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first dark Ymagining of Felony, Cruel Ire, Pale Dread, the Smyter with the knife under his cloak, Wodeness (madness) laughing in his rage, Strife with bloody knives, the Slayer of himself, his hair bathed in his heart's blood, are some of the figures in this sublime and horrible group. The form of the god himself is yet more boldly sketched :
The statue of Mars upon a cart (a) ystode.
This noble poem is paraphrased by Dryden, as has been mentioned. In his works it may be seen in modern English and flowing numbers ; but we cannot help regretting, that Chaucer's emendators have so often, in eking his lines, lopped his thoughts:
Ther mayst 'ou (6) see, commyng with Palamon,
With yalowe nailes, and bright as any gold,
(a) A bear's. (6) As big as your arm. (c) Greyhounds. (d) Muzzle. (e) Rings. The fastening of dog's collars. (f) Filed; highly polished.
(g) Embroidered ; diversified.
(h) Not of Tarsus in Cilicia; it is rather an abbreviation for Tartarin, or Tartarium. (1) Burnt ; burnished. (k) Quite full. (1) Rings. (m) Lemoncolour. (n) Sprinkled (0) A mixture of black and yellow.
And as a lyon he his eyis kest. (a)
Full many a tamé lyon, and libart. Contemporary with Chaucer was John Gower, a poet of some celebrity. The date of his birth is not ascertained ; but he died in 1408, some years after Chaucer. It is said that there is a flattering tradition in the Stafford family that he was of Sti. tenham. Whatever might be his birth, he was a learned and an accomplished man,-whom his great contemporary compliments as the moral Gower. Succeeding eulogists adopt the more equi. vocal epithet of ancient, to which his title is indis. putable. Poets have from very early periods courted the patronage of the great. Ancient Gower attached himself to Thomas of Woodstock, Duke of Gloucester. He wrote in Latin and French ; and his sonnets in the latter language are still reckoned elegant. His principal work in English, en. titled CONFESSIO AMANTIS, consists of a series of tales illustrative of the moral virtues and the vices which contrast them. These stories are gleaned, as was then common, from existing collections of
Gestes, Romances, and Tales. Without a spark of the fire of Chaucer, he writes with considerable amenity for the rude period in which he lived. A part of his works were printed by Caxton in 1483, and are thus among the earliest specimens of English typography. Gower was blind for some years before his death, which calamity appears to have been the frequent fate of poets. His tomb, decorated with his volumes and his effigy, the head garlanded with roses, is still to be seen in the church of St Mary Overey in Southwark, to the erection of which edifice he had liberally contributed. Gower's will is still extant, from which it appears that he was too rich a man to be a great poet.
Gower's verses show such uniform mediocrity, that it is impossible to find any tolerable specimen. The entire devotion of a lover to the wishes or caprices of his lady is expressed as follows. The allusion with which the passage concludes is to the Troilus and Creseide of Chaucer, probably not long written at that time :
That when her list on nights wake
Methinketh I touch not the floore:
This complaisance of a romantic lover is nothing to the absolute submission of Aristotle, who, after giving his pupil Alexander many counsels against love, falls in love himself with a Queen of Greece, who saddles and bridles the amorous philosopher, and rides him round her chamber. This tale or apologue is told in that mine of stories, called the Gesta Romanorum, from which our elder poets drew copiously.
Passing over several obscure names, half-forgotten even by antiquaries, the next English poet who continues the golden chain which links Chaucer to modern times, was John Lydgate, who is supposed to have been born about 1375. He was a monk, and lived in the Abbey of Bury; a scholar accómplished in all the learning of his time, and familiar with the works of the poets of France and Italy. Lydgate was the first author or versifier of all. work on record in our annals ; and as he always attempted bravely, and with full confidence in his own powers, he sometimes succeeded.“ If, says
(a) Gaiety, or way.