Thursday, October 13, 2016

"Oure dedes ben of o colour": John Gower wins a Nobel!

Alexander and the Pirate, from the Buch der Tugend (via ArtStor)

Brief words of congratulations are in order for John Gower's Nobel prize win. Like certain other prolific writers, Gower has produced "a large number of [verses] revolving around topics like the social conditions of man, religion, politics, and love." Surely we all know this representative moment?
It fell per chance upon a day
A rovere of the see was nome,
Which many a man hadde overcome
And slain and take here good aweie.
This pilour, as the bokes seie,
A famous man in sondri stede
Was of the werkes whiche he dede.
This prisoner tofor the king
Was broght, and there upon this thing
In audience he was accused.
And he his dede hath noght excused,
Bot preith the king to don him riht,
And seith, 'Sire, if I were of miht,
I have an herte lich to thin;
For if the pouer were myn,
Mi will is most in special
To rifle and geten overal
The large worldes good aboute.
Bot for I lede a povere route
And am, as who seith, at meschief,
The name of pilour and of thief
I bere; and thou, which routes grete
Miht lede and take thi begete,
And dost riht as I wolde do,
Thi name is nothing cleped so,
Bot thou art named "Emperour."*
Oure dedes ben of o colour
And in effect of o decerte,
Bot thi richesse and my poverte
Tho ben noght taken evene liche.

* "Steal a little and they throw you in jail
Steal a lot and they make you a king"

(via me, here)

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