Bow then your neck undir that blisful yoke
Of sovereigneté, nought of servíse,
Which that men clepe spousail
And think too, lord, among your thoughtes wise,
How that our dayes passe in sondry wyse;
though we slepe, or wake, or rome, or ryde,
Ay fleeth the tyme, it will no man abyde.
And though your grene youthe floure to day,
In crepith age alway as stille as stone,
And deth menáceth
every age, to slay
Ech man and al, for ther escapith none.
And as certéyn, as we knowe every one
shal deye, so uncertéyn we alle
Be of that day that deth shal on us falle.
Accepte thenne of us the trewe entent,
That never yit refusid al youre hest,
And we wil, lord, if that ye wil
Choose you a wyf, in short tyme atte lest,
Born of the gentilest and the highest
Of al this lond, so
that it oughte seme
Honour to God and you, as we can deme.
Deliver us out of al this careful drede
And tak a wyf, for hye Goddes sake.
For if it so bifel, which God
That deth to your lignage an end shuld make,
And that a straunge súccessoúr shulde take
heritage, O! wo were us alive!
Wherfor we pray yow hastily to wyve.
There meeke prayer and there piteous chere
Made the marquys for to have pitee.
Ye wolde, quoth he,
myn owne peple deere,
To that I never thought constreigne me.
I me rejoysid in my libertee,
tyme is founde in mariáge;
Where I was free, I must be in serváge.
But natheles I see your trewe entent,
And trust unto your wit, and have doon ay;
Wherfor of my free wil I
To wedde me, as soon as ever I may.
But wher as ye have profred me to day
To choose me a
wyf, I wol release
That choys, and pray you of that profre cease.
For God it wot, that childer oft have been
Unlik there worthy eldris them bifore;
Bountee cometh al of
God, nought of the strain
Of which thay be engendrid and i-bore.
I trust in Goddis bountee, and therfóre
mariáge, and myn estat and rest,
To God I leve, he shal do atte best.
Let me alone in choosing of my wif,
That charge upon my bak I wil endure.
But I you pray, and charge
upon your lyf,
That what wyf that I take, ye me assure
To worshippe whil that hir lif may endure,
and werk, bothe heer and every where,
As she an emperoures doughter were.
And forthermor thus shal ye swere, that ye
Against my chois shal never murmur or stryve,
For since I
shal forgo my libertee
At your request, so may I ever thrive,
Where my own hert is set, ther wil I wyve.
save ye wil assent in such manére,
I pray you spek no more of this matére.
With herty wil thay sworen and assenten
To al this thing, ther sayde no wight nay,
Bysechyng him of grace,
ere that thay wenten,
That he wolde graunte them a certeyn day
Of his spousail, as soone as ever he
For yit alway the peple som what dredde
Lest that the marquys wolde no wyf wedde.
He graunted them a day, as seemed best,
On which he wolde be weddid certeynly;
And sayd he dede al
this at there requeste.
And thay with humble hert obediently,
Knelyng upon there knees ful reverently,
thanken alle, and thus thay have an ende
Of their entent, and hom agein they wende.
And herupon he to his officeris
Comaundith al the feste to prepare,
And to his privé knightes and squyéres
charge gave to do his wil with care:
And thay obeyen his word in al manére,
And ech of them doth al his
To do unto the feste reverence.
Nought fer fro this same palys honuráble,
Wher as this marquys shaped his mariáge,
Ther stood a thorp,
of sighte delitáble,
In which the pore folk of that világe
Hadden their bestes and their pasturage,
labour took their sustenaúnce,
Of which the erthe gaf them ábundaúnce.