The Pastime of Pleasure

From Chapter XLII

Original Text: 
Stephen Hawes, The Works of Stephen Hawes, Facsimile reproductions, intro. by Frank J. Spang (Delmar: Scholars' Facsimiles & Reprints, 1975). PR 2290 A1 1975 Robarts Library
5412My body buryed full ryght humbly
5413In a fayre temple of olde antyquyte,
5415And with many a masse full ryght solempnely;
5416And over my grave, to be in memory,
5417Remembraunce made this lytell epytaphy:
5420Though upon erthe thou hast thy dwellynge-place,
5421Yet erthe at laste must nedes the overthrowe.
5422Thou thynkest the to be none erthe I trowe;
5424To forsake pleasure and to lerne to dy.
5426Now what thou arte call to remembraunce.
5427Open thyn eres unto my songe aloude.
5428Is not thy beauté, strength, and puyssaunce,
5429Though it be cladde with clothes of plesaunce,
5430Very erthe and also wormes fode,
5431Whan erthe to erthe shall so tourne the blode?
5467"The vyle carkes set upon a fyre
5469Fulfyllynge the foule carnall desyre.
5470Thus erthe with erthe is corrupte mervaylously;
5471And erthe on erthe wyll nothynge puryfye
5472Tyll erthe to erthe be nere subverted.
5473For erthe with erthe is so perverted.
5474"O mortall folke! you may beholde and se
5475Howe I lye here, sometyme a myghty knyght;
5476The end of joye and all prosperyte
5477Is dethe at last, through his course and myght;
5478After the day there cometh the derke night;
5479For though the day be never so longe,
5481"And my selfe called La Graunde Amoure,
5482Sekynge adventure in the worldly glory,
5483For to attayne the ryches and honoure,
5484Did thynke full lytell that I sholde here ly,
5485Tyll dethe dyde marke me full ryght pryvely.
5486Lo what I am! and whereto you must!
5487Lyke as I am so shall you be all dust.
5488"Than in your mynde inwardely dyspyse
5489The bryttle worlde, so full of doublenes,
5490With the vyle flesshe, and ryght sone aryse
5491Out of your slepe of mortall hevynes;
5492Subdue the devill with grace and mekenes,
5493That after your lyfe frayle and transytory,
5494You may then lyve in joye perdurably."


5411] No early MS. copies are known. First printed by Wynkyn de Worde in 1509. The poem was dedicated to Henry VII in 1506. It has 5770 lines, mainly in 7-line stanzas but partly in decasyllabic couplets and is an allegorical treatise on the education of a gentleman both in learning and in Chivalry. The hero, La Graunde Amour, is taken to the Tower of Doctrine, where he is instructed by seven ladies, representing the subjects of the mediaeval trivium and quadrivium. He then pays court to the heroine La Bell Pucell. They plight their troth and he goes to the Tower of Chivalry and is made a knight. He fights various giants and monsters and ultimately weds La Bell Pucell. The poem is rounded out by an account of his old age, illness, and death, still narrated by himself. Back to Line
5414] dyryge. Dirge (a contracted form of the first word of an anthem in the Office for the Dead. "Dirige, Domine Deus meus" (Direct thou me, O Lord). Back to Line
5418] erthe, on erthe. The play on the various senses of the word earth in this epitaph is found in a widely current Middle English poem, Erthe upon Erthe, the earliest text of which dates from c. 1310. Texts are printed in Early English Text Society, vol. 141, ed. Murray.
wonderi. Wonderful. Back to Line
5419] the. Thyself. Back to Line
5423] apply. Apply thyself. Back to Line
5425] so proude. This stanza condemns the sin of pride. There follow stanzas (omitted here) dealing, in order, with wrath, envy, sloth, covetousness, and gluttony. Back to Line
5468] lechery. This completes the list of the seven deadly sins. Back to Line
5480] ryngeth. The Southern plural. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
N. J. Endicott
RPO Edition: 
2RP.1.63; RPO 1996-2000.