The Devonshire Manuscript/O very lord / o loue / o god alas

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The Devonshire Manuscript
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And now my pen alas wyth wyche I wryte O ye louers that hygh vpon the whele
The Devonshire Manuscript facsimile 29v

f. [29v]

1    O very lord / o loue / o god alas
2    That knowest best myn hert / & al my thowght
3    What shal my sorowful lyfe donne in thys caas
4    Iff I forgo that I so dere haue bought
5    Syns ye [      ] / & me hau fully brought
6    Into your grace / and both our hat hertes sealed
7    howe may ye suffer alas yt be repealed

8    What I maye doo I shall / whyle I may dure
9    onlyue / in torment and in creuel payne
10    Thys infortune / or thys dysaventure
11    alone as I was borne I wyl complayne
12    ne neuer wyl I sene yt shyne or rayne
13    but ende I wyl as edyppe in derkenesse
14    my sorowful lyfe / and so dy in dystresse

15    O wery goste / that ere errest to and fro
16    why wyld thow not flye owt off the wofullest
17    Body [] that euer myght on grounde go
18    o soule / lurkyng in thys woful nest
19    flye forth owt my herte and yt breste
20    and folowe alwaye [      ] thy lady dere
21    thy ryght place ys nowe no lenger here

Commentary[edit]

Entered by TH2, this is an excerpt from Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde, Book IV, 288-308. TH2 may have copied the lines from Thynne’s edition of Chaucer (c. 1532). In this passage, Troilus has just found out about Criseyde’s exile from Troy and laments the fickleness of Fortune. This particular passage shows his great distress; Troilus wishes to die and wants his soul to follow Criseyde. The Devonshire Manuscript contains other verses from Troilus and Criseyde (see: "And now my pen alas wyth wyche I wryte" (29v(1)), "O ye louers that hygh vpon the whele" (30r), "for thylke grownde that bearyth the wedes wycke" (59v), "yff yt be so that ye so creuel be" (91r(2)), "Wo worthe the fayre gemme vertulesse" (91v(1)), "for loue ys yet the moste stormy lyfe" (91v(2)), "Also wyckyd tonges byn so prest" (91v(3)), "And who that sayth that for to love ys vyce" (92r), and "but now helpe god to quenche all thys sorow" (93r).Other medieval and Chaucerian excerpts in the manuscript, possibly copied from Thynne's edition, include selections from Hoccleve, "Womans harte vnto no creweltye" (89v(1)) and "ys thys afayre avaunte / ys thys honor" (89v(2)); Richard Roos' La Belle Dame Sans Merci, "O marble herte and yet more harde perde" (90r(1)) and "Alas what shuld yt be to yow preiudyce" (90r(2)); the Chaucerian "Remedy of Love" first printed in Thynne's edition "yff all the erthe were parchment scrybable" (90r); and Chaucer's Anelida and Arcite, "for thowgh I had yow to morow agayne" (91r).

Bradley J. Irish has named this poem among those whose "unmistakable topicality" has sparked scholarly interest.[1] Indeed, "O very lord/ o loue / o god alas" features two intentional gaps omitting the name “Criseyde” from Chaucer’s version – one at line 5 and the other at line 20. Siemens, Bond, and Armstrong confirm Lerer, Heale, and Watkins's commentary on the significance of the gaps in the text: the metre and sense requires the reader to insert a name.[2] The spaces in this poem, which was likely copied into the manuscript during Howard's imprisonment, could easily accommodate the name "Margaret" without disrupting the poem's metre.

Works Cited[edit]


Textual Notes[edit]

Texts Collated[edit]

STC 5068

Collation[edit]

1      O very lord / o loue / o god alas] omit  T5068.15 T5068.18     lord / o] lorde/ O T5068.14     loue /] loue/ T5068.14 
2      That knowest best myn hert / & al my thowght] omit T5068.15 T5068.18     hert /] hert/ T5068.14     thowght] thought T5068.14 
3      What shal my sorowful lyfe donne in thys caas] omit T5068.15 T5068.18     sorowful] sorouful T5068.14     donne] done T5068.14     thys] this T5068.14     caas] caas T5068.14 
4      Iff] If T5068.14     Iff I forgo that I so dere haue bought] omit T5068.15 T5068.18 
5      Syns] Sens T5068.14     Syns ye / & me hau fully brought] omit T5068.15 T5068.18     ye /] ye Creseyde T5068.14     hau] haue T5068.14 
6      Into] In to T5068.14     Into your grace / and both our hat hertes sealed] omit T5068.15 T5068.18     grace /] grace/ T5068.14     hat hertes] hertes T5068.14 
7      howe] Nowe T5068.14     howe may ye suffer alas yt be repealed] omit T5068.15 T5068.18     suffer] suffre T5068.14     yt] it T5068.14 
8      What] what T5068.18     What I maye doo I shall / whyle I may dure] omit T5068.14 T5068.15     maye] may T5068.18     doo] done T5068.18     shall / whyle] shal/whyle T5068.18 
9      onlyue / in torment and in creuel payne] omit T5068.14 T5068.15     onlyue /] On lyue/ T5068.18     torment] turment T5068.18     creuel] cruel T5068.18 
10      Thys infortune / or thys dysaventure] omit T5068.14 T5068.15     Thys infortune / or] This infortune/or T5068.18     thys] this T5068.18     dysaventure] disauenture T5068.18 
11      alone] Alone T5068.18     alone as I was borne I wyl complayne] omit T5068.14 T5068.15     wyl] wol T5068.18 
12      ne] Ne T5068.18     ne neuer wyl I sene yt shyne or rayne] omit T5068.14 T5068.15     wyl] wol T5068.18     yt] it T5068.18 
13      but] But T5068.18     but ende I wyl as edyppe in derkenesse] omit T5068.14 T5068.15     wyl] wol T5068.18     edyppe] Edippe T5068.18     derkenesse] derknesse T5068.18 
14      my sorowful lyfe / and so dy in dystresse] omit T5068.14 T5068.15     my sorowful lyfe / and so dy] My sorouful lyfe/ and dyen T5068.18     dystresse] distresse T5068.18 
15      O] O T5068.15     O wery goste / that ere errest to and fro] omit T5068.14 T5068.18     goste / that] goste/that T5068.15     ere errest] errest T5068.15 
16      why wyld thow not flye owt off the wofullest] omit T5068.14 T5068.18     why wyld thow not flye owt off] Why nylt thou flyen out of T5068.15 
17      Body that euer myght on grounde go] omit T5068.14 T5068.18     Body ] Body  T5068.15     myght] might T5068.15 
18      o soule / lurkyng in thys woful nest] omit T5068.14 T5068.18     o soule / lurkyng] O soule/lurkyng T5068.15     thys] this T5068.15     nest] neste T5068.15 
19      flye forth owt my herte and yt breste] omit T5068.14 T5068.18     flye forth owt my] Flye forthout myn T5068.15     herte] herte/ T5068.15     yt] let it T5068.15     breste] preste T5068.15 
20      and folowe alwaye thy lady dere] omit T5068.14 T5068.18     and folowe alwaye] And folowe alway Creseyde T5068.15 
21      thy ryght place ys nowe no lenger here] omit T5068.14 T5068.18     thy ryght place ys] Thy right place is T5068.15