Ne at Rome for the harm thurgh Hanniball,
That Romans hath venqueshed times three,
N'as herd swiche tendre weping for pitee,
As in the chambre was for hire parting,
But forth she mote, wheder she wepe or sing.

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O firste moving cruel firmament,
With thy diurnal swegh that croudest ay,
And hurtlest all from Est til Occident,
That naturally wold hold another way;
Thy crouding set the heven in swiche array
At the beginning of this fierce viage,
That cruel Mars hath slain this marriage.
Infortunat ascendent tortuous,

Of which the lord is helpeles fall, alas!
Out of his angle into the derkest hous.
O Mars, o Atyzar, as in this cas;
O feble Mone, unhappy ben thy pas,
Thou knittest thee ther thou art not received,
Ther thou were wel fro thennes art thou weived.

Imprudent emperour of Rome, alas!

Was ther no philosophre in al thy toun?
Is no time bet than other in swiche cas?
Of viage is ther non electioun,
Namely to folk of high conditioun,
Nat whan a rote is of a birth yknowe?
Alas! we ben to lewed, or to slow.

To ship is brought this woful faire maid
Solempnely, with every circumstance:
Now Jesu Crist be with you all, she said.
Ther n'is no more, but farewel fair Custance.
She peineth hire to make good countenance,
And forth I let hire sayle in this manere,
And turne I wol againe to my matere.

The mother of the Soudan, well of vices,
Espied hath hire sones pleine entente,
How he wol lete his olde sacrifices:

And right anon she for her conseil sente,
And they ben comen, to know what she mente,
And whan assembled was this folk in fere,
She set hire doun, and sayd as ye shul here.
Lordes, (she sayd) ye knowen everich on,
How that my sone in point is for to lete
The holy lawes of our Alkaron,

Yeven by Goddes messager Mahomete:
But on avow to grete God I hete,
The lif shal rather out of my body sterte,
Than Mahometes lawe out of myn herte.

What shuld us tiden of this newe lawe
But thraldom to our bodies and penance,
And afterward in helle to ben drawe,
For we reneied Mahound our creance?
But, lordes, wol ye maken assurance,
As I shal say, assenting to my lore?
And I shal make us sauf for evermore.

They sworen, and assented every man
To live with hire and die, and by hire stond:
And everich on, in the best wise he can,
To strengthen hire shal all his frendes fond.
And she hath this emprise ytaken in hond,
Which ye shull heren that I shal devise,
And to hem all she spake right in this wise.

We shul first feine us cristendom to take;
Cold water shal not greve us but a lite:
And I shal swiche a feste and revel make,
That, as I trow, I shal the Soudan quite.
For tho his wif be cristened never so white,

She shal have nede to wash away the rede,
Though she a font of water with hire lede.
O Soudannesse, rote of iniquitee,
Virago thou Semyramee the second,
O serpent under femininitee,

Like to the serpent depe in helle ybound:
O feined woman, all that may confound
Vertue and innocence, thurgh thy malice,
Is bred in thee, as nest of every vice.

O Sathan envious, sin thilke day That thou were chased from our heritage, Wel knowest thou to woman the olde way. Thou madest Eva bring us in servage, Thou wolt fordon this cristen mariage: Thin instrument so (wala wa the while!) Makest thou of women whan thou wolt begile.

This Soudannesse, whom I thus blame and Let prively hire conseil gon hir way:


What shuld I in this tale longer tarie?
She rideth to the Soudan on a day,
And sayd him, that she wold reneie hire lay,
And cristendom of prestes hondes fong,
Repenting hire she hethen was so long;

Beseching him to don hire that honour,
That she might han the cristen folk to fest:
To plesen hem I wol do my labour.

The Soudan saith, I wol don at your hest,
And kneling, thanked hire of that request;
So glad he was, he n’iste not what to say,
She kist hire sone, and home she goth hire way.

Arrived ben these cristen folk to londe

In Surrie, with a gret solempne route,


And hastily this Soudan sent his sonde,
First to his mother, and all the regne aboute,
And sayd, his wif was coming out of doute,
And praide hem for to riden again the quene,
The honour of his regne to sustene.

Gret was the presse, and riche was th'
Of Surriens and Romanes met in fere.
The mother of the Soudan riche and gay
Received hire with all so glad a chere,
As any mother might hire doughter dere:
And to the nexte citee ther beside
A softe pas solempnely they ride.


Nought trow I, the triumph of Julius,
Of which that Lucan maketh swiche a bost,
Was realler, or more curious,

Than was th' assemblee of this blisful host:
Butte this scorpion, this wicked gost,
The Soudannesse, for all hire flattering
Cast under this ful mortally to sting.

The Soudan cometh himself sone after this So really, that wonder is to tell:

And welcometh hire with alle joye and blis.
And thus in mirth and joye I let hem dwell.
The fruit of this matere is that I tell.
Whan time came, men thought it for the best
That revel stint, and men go to hir rest.

The time come is, this olde Soudannesse
Ordeined hath the feste of which I tolde,
And to the feste cristen folk hem dresse

In general, ya bothe yonge and olde.
Ther may men fest and realtee beholde,
And deintees mo than I can you devise,
But all to dere they bought it or they rise.

O soden wo, that ever art successour To wordly blis, spreint is with bitternesse Th' ende of the joye of our worldly labour: Wo occupieth the fyn of our gladnesse. Herken this conseil for thy sikernesse: Upon thy glade day have in thy minde The unware wo of harm, that cometh behinde. For shortly for to tellen at a word, The Soudan and the cristen everich on Ben all to-hewe, and stiked at the bord, But it were only dame Custance alone. This olde Soudannesse, this cursed crone, Hath with hire frendes don this cursed dede, For she hireself wold all the contree lede.

Ne ther was Surrien non that was converted, That of the conseil of the Soudan wot, That he n'as all to-hewe, er he asterted: And Custance han they taken anon fote-hot, And in a ship all stereles (God wot) They han hire set, and bidden hire lerne sayle Out of Surrie againward to Itaille.

A certain tresor that she thither ladde,
And soth to sayn, vitaille gret plentee,
They han hire yeven, and clothes eke she hadde,
And forth she sayleth in the salte see:

O my Custance, ful of benignitee,
O emperoures yonge doughter dere,
He that is lord of fortune be thy stere.

She blesseth hire, and with ful pitous vois
Unto the crois of Crist thus sayde she.

O clere, o weleful auter, holy crois,
Red of the lambes blood ful of pitee,
That wesh the world fro the old iniquitee,

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