Introduction of “Here begynneth a lytel treatyse called the co[n]traverse bytwene a lover and a jaye lately compyled” by Thomas Feylde

Thoughe laureate poetes in olde antyquyte
Fayned fables under clowdy sentence
yet some intytuled fruytefull moralyte
Some of love wrote grete cyrcumstaunce
Some of chevaulrous actes made remembraunce
Some as good phylosophres naturally endyted
Thus wysely and wyttely theyr tyme they spended.

Ovyde of love made matters wonderfull
Good to be knowen for eschewynge more evyll
But Calunace and Tybull with style moche paynful
Tenderly wrote of love dylectable
Gallus and Sappho ben nothynge profitable
For yonge folkes to rede of lusty courage
Lest they be taged in Venus bondage

Cancer floure of rethoryke eloquence
Compyled bokes pleasaunt and mervayllous
After hym noble Gower experte in scyence
wrote moralytyes herde and delycyous
But Lydgates workes are fruytefull & sentencyous
who of his bokes hathe redde the fine
He wyll hym call a famus rethorycyne

Yonge Steven Hawse whose soule god pardon
Treated of love so clerkely and well
To rede his werkes is myne affeccyon
whiche he compyled for Labell pusell
Remembrynge storyes fruytefull and delectable
I lytell or nought experte in poetry
Of lamentable love hathe made a dytty.

Notes: A jaye is a simple-minded and gullible person.
This poem is particularly interesting for its whistle-stop tour of poets known in the Tudor era:

Ovid (Publius Ovidius Naso) (43 BCE-17 AD) was a Latin/Roman poet during the reign of Augustus. He is considered to be the last of the Latin poets of love elegies.
– The exact poet known as Calunace is unclear but there is one theory that this refers to Catullus (c84-54 BCE). Gaius Valerius Catullus was a Latin/Roman poet famous for writing about personal life instead of classical heroes.
– Tybull probably refers to Tibullus (c55-19 BCE). Albius Tibullus was another Latin/Roman poet particularly known for his love poetry.
– Gallus (Gaius Cornelius Gallus) (c70-26 BCE) was a Latin/Roman poet, orator and politician. He is known by his reputation as a key figure in the creation of the Latin love-elegy. Only a few lines of his poetry have survived.
– Sappho (c630-c570 BCE) was a Greek poet from the island of Lesbos. She is another poet famous for her love poetry.
– I have been unable to find out who “Cancer” the “flower of rhetoric eloquence” was and what “pleasant and marvellous” books he compiled. My personal opinion – going by his place in the poem and the poets that follow him – is that this may be a reference to the English poet, Geoffrey Chaucer (1343-1400).
– John Gower (c1330-1408) was an English poet, a known contemporary and friend of Geoffrey Chaucer.
– John Lydgate (c1370-c1451) was an English monk and poet. His output was awe-inspiring, estimated at around 150,000 lines.
– Steven Hawse (c1474-1523) was a Tudor poet. He was supposed to be able to recite all the works of most of the known English poets with a particular partiality for the poet John Lydgate.
Labell – document.
Pusell – maiden/virgin/girl.

From: Feylde, Thomas, Here begynneth a lytel treatyse called the co[n]traverse bytwene a lover and a jaye lately compyled, 2003, Text Creation Partnership: Ann Arbor, Michigan and Oxford, p. [unnumbered].

Date: ?1527

By: Thomas Feylde (fl. ?1527-?1532)


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