Lament for Sir William

My gentil rederes, yif it be nat oon thynge, it is an oothir. For a while, ich was bisy with werke building an "fortified compound" for Kynge Richard. It semeth parliament was merciles this yeere. That did ete up much of my tyme ovir the seson of Yule.

And now of late, ich haue been soore depressid to heere of the deeth of myn freend Sir William, yclept Ulrich of Liechtenstein for a certayn tyme, with whom ich did travel in Fraunce about XXXX poundes ago. Ich haue sat in my room going thurgh oold joustinge programes and thinkinge of thos jours d'alcyone.

Thogh my pen is but a sely thing, bettir fit for ditees and smal jokes and puns, yet ich koud nat but trye to write sum few lynes of rym for the memorie of my good freend, the which ich share heere. Ich knowe that newes of his deeth hath long ben known, and many wyse folk have seyd thinges of hym, yet tak this rym-doggerel for my part.


Yif al the woe and teeres and hevinesse
And eek the sorwe, compleynte and wamentynge
That man hath heard in thes yeeres of distresse
Togedir were y-put, too light a thynge
It sholde be for this yonge knightes mournynge.
Withouten hym this world can no wey plese,
Fulfild it is of shadwe and disese.

In sorwe and teeres and eek in hevinesse
Stand Roland, Wat, and Kate, his compaigyne,
(And eek mynself, the forger of noblesse):
Sir Deeth wyth falshede and wyth sorcerye
Hath slayn thys knight who never feered to dye,
Of honor nat of lyf took Ulrich kepe.
A see of teeres nys nat ynogh to wepe.

Proud Deth, yower trophie is our hevinesse,
Your heraud may ful loude yel and crie,
For thou hast slayn the flour of hardinesse:
Sir Ulrich knewe the herte of chivalrie
And evir daunce he coud to melodye;
A silent yere he spent oones in a toun
In Itaylye to understonde a roun.

This feble world fulfild of hevinesse
Offreth us nat but wo, o welaway!
No thyng it hath may us give restfulnesse
For yisterday was noblere and moore gay
Than thys clipt peni that we hold today.
On Ulrich spende yower XII last silver teeres
Syn now departid aren hys golden yeeres.

He chaungid hys sterres, ros out of lowlinesse,
Bicam the man that fyrst did make me thinke
Our dedes nat our birth bring gentilesse –
And when ich was depe in the dice and drinke
He bought my pants ayein, it is no nay
May hevenes blisse repay that charité!
For blessed on erthe are al who had the chaunce
To walk the gardyn of his turbulaunce.

21 comment "Lament for Sir William"

  1. That was lovely. Sad and funny.

    Thank you.

  2. I weep a bit, still and again, upon reading these words--so much so that I cannot frame my response but simply and with the straightest path; forgive my pleine speache.

    Thank you, completely, for these words of tribute to Sir William. He was, indeed, a great, great man and the very best exemplar of true nobility. I share his story each winter in attempting to help my students understand the point you make--that gentilnesse is a virtue exhibited by act rather than "station". That lovely boy will be sore missed in this sphere.

  3. Verraily, by Seint John!

    (In the laste vers: pants? "Breche," as thoughte me; but I am no poete.)

  4. Alas and welaway, Sir William's deth dyd cause me mikel and myghty payne. Merci beaucoup for this luveli remembraunce of his lyfe. Per chaunce he looketh uponne us from the eighthe spere and lougheth with Troilus in their hevenly joye togedir.

  5. Lovely, thank you for sharing it.

  6. Thov hast indited moste fyn and honourable uerse, maistre Chavcer. Tharte in verray dede the floure of poetes, and thyne verses anent Sire William do muchel honneure to his name.

  7. Bravo! Encore une fois...He should be well remembered.

  8. He was a verray parfait, gentil knight
    Thyne poesy dost honour him aright.

  9. Myne Dere Syr Geoffrey,
    Yer poem of dedicacion to yer dere frende William bringeth teeris to myne yen fir tis muchel brighte praise towardes hys lyfe and memorie. Misseth and prayeth fir hym and his familie and frendis doth we alle.
    May our Lorde Jesu Christe blesse thou.

  10. Wow. Once I got it, wow. (Alas, I cannot express my admiration in the proper ancient tongue. I hope that you can translate?) I believe this is the best lament upon his death I have yet seen.

  11. I'm sorry to hear of your friend's passing.

    I almost hate to spoil the moment, however I found something you might enjoy.

  12. Alas poor Will. At least they mayde a filme of his lyfe ;)

    'tis one of my favourites
    as i wrote too.

  13. It is sad indeed. Perhaps sorrow might be somewhat eased by a brief visit to his folk in Gueldrelonde, where it is said that although he did ransom your trews and return them, yet still among his own clothing, these long years he has kept and cherished a shirt that was once yours.

  14. Perhaps a visit to his family might ease some sorrow. There in Gueldrelonde, it is said that although he did ransom your trews and return them to you, yet still these long years he has kept safe among his own clothing a shirt that once was yours.

  15. Dear Mr. Chaucer:

    The editors at Weird Tales magazine would fain publish this Lament in our next print edition, if you might be so amenable.

    It is a fine eulogy, one we feel many of our readers would appreciate. Furthermore, your byline in our annals alongside those of Messrs. Lovecraft and Bradbury would be a delightful thing indeed.

    This note is quite serious. Please, contact us anon: segal AT weirdtales DOT net.

  16. Thank you for taking the time to memorialize Lord William so. His passing left us filled with sorrow and your good words have eased the heaviness some.

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