John Gower/Confessio Amantis

John Gower/ Confessio Amantis
Book One: Pride

My father, I am amorous;

And for this reason I beseech

Some instance from yout that may teach

Me how love stands in this affair.
My son, I make thee now aware

That both in loving and in all,

If any surquidry befall,

Then ill indeed it may betide

That man who knows this vice of pride,

Which can make dreamers of the wise

And turn straightforwardess to lies,

Through folly of imagination.

And for thy further information,

That as I have advised thee thou

Mayst shun this vice, I tell thee now

A tale that comes from days of old,

One that learned Ovid told.

(Penguin Books, 1963, translated into modern English by Terence Tiller)
John Gower was a friend of Chaucer. His Confessio Amantis (The Lover’s Shrift), though it purports to be moral in tone, principally illustrates the medieval conventions of love with a vast collection of stories which are quaintly displayed within a framework of the Seven Deadly Sins. Longer even than the ‘ Canterbury Tales’, this great work remains a rare museum of medieval life.
I bought this little book when I was a student in 1968, at the University of Leuven, Belgium. Strange though it may sound, but I was fascinated by the dim and distant past revealed in dust collecting writings like this Confessio, and, simultaniously, I was raving about Rudi Dutschke, the Sorbonne, SDS and the likes.

Are we much younger than that now?


Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
Then comes the season of summer with soft winds,

When Zephyrus himself breathes on seeds and herbs.

In paradise is the plant that springs in the open

When, the dew having dripped and dropped from the leaves,

It bears the blissful gleam of the bright sun.

Then harvest comes hurrying, urging it on,

Warning it because of winter to wax ripe soon;

He drives the dust to rise with the drought he brings,

Forcing it to fly up from the face of the earth.

Wrathful winds in raging skies wrestle with the sun;

Leaves are lashed loose from the trees and lie on the ground

And the grass becomes grey which was green before.

What rose from root and bud now ripens and rots;

So the year in passing yields its many yesterdays,

And winter returns, as the way of the world is,

I swear;

So came the Michaelmas moon,

With winter threatening there,

And Gawain considered soon

The fell way he must fare.
‘Sir Gawain and the Green Knight’ is a masterpiece of medieval alliterative poetry. The unknown fourteenth century author has imbued his work with the heroic athmosphere of a saga, with the spirit of French romance, and with a Christian consciousness.

The poem could have been written towards the end of the 14th century. Only one manuscript still exists (in the British Museum) and it is sometimes attributed to the so-called Pearl poet, whose identity remains mysterious.
(Penguin Classics, 1959,1970)

Translated by Brian Stone


Autumn sun among the trees

Autumn sun among the trees
‘Walenbos’ and ‘Troostemberghbos’ are compact relics of massive stretches of wood, which were omnipresent in the Middle Ages, in the heart of Belgium., about 50km. away from Brussels. 
One photo was made through sunglasses in front of the lens.
1.In the wood


3.Sunny road ahead

Photos: this afternoon.


William Langland/ Piers the Ploughman

William Langland/ Piers the Ploughman
Book XIV

‘It is the only suit I have,’ daid Haukyn, ‘ so you can hardly blame me if it is often dirty. I even have to sleep in it at night. And what is more, I have a wife and children and servants ( “I have married a wife, And therefore I cannot come”), who keep messing it up in spite of all I can do! It has been washed dozens of times, in and out of Lent – scrubbed with the soap of Sickness which penetrates very deeply, and so cleansed by the loss of money, that I’ve shuddered at the very thought of offending God or any righteous man, so far as I could help it. I’ve been shriven by the priest too, and he gave me as a penance, patience,nand the task of feeding the poor, and told me to keep my coat clean if I wished to keep my baptismal faith. 

(Penguin Classics, 1959, 1970)
Piers the Ploughman, the work of an unknown minor cleric of the late fourteenth century, was perhaps the most widely read work of its day and is now recognized as the great representative English poem of the late Middle Ages.
I bought this lovely little book way back in 1970, when I was a student in Leuven, Belgium. I still have to finish reading it 😟. Meanwhile I think it is an important book , in literature, perhaps even more in philosophy and sociology.
Photo: today.