The Quatrefoil of Love


STC 15345
Brown and Robbins 1453; Ringler 15345 and TP 877.3. Ed. from MS by Sir Israel Gollancz, _An English Miscellany Presented to Dr Furnivall_ (1901), 113-32. UMI microfilm reel 71 (W)

The .iiii. leues of the trueloue
London: Wynkyn de Worde,1510?.

Composition Date: ante 1400? [Ringler].

Atter: 'gall'; see OED s.v. atter n.upper margin trimmed
sig: [A1]
The .iiii. leues of the trueloue
sig: [A1v]
The full set of readings from A supplied for lines 1 to 30 illustrates the significant degree of variance in the printed text from the surviving earlier manuscript versions, which show more clearly the Northern dialect origin of the text. Only select variants that clarify meaning in the 1510 print are supplied beyond this point. The print compositor or a prior copyist in the transmission process appears to have misunderstood the alliterative /rhymed stanzaic structure, with its bob and wheel. The bob, which should follow the eighth line of each stanza, has been attached to the first or second line of the three-line wheel, thus obscuring the triple end-rhyme. The misplaced bob is enclosed by curled brackets in the following transcription.
IN a mornyng of may whan medowes can sprynge can] sall A
Braunches and blossomes of bryght colours Braunches] Blomes A
As I wente by a well on my playenge
Thorowe a mery orcharde sayenge myn oures sayenge] bedande A
5 Where byrdes full bysely began for to synge The birdis one bewes bigane for to synge A
The bowes to borge on borde to the browes And bowes for to burgeon and belde to þe bour[es] A
I was ware of a may that made mornynge I was ware] Was I warre A
She sate and syghed amonge the fayre floures {so swete} Sekande and syghande amange þase floures so swete A
¶She made mournynge ynoughe
10 Her wepynge dyd my herte woo dyd my herte woo] dide woughe A; dyde me roghe B
To a derne I me droughe To a derne] Vndir a tree A
Her wyll for to knowe for to knowe] walde I wete A

¶Stylly I stalked and stode in that stede
To wytte of her wyll and of her wylde thought To wytte] For I walde wiete A
15 Then cast she her kercheffes the calle of hede Rafe scho hir kertchefs, hir kelle of hir hede A
Wronge she her handes and wrothly she wrought
¶She sayd mylde mary ryght thou my rede my] me A
Of all the welthe of the worlde wolde I nought For of alle þe wele of þis werlde I welde A; ... warlde I wys I walde noȜte B
But sende me some solase or sone I shall be dede But] omit A; solase] socour A; I shall be dede] be I dede A
20 A syghte of that selcath I haue it longe sought A] Som A
¶Then spake the turtyll on a tree {with care} the] a A
With fayre wordes and free wordes] notis A
Bryght byrde of bewte Thou birde for thi beaute A
Why syghest thou so sore

25 ¶O fayre foule spare not thy speche nor thy spell A thou faire foule faile noghte þi speche and þi spelle A
[Thy] kerpynge doth me comforte to herken and bere Thy] They W; Thi carpyng es comforthe to herkene and to here A
All my wyll and my thought wolde I the tell wyll] hert A
My wo and my wandrynge and thou wolde come nere Mi wo and my wandrethe walde þou come nere A
¶Then he lyghted louely with her for to dwell Than lufly he lyghtede walde he noghte duelle A
30 To comforte the comly and euer her chere the] þat A; euer] couer A
She blyssyd his body with boke and with bell
And loued our lady that sente her that fere
¶Whan I was sory
sig: A2
Besought I our lady {so fre}
35 And she sente me company
Blessyd maye she be

¶O fayre foule full of loue so mylde and swete
To medle on a mater nowe we maye begynne
Trueloue I haue sought fer by waye and by strete
40 In many fayre orchardes where floures be in
¶So ferre as I haue soughte sawe I none yet
Full fewe I haue founde of more or of myn
Bryght byrde of ble my sorowe myght thou bete
Wolde thou me wysshe wysely a trueloue to wynne
45 ¶For when I wene sonest
To fynde loue best {with ryght}
Then so feble is it fest
And fareth all on flyght

¶The wytte of wymen is wonder to here
50 Is all thy sory syghynge to seke a loue true
All thy lyfe dayes may thou seke and neuer none be nere
But yf thou had counsayle of one that I knewe
¶Yf thou be set to seke trueloue I shall the lere
Where it is spryngynge euermore newe
55 Without ony fautynge full fayre and full clere
Or castynge of coloures or chaungynge of hewe
¶I dare baldly [s]aye {full yare} saye] faye W, say A
Th[er] is no loue that lasteth aye Ther] Thre W, Ther A
Without treason or traye
60 But yf it begyn there

¶Loke where thou fyndest growyng a truloue gresse
That with .iiij. leues fully is set aboute
The fyrst lefe we maye lyken to the kynge of blysse
He that wrought all the worlde with
65 ¶He made heuen with his hande and all paradyse
And this mery mydell-erthe without ony doubte
All the welthe of the worlde holly is his
In whome we ought to lyue and lowe for to loute
¶Holde we this in mynde {full wele}
sig: [A2v]
70 Tyll we may these felawes fynde
The true loue and kynde
That neuermore shall kele

¶The seconde lefe of the trueloue I lyken to goddes sone
That to the fyrst lefe is felawe and fere
75 The thyrde to the holy goost togyder they wone
All hole in a godhede and persones thre
¶They be rulers of water sonne and of mone
The fourth lefe of pryce without ony pere
Whan the comly kynge is set in his trone comly] semly A
80 Comly of colours and curteyse of chere
¶All this worlde he began {with grace}
And of wyndes and waters wan
Then he marked man
After his owne face

85 ¶Fyrst he made Adam and than he made Eue
He put them in-to paradyse in grete degre
Forbyddynge nothynge to hym and his wyfe
But a grene apple that dyde growe on a tre
¶Than sory sathanas sought them belyfe
90 To awake our wo cursed myght he be
Then toke they the apple that styred moche stryfe
The foule fende was glad that syght for to se
¶The fyrst leue was wo {for tene}
Whan floures fell hym fro
95 That his frendes sholde to hell go
For an apple grene

¶Then began the fyrst lefe to mourne for vs all
For his holy handy-werke that was forlorne
Gabryell to hym he dyde call
100 Forth came he comly and kneled hym beforne
¶He sayd to mylde mary on message thou shall
To bere her gladde tydynges of her I wyll be borne
Thus he sent his sone out of his hye halle
sig: A3
To the mylde mayde on a mery morne
105 Gabryell with the fayre face
Sayd mary full of grace {and her gret}
Pyerles in euery place
With myrth thou arte met

¶Thou salte conceyue a chylde comly and clere salte: =shalte
110 All the bale of the worlde in the it shall be let
She sayd that were a meruayle and I a chylde sholde bere
For I was neuer maryed with no man yet
¶He sayd beholde to thy cosyn that hath conceyued to_yere
Elyzabeth in her age that longe hath ben led
115 O lorde I am thy mayde sayd mary so dere
And holy in thy seruyce is my herte set
¶Blyssed be the swete wyght
That goddes sone in lyght {full styll}
Become man full of myght
120 With the faders wyll

¶Now is the seconde lefe for our loue moost
Lyght in the lady that gabryell grete
Without ony treason true for to tryst
With myrthe in a mayde is god and man met
125 ¶This is the fader and the sonne and the holy goste
Thre lefes of loue without ony lette
The fourth is a mayde chosen for chaste
Suche another truloue was neuer in londe sette
¶The fourth lefe maye neuer fall {for bote}
130 But euer they sprynge shall
So gentely they Ioyne all
On a ryche roote

¶Now hathe the thyrde lefe a swete felowe taken
For loue in [our] lady is our [lorde] lyght our lady] lady W, oure lady A; lorde] lady W, lorde A
135 Ioseph her wedded and with her dyd gone
In the cyte of bethelem there buylded the bryght
sig: [A3v]
¶Bytwene an oxe and an asse pryde was there none
A blessed chylde there was borne on crystmas nyght
There rose a sterre stabely shewed and shone
140 Thre kynge[s] of colayne theron hadde a syght kynges] kynge W, kynges A
¶They offered to hym as they wolde {and sought}
Myrre Rykyls and golde
He thanked them many-folde
And to blysse he them brought

145 ¶Unhappy Herode the tydynges herde tell
That a chylde was borne that kynge sholde be
He dyde make messagers and sende them full snell
To slee all male chyldren in that countre
¶They lefte none alyue but all dyd they kyll
150 They spytted them on spere-poyntes grete pyte was to se
Ioseph with his wedded wyfe wolde no longer dwell
But ledde her in-to Egypte with her leues thre
¶The chyldren coude theyr dethe take
For the trueloue sake {for to saue}
155 More myrthe they dyde make
For hym-selfe wolde they haue

¶Yet wolde our lorde do more for his frendes dere
For his holy handy-werkes to helle wolde he gone
To gyue ensample his lawe for to lere
160 Saynt Iohan crystened hym in flome iordane
¶For .xxx. pens was he solde thorowe a false fere
Unto the Iewes that wolde hym haue slayne
All he suffred for our sake and hymselfe was clere
By a kysse was he knowen and sone was he taken
165 ¶It was grete pyte for to se {also}
When he sholde blenke of his ble
The seconde lefe of the thre
The fourth was full woo

Pylate was Iustyse and spake vp on hye
sig: [A4]
170 For to deme Ihesu that Iudas hathe solde
He sayd loke lordes trouthe for to trye
The semly is fautles saye what they wolde
¶The Iues on pylate began for to crye
He calleth hymselfe a kyng suche bourdes be to bolde
175 Yf thou wylte not deme hym to_daye for to dye
Loude before the emperoure the tale shall be tolde
¶A f[i]ry dome he gaue hym there firy] fury W, drery A, B
And sayd that he coude saye no more {for drede}
I rede ye take hym there
180 And forthe ye hym lede

¶Alas for the fourthe lefe was lefte alone
When her fayre felowshyp was taken and torne
Beten wi[t]h sharpe scourges body and bone with] wich W
Syth spred on a crosse and crowned with thorne
185 ¶Thorowe his handes and fete [the] nayles dyd gone the] herte W, þ e A
A bryght spere to his herte sharpely was borne
He shed his blode for our loue and lyfe leued hym none
A[t]ter and ayzell they gaue hym for scorne Atter] After W, Attir AAtter: 'gall'; see OED s.v. atter n.

¶It was grete pyte for to se {with gyle}
190 Whan he was nayled on a tre
The seconde lefe sycurly
Dyed for vs all

¶The fourthe lefe of the loke alone she stode
Wryngynge her handes and wepynge for woo
195 With a mournynge chere and mylde mode
Her sonnes coloure faded and wexed wonder blo
¶Downe by his whyte sydes ran the redde blode
Harde roches dyd ryue [the temple] in two the temple] and temples W, þ e temple A
Then swowned the fourth lefe and to the ground yode
200 Alas for the trueloue that it sholde twyne so
¶She sawe her dere sonne dye
Saynt Iohan stode her by {full yare}
sig: [A4v]
[To comforte] the lady upper margin trimmed
That was cast in care

205 ¶Yet spake the noble kynge that was nayled on the tre
To his moder so mylde that was mournyng that tyde
And sayd leue thy wepyng woman mourne not for me
Take Iohan too thy sone that wonneth the besyde
Iohan take mary to thy moder for to myrthe the
210 To kepe and to comforte your blysse for to byde
The hote blode of his sydes caused longes to se
That sought by a spere-shafte fro his woundes wyde
¶It was grete pyte for to se {that daye}
Whan he was take of the tree
215 The seconde lefe of the thre
Was closed in clay

¶Whan he was take of the rode and delued ful yare
All the welthe of the worlde with the iij. leues laye
The fourth for woo fell and syghed full sare
220 [And all] truth of the worlde was with the true maye And all] With W, and all A
¶Thoughe his manhede was dede his myght was the more
On his holy handy-werkes his herte was aye
The soule with the godhede to hell dyde fare
The body and the manhede dyd byde the iij. daye
225 ¶All that he with his handes had wrought
And [syth] with his blode bought {full yare} syth] sayth W, sythen A
Tyll they were out of bale brought
Hym longed full sare

¶Than sayd sory sathanas his so[r]owe was sadde sorowe] solowe W, sorowe A
230 For the syght of the selcuth he was nothynge fayne
He sayd to vs cometh som bodworde I trowe it be bad
What art thou with thy fayre face thus dyd hym frayne
¶Kynge of Ioye is my name thy gestes to gladde
Let me in for theyr loue thou sholde not layne
235 He sayd wende awaye with thy myght thou makest vs
sig: B1
all made
What sholde thou do in this pyt here is nothyng but payne
¶Whan they herde the kynge sp[e]ke speke] spake W, speke A
All theyr gates they dyd shyt {fast}
Sone the barres dyd breke
240 And all the bandes braste

¶For his holy handy-werkes there harowed he hell
All them brought out of bale that euer had ben his
Dauyd his derlynge made myrthe them amonge
With an herpe in his hande he harped I_wysse
245 ¶All his retenue out coude he tell
And of his grete mercy forgaue them theyr mysse
He sayd I was solde for your sake and suffred woundes wyde
And all my good chyldren be brought vnto blysse
¶The sothe is not to layne {on the roode}
250 Whan they were brought out of payne
To the blyssed body agayne
The holy goost yode

¶The fourth lefe of the trueloue was folden for wo
She was lefte mayde moder and wyfe
255 The fyrste lefe full of myght his wyll was so
By the assente of the thyrde lefe was there no stryfe
¶They reysed vp the seconde bytwene them two
Thorowe myght of the godhede from dethe vnto lyfe
He toke a crosse in his hande and forthe he dyd go
260 With his flesshe and his woundes fyfe
¶When he was rysen agayne {he yode}
He mette mary_magdalayne
It was no meruayle yf she was fayne
¶He was her leche good

265 ¶Forth wente mari_magdalayne with myrth and with mode
She tolde the tydynges to Thomas of ynde
How cryst was rysen agayne that shed his hert-blode
sig: [B1v]
[Truste this] Thomas thou shalte it true fynde Truste this] Trow now þis Aupper margin trimmed

¶Then spake Thomas in stede there he stode
270 Women be talkynge it cometh to them by kynde
He wolde neuer byleue it tyll cryste to hym yode
And apered to the apostles so clerkes hath in my[n]de W omits the bob: In hy A
¶He put his hande to his syde
He blessed all that tyme
275 That byleued on his woundes wyde
And sawe they neuer with eye

¶Forthe wente the semly the soth for to saye
To seke his dyssyples that euer were true
[Syth] to our lady that he had loued ay Syth] Sayth W, sythen A
280 All hole in his hurtes of hyde and of hewe
¶She was euer stable and styll and fayled neuer faye
The iiij. leues of troueloue they sprynge euer newe
Our lorde assended in-to heuen on holy thursdaye
Then folowed his moder with myrthes ynowe
285 ¶Before her sone she kneled downe {full euen}
With a good deuocyon
On her hede he set a crowne
And made her quene of heuen

¶The iiij. lefe of the trueloue blessed must she be
290 She may haue Ioye in her herte of her gentyll chylde
On his faders ryght hande her sone maye she se
And the holy ghost that to them can bylde
¶Now be they hole in one godhede and persones thre
And she is mayde of myght and moder full mylde
295 Suche a nother trueloue growed neuer on tre
Who-so trysteth on that trueloue shall not be gyled
¶Well is that wyght {so hende}
That maye be sure of the syght
Where euer is daye and euer lyght
300 And Ioye without ende
sig: B2

¶Thus hathe the fayre trueloue made vs all fre
Our soules out of bondage and bought vs on the rode
He commaunded vs to kepe and gaue pauste
Our soules out of synne for ony worldes good
305 ¶Moche sorow wolde we haue and we our soules myȜt se
When they be sonken in synne as [f]ysshe in a [fl]ode fysshe] rysshe W, fercost A; flode] stode W, flode A
Then abyde we in bondage in bale for to be
He that vs boughte with his holy herte-blode
¶He bad axe mercy whan we maye
310 And byd our lady for vs pray {to haue blysse}
Or we be closed in claye
Or elles of our myrthe shall we mysse

¶Blessyd be the trueloue so meke and so mylde
Sure and stedfast and stable in faye
315 Whan we haue wrathed iij. with our werkes wylde wrathed] wrethede A
The fourth lefe is gracyous and good vs to helpe aye
¶Then kneleth she downe before her dere chylde
Sore wepynge for our sake with her eyes graye
She is euer full of grace alas we were begyled
320 She wynneth with her wepynge many fayre praye
¶Syth she is welthe of our wele {for to kepe} welthe] welle A, B
And all our care wolde kele
Alas why make ye her to knele
And for our werkes wepe

325 ¶There is none in this worlde so doughty nor so dere
Kynge nor quene thoughe he were a crowne
Nor no fayre ladyes of coloures so clere
Whan dredfull dethe cometh it draweth all downe
¶Yet lyst vs neuer leue it for preste nor for fryer
330 Tyll we fele we fall with swelte and with swowne
Whan the bare body is broughte on bere
Than fayleth all felawshyp in felde and in towne Bob in A reads: Bot fonne
¶In a clothe be we knyt
sig: [B2v]
Syth put in a pyt {and erth vpon vs done}
335 Of all the worlde be we quyt
Forgoten be we soone

¶For the caytyf corse there is but lytell care
and we were sure of our soules where they sholde dwell
But nowe [no wyght] in this worlde so wyse [is] of lare no wyght] is nowe W, no wyghte A; is of] his of W, es of A
340 Nor no clerke in co[n]ynge that therof can tell conynge] comynge W, conynge A
¶How fer[r]e and how fele our soules must fare ferre] ferte W, ferre A
Hard wayes is to heuen and hasty to hell
In purgatory is grete payne whoso cometh there
Of moche wo shall they wyt that therin shall dwell
345 ¶What-so-euer we do here we fare {so longe}
Before vs shall we fynde there
We maye be sure of no more
When paynes be full stronge

¶When grete fyers grym be made in our gate
350 Then is there no glosynge but i[n] must we glyde in] it W, In A
When we be put in the payne so harde and so hote
We seke after socoure on euery syde
¶We crye after kynne-folke they come to vs to late
[W]hen [w]e haue felte the fyer faysed is our pryde When we] Then he W, When we A
355 Then of all our sorowe no sertayne [ende] we wate ende] W omits, ende A
But truste on the trueloue his mercy to abyde
¶Now is tyme to begynne {with drede}
The trueloue to wynne
That all our bales he maye blyn
360 Whan [w]e haue moost nede we] he W, we A

¶Of all the dayes that we haue lyued ones shall we knowe
Whan we remembre our foule synnes sore may we mone
Whan the grete lorde aboue his bemes shall blowe
And hye Iustyse shall syt in his trone
365 ¶And all the folke in the worlde shall ryse on a rowe
The quycke maye quake whan the dede shall vp-ryse
sig: B3
We may lette for no shame our synnes to showe
There is no golde nor fee that may make our maynpryse
¶For then is all our pryde gone {and kynne}
370 Our robes and our ryche pane
Saue a crysome alone
That we were crystened in

¶When we be called to the courte vs be_houeth to here
All shall be there sene bonde-men and free
375 The soule and the body that longe hath [b]en sere ben] sen W, bene A
Be_houeth to be present at the semble
¶Euery soule shall be sende to seke after his fere
Whan cryste well vs gather a grete lorde is he well: =will (A)
With our flesshe and our fell as we in worlde were
380 Neuer-more to sonder after that daye be
¶Our werkes be wryten and scorde
In a rolle of recorde {for to knowe}
Before the grete lorde
Full sharply to showe

385 ¶We must seke thyder in a symple tyer a symple tyer] sympille atyre A
Tremblynge and quakynge as lefe on a tree
Whan all the worlde is set with water and fyer
There is no wrenche nor no wyll wyll wysshe vs to fle
¶When cryste is greued he is a grym syer
390 So many synfull wretches as he there shall see
Then dare not his moder yf she wolde desyre
Not speke to her son so dredfull is he
¶All t[he] sayntes in heuen {that daye} the] to W, þ e A
They shall be styll of theyr steuen
395 They dare not a worde meuen meuen] neuen A
For no man to praye

¶The werckes of mercy he wyll reken them seuen
When I was [hungry] how hardly haue ye me fedde hungry] thrusty W, hungry A
When I was thrusty how hardly haue ye me gyuen
sig: [B3v]
400 When I was naked how haue ye me cledde
¶When I was housles harbowred ye me euen
Or vysyte me in syknes or sought to my bedde
Or comforted me in pryson that wo[l]de I here [n]euen wolde] worde W, wolde B; neuen] meuen, neuen B
Or brought me to buryeng when deth hath me sted
405 ¶Or lorde when sawe we the {they saye}
Euer in ony suche degree
He sayd the leest in the name of me
That thou myght praye

¶He wyll shewe vs his woundes blody and bare
410 All he suffred for our sake bytter and wyde
Kynges and quenes before hym must fare
Bysshoppes and barons all must abyde
¶Erles and Emperoures none wyll he spare
Prestes nor prelates or persones of pryde
415 Iustyse and Iuges of lawe and of lere
That now be full ryall to rynne and to ryde
¶Theyr dome shall they take there
Ryght as they haue demed here {in londe}
When they were of myght more
420 And domes had in hande

¶Ryche ladyes that hathe robes full yare
Ryches and rubyes with gownes full wyde
Bendes and myrroures and fyllettes full fayre
Golde on theyr garlondes with perre and pryde
425 ¶Kalle and kercheffes that coucheth on theyr heyre
So [shaply] and shynynge to shewe by theyr syde shaply] sharply W, schaply A
All that welthe is awaye and myrth moche more
But yf we wyn the truloue vnglad maye we glyde
¶Betyme is best to begyn {for sorowe}
430 Or we be sonken in synne
For then is nother kyth nor kynne
Fro bale may vs borowe
sig: [B4]

¶By lordes and ladyes all I wyll not saye
But some-thynge by other folkes that I fynde full wele
435 The galande gedlynge that kythis gentry galande] galiarde A
With daynty damoyselles no man may dele
¶They haue purfels and perles and heddes full hye
Thoughe her corse be [in] the myddle of her kattell in] W omits, in A
Yf men talke of her kynne awaye wyll she wrye
440 Her fader and moder fayre wolde she hyll hyll] hele A
¶When that daye shall begyn {and tyde}
No man shall shame with theyr kynne
All shall shame with theyr synne
And with theyr foule pryde

445 ¶The dome of the trueloue full sore maye we drede
For then is all the tyme past of mercy to craue
When euery man is demed after his owne dede
Then may not our-selfe sterte and sende forthe our knaue
¶For he rekeneth by reason so clerkes can rede
450 He setteth on his ryght hande the soules that he wyll saue
The synfull wretches that maye not spede
Shall stande on his lefte hande [and wo shall they] haue and wo shall they] awaye for to W, and wa sall þay B
¶Then wyll our lady wepe sore
For sorowe that she shall se there {for aye}
455 Whan she maye helpe no more
Grete mournynge shall be that daye

¶Now is tyme for to speke for them that wyll spede
And seke after socoure and foly to flee
And not on domes-daye whan we haue moost nede
460 Now is moche mercy and then wyll none be
¶When our dere lady dare not for drede
Speke to her dere sone so dredfull is he
How maye we axe mercy for our mysdede
That wyll not folowe to it whan it is fre
465 There is no waye but ij. {thore}
sig: [B4v]
Wheder that we shall go
To wele and to woo
To dwell for euermore

¶Thus the bryght byrde taught the true maye
470 And she blessyd his body his bone and his blode
To the fourthe lefe I rede that we praye
That she wolde our message do with a mylde mode
¶And speke for the loue before the last daye
To the thyrde lefe gracyous and good
475 The loue of the iiij. leues that we wynne maye
That grace graunt grete god that dyed on the rood
¶This I herde in a valaye {walkynge}
As I wente on my waye
In a mournynge of maye
480 Whan medowes can sprynge
Enprented at London in Flete_strete at the sygne o[f]of] ot W the sonne / by wynkyn_de_worde.