er,
1180The tresor ek thei founden ther
1183Unsowed was the bodi sone,
1184And he, which knew what is to done,
1185This noble clerk, with alle haste
1189He soghte and fond a signe of lif.
1190With that this worthi kinges wif
1192And maden fyres al aboute;
1193Thei leide hire on a couche softe,
1194And with a scheete warmed ofte
1195Hire colde brest began to hete,
1197This maister hath hire every joignt
1198With certein oile and balsme enoignt,
1199And putte a liquour in hire mouth,
1207Where is my lord, what world is this?"
1208As sche that wot noght hou it is.
1210Ansuerde anon upon hire speche
1211And seith, "Ma dame, yee ben hiere,
1212Where yee be sauf, as yee schal hiere
1213Hierafterward; forthi as nou
1215For trusteth wel withoute faile,
1216Ther is nothing which schal you faile,


1021] A poem in eight books first completed in 1390, revised in the following year, and again revised in the 16th year of Richard II, June 1392-June 1393. Extant in about forty MSS. of the late 14th and the 15th centuries, and printed by Caxton in 1483. Confessio Amantis is a collection of over one hundred stories illustrative of the vices and virtues. The poet, as a lover, confesses his shortcomings to Genius, the priest of Venus, who absolves him and relates tales suitable to counteract each type of sin. The tale of Apollonius of Tyre is the principal tale of the final book. The play of Pericles, Prince of Tyre (partly by Shakespeare) is based principally on Gower's version, and Gower himself appears as the "presenter", or speaker of the prologues.

Having been shipwrecked in Pentapolis, Apollonius, exiled prince of Tyre, has married the king's daughter and subsequently is recalled to Tyre. Back to Line

1022] betok. Gave out. He announced before God and the whole land. Back to Line
1024] abod. Would abide. Back to Line
1026] somdiel Some deal, somewhat. Back to Line
1027] tho. Then. Back to Line
1034] norrice. Nurse. Back to Line
1036] schape. Shaped, foreordained. Back to Line
1039] sihe. Saw. Back to Line
1042] welkne. Welkin, sky. Back to Line
1047] lok. Look. Back to Line
1060] a swoune. In a swoon.
overthrew. Was overthrown, fell over. Back to Line
1063] lust. Pleasure. Back to Line
1064] recoverir. Remedy. Back to Line
1073] sithes. Times. Back to Line
1075] rich. Like. Back to Line
1076] evere among. Every little while, at intervals.
lich. Dead body. Back to Line
1078] oghne. Own. Back to Line
1086] And say that he may in no way avoid death unless they advise him: let him be very alert and take heed that ... Back to Line
1089] The see . . . casten oute. The sea will not receive a dead body but will cast it ashore. Therefore if the dead body remains in the ship, the ship will be cast ashore and wrecked. Back to Line
1097] spille. Perish. Back to Line
1098] here. Their. Back to Line
1113] enclowed. Nailed. Back to Line
1118] in aventure. In case (any one should find her). Back to Line
1120] A great amount of property (in the form) of jewels. Back to Line
1123] Cause all manner of men to know. Back to Line
1125] red. Advice. Back to Line
1129] begrave. Buried. Back to Line
1132] stoke. Closed. Back to Line
1133] yren. Iron. Back to Line
1134] wawes. Waves. Back to Line
1136] dreie. Dry. Back to Line
1137] grieve. Injure. Back to Line
1138] good believe of that. Good belief in the supposition that. Back to Line
1144] As thanne. At that particular time (the as helps to emphasize thanne). Back to Line
1145] Tharse. Tarsus. Apollonius had saved this city from famine before he was shipwrecked at Pentapolis. Back to Line
1146] skarse. Diminish. Back to Line
1147] arist. Contraction of ariseth. Back to Line
1149] saghte. Reconciled. at peace. Back to Line
1150] Straghte. Extended. Back to Line
1154] forthrowe. Thrown about, tossed about. Back to Line
1156] Ephesim. Ephesus. Back to Line
1166] hihte. Was called. Back to Line
1169] peiseth. Feels by its weight. Back to Line
1170] in. Abode. Back to Line
1172] Whatever must happen shall happen. Back to Line
1176] unloke. Unlocked. Back to Line
1181] Forth with. Together with. Back to Line
1182] hiede. Heed. Back to Line
1186] taste. Feel. Back to Line
1187] sih. Saw. Back to Line
1188] couthe. Knew. Back to Line
1191] Honestely. Honourably, respectfully. Back to Line
1196] flacke. Flutter, palpitate. Back to Line
1200] couth. Known. Back to Line
1201] coevereth. Recovers. Back to Line
1202] yhen. Eyes. Back to Line
1203] cawhte. Caught. Back to Line
1204] strawhte. Stretched. Back to Line
1205] Hield. Held. Back to Line
1206] Cf. Shakespeare's Pericles, III.ii.106:
O dear Diana,
Where am I? Where's my lord? What world is this?
Back to Line
1209] leche. Physician (O.E. lœce). Back to Line
1214] Conforteth you. Comfort yourself. Back to Line
1217] do. Done. She becomes a priestess in the service of Diana at Ephesus, but is ultimately reunited to her husband and daughter. Back to Line
Publication Start Year
Publication Notes

Westminster: William Caxton, 1483. inc/ff Fisher Rare Book Library

RPO poem Editors
N. J. Endicott
RPO Edition
2RP.1.4; RPO 1996-2000.