Posts tagged ‘prologue’

Saturday, 28 December 2019

Prologue from “The Lost Lover” by Delarivier Manley

The first Adventurer for her fame I stand,
The Curtain’s drawn now by a Lady’s Hand,
The very Name you’d cry bolas Impotence,
To Fringe and Tea they shou’d confine their. Sence,
And not outstrip the bounds of Providence.
I hope then Criticks, since the Case is so,
You’l scorn to Arm againsti a Worthless Foe,
But curb your Spleen and gall, and trial make,
How our fair Warriour gives her first Attack.
Now all ye chattering Insects straight be dumb,
The Men of Wit and Sense are hither come,
Ask not this Mask to Sup, nor that to show
Some Face more ugly than a Fifty Beau,
Who, if our Play succeeds, will surely say,
Some private Lover helpt her on her way,
As Female Wit were barren like the Moon,
That borrows all her influence from the Sun.
The Sparks and Beaus will surely prove our Friends,
For their good Breeding must make them commend
What Billet Deux so e’re: a Lady sends.
She knew old Thread-bare Topicks would not do,
But Beaus a Species thinks it self still new,
And therefore the resolved to Coppy you.

From: Manley, Mrs., The Lost Lover; or, The Jealous Husband: A Comedy, 1696, R. Bently, F. Saunders, J. Knapton, and R. Wellington: London, p. [unnumbered].

Date: 1696

By: Delarivier Manley (c1670-1724)

Wednesday, 10 April 2019

Lines 232-245 from “The Life of Saint Katherine, Prologue” by John Capgrave with rough rendering into modern English by flusteredduck

Aftyr him nexte I take upon me
To translate this story and set it more pleyne,
Trostyng on other men that her charyté
Schall help me in this caas to wryght and to seyne.
Godd send me part of that hevynly reyne
That Apollo bare abowte, and eke Sent Poule;
It maketh vertu to growe in mannes soule.

If ye wyll wete what that I am,
My cuntré is Northfolke, of the town of Lynne;
Owt of the world to my profyte I cam
Onto the brotherhode whech I am inne.
Godd geve me grace nevyr for to blynne
To folow the steppes of my faderes before,
Whech to the rewle of Austen were swore.

After him next I take upon me
To translate this story and set it more plain,
Trusting on other men that her charity
Shall help me in this cause to write and to say,
God send me part of that heavenly rain
That Apollo bore about, and also Saint Paul:
It makes virtue to grow in man’s soul.

If you will know what that I am,
My country is Norfolk, of the town of Lynn;
Out of the world to my profit I came
Onto the brotherhood which I am in,
God give me grace never for to cease
To follow the steps of my fathers before,
Which to the rule of Austen were swore*.

*In other words, he is a monk of the order of Saint Augustine.


Date: 1440s

By: John Capgrave (1393-1464)

Friday, 4 January 2019

Prologue from “Life of St. Anne” by Osbern Bokenham with rough translation into almost modern English by flusteredduck

If I hadde cunnyng and eloquens
My conceytes craftely to dilate,
Als whilom hadde the fyrsh rethoryens
Gowere, Chauncere, and now Lytgate,
I wolde me besyn to translate
Seynt Anne Lyf into oure langage.
But sekyr I fere to gynne so late,
Lest men wolde ascryven it to dotage.
For wel I know that fer in age
I am runne, and my lyves date
Aprochith faste, and the fers rage
Of cruel Deth – so wyl my fate
Inevytable – hath at my gate
Set hys carte to carye me hens;
And I ne may ne can, thau I hym hate,
Ageyn hys fors make resistens.

Wherfore me thinkyth, and sothe it ys,
Best were for me to leve makynge
Of Englysh, and suche as ys amys
To reformyn in my lyvynge.
For that ys a ryght sovereyn cunnynge:
A man to knowen hys trespasce,
Wyth ful purpos of amendynge,
As ferforth as God wyl grawnte hym grace.
For whil a man hath leysere and space
Here in this wordlys abydynge,
Or than that Deth his brest enbrace,
To ransake his lyf in alle thynge
And wyth his conscience to make rekenynge
And ryhtyn ageyn al that wronge is,
He may not fayle, at his partynge
Owt of his lyf, to gon to blys.

If I had cunning and eloquence
My craftly conceits to dilate,
As in former days had the first rhetoricians
Gower, Chaucer, and now Lydgate,
I would me attempt to translate
Saint Anne’s life into our language.
But truly I fear to begin so late,
Lest men should ascribe it to dotage.
For well I know that far in age
I am run, and my life’s date
Approaches fast, and the fears rage
Of cruel Death – so will my fate
Inevitable – have at my gate
Set his cart to carry me hence;
And I may not nor can, though I him hate,
Against his force make resistance.

Wherefore me thinks, and truly it is,
Best were for me to leave making
Of English, and such as is amiss
To reform in my living.
For that is a right sovereign cunning;
A man to know his trespasses,
With full purpose of amending,
As insofar as God will grant him grace.
For while a man has leisure and space
Here in this world’s abiding,
Before that Death his breast release,
To ransack his life in all things
And with his conscience to make reckoning
And right again all that wrong is,
He may not fail, at his parting
Out of his life, to go on to bliss.


Date: c1447

By: Osbern Bokenham (?1393-?1494)

Wednesday, 8 August 2018

Prologue from “Canidia, or, The Witches, A Rhapsody, etc.” by Robert Dixon

Fair Ladies ’tis past time of Woing,
More Work’s cut out, up and be doing;
Censure severely all Male-contents,
Inflict Impartial Punishments;
Spare none that shall deserve your Ire,
Though you set all the World a Fire.
Hanging and Burning, you know the worst,
To be counted of all Accurst.
Bussle through all Orders, Run the Rounds,
And scorn the Military Frowns:
Venture at any Thing that’s Evil,
Be bold, and fear not Man nor Devil.

From: Dixon, Robert, Canidia, or, The Witches a rhapsody, in five parts, 2009, Text Creation Partnership: Ann Arbor, Michigan and Oxford, pp. [unnumbered].

Date: 1683

By: Robert Dixon (16??-1688)

Friday, 20 January 2017

Prologue to “The Man of Mode or, Sir Fopling Flutter – A Comedy” by Carr Scrope

Like dancers on the ropes poor poets fare,
Most perish young, the rest in danger are;
This, one would think, should make our authors wary,
But, gamester like, the giddy fools miscarry.
A lucky hand or two so tempts ’em on,
They cannot leave off play till they’re undone.
With modest fears a muse does first begin,
Like a young wench newly enticed to sin;
But tickled once with praise, by her good will,
The wanton fool would never more lie still.
’Tis an old mistress you’ll meet here to-night,
Whose charms you once have look’d on with delight;
But now of late such dirty drabs have known ye,
A muse o’th’ better sort’s ashamed to own ye.
Nature well drawn, and wit, must now give place
To gaudy nonsense and to dull grimace:
Nor is it strange that you should like so much
That kind of wit, for most of yours is such.
But I’m afraid that while to France we go,
To bring you home fine dresses, dance, and show,
The stage, like you, will but more foppish grow.
Of foreign wares why should we fetch the scum
When we can be so richly served at home?
For, heaven be thank’d, ’tis not so wise an age
But your own follies may supply the stage.
Though often plough’d, there’s no great fear the soil
Should barren grow by the too frequent toil,
While at your doors are to be daily found
Such loads of dunghill to manure the ground.
’Tis by your follies that we players thrive,
As the physicians by diseases live;
And as each year some new distemper reigns,
Whose friendly poison helps t’increase their gains,
So among you there starts up every day
Some new unheard-of fool for us to play.
Then for your own sakes be not too severe,
Nor what you all admire at home, damn here:
Since each is fond of his own ugly face,
Why should you, when we hold it, break the glass?

From: Etherege, Sir George, The Man of Mode or, Sir Fopling Flutter – A Comedy by George Etherege 1676, 2009, Eithin Acting Edition, p. 3.

Date: 1676

By: Carr Scrope (1649-1680)

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Prologue to “Lais” by Marie de France

Whoever gets knowledge from God, science,
and a talent for speech, eloquence,
Shouldn’t shut up or hide away;
No, that person should gladly display.
When everyone hears about some great good
Then it flourishes as it should;
When folks praise it at full power,
Then the good deed’s in full flower.
Among the ancients it was the tradition
(On this point we can quote Priscian)

When they wrote their books in the olden day
What they had to say they’d obscurely say.
They knew that some day others would come
And need to know what they’d written down;
Those future readers would gloss the letter,
Add their own meaning to make the book better.
Those old philosophers, wise and good,
Among themselves they understood
Mankind, in the future tense,
Would develop a subtler sense
Without trespassing to explore
What’s in the words, and no more.

Whoever wants to be safe from vice
Should study and learn (heed this advice)
And undertake some difficult labor;
Then trouble is a distant neighbor–
From great sorrows one can escape.
Thus my idea began to take shape:
I’d find some good story or song
To translate from Latin into our tongue;
But was the prize worth the fight?
So many others had already tried it.
Then I thought of the lais I’d heard;
I had no doubt, I was assured
They’d been composed for memory’s sake
About real adventures–no mistake:
They heard the tale, composed the song,
Sent it forth. They didn’t get it wrong.
I’ve heard so many lais, I would regret
Letting them go, letting people forget.
So I rhymed them and wrote them down aright.
Often my candle burned late at night.

In your honor, noble king,
Whose might and courtesy make the world ring–
All joys flow from you or run to you,
Whose heart is the root of every virtue–
For you these lais I undertook,
To bring them together, rhymed, in this book.
In my heart I always meant
To offer you this, my present.
Great joy to my heart you bring
If you accept my offering–
I’ll be glad forever and a day!
Please don’t think that I say
This from conceit–pride’s not my sin.
Just listen now, and I’ll begin.


Date: 12th century (original); 1992 (translation)

By: Marie de France (12th century)

Translated by: Judith P. Shoaf (19??- )

Saturday, 3 January 2015

Prologue by Anne Bannerman

Turn from the path, if search of gay delight
Lead thy vain footsteps back to ages past!
Frail are the blighted flowers, and thinly cast
O’er the dim regions of monastic night.

Yet, in their cavern’d dark recesses, dwells
The long-lost Spirit of forgotten times,
Whose voice prophetic reach’d to distant climes,
And rul’d the nations from his witched cells;

That voice is hush’d! — But still, in Fancy’s ear,
Its first unmeasur’d melodies resound!
Blending with terrors wild, and legions drear,
The charmed minstrelsy of mystic sound,
That rous’d, embodied, to the eye of Fear,
Th’ unearthly habitants of faery ground.

From: Bannerman, Anne, Poems. A New Edition, 1807, Mundell, Doig, & Stevenson: Edinburgh, p. 138.

Date: 1800

By: Anne Bannerman (1765-1829)

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Prologue to “Hell’s Broke Loose” by Samuel Rowlands

To take the Sword away from Gods Anoynted:
And for examples to the worlds last day,
Our Traytours names shall never weare away:
The fearefull Path’s that hee and I have trod,
Have bin accursed in the sight of God.
Heere in this Register, who ere doth looke,
(Which may be rightly call’d The bloody Booke)
Shall see how base and rude those Villains bee,
That do attempt like LEYDEN; plot like mee.
And how the Diu’ll in whose name they begon,
Payes them Hells wages, when their worke is don:
“Treason is bloodie; blood thereon attends:
“Traytors are bloodie, and have bloodie ends.

From: Rowlands, Samuel, Hell’s Broke Loose, 1605, W.W.: London, p. 10.

Date: 1605

By: Samuel Rowlands (c1573-1630)

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Prologue. By A Gentleman of Leicester by Henry Carter

On opening the Theatre, at Sydney, Botany Bay, to be spoken by the celebrated Mr Barrington

   From distant climes o’er wide-spread seas we come,
Though not with much eclat or beat of drum,
True patriots all; for be it understood,
We left our country for our country’s good;
No private views disgrac’d our generous zeal,
What urg’d our travels was our country’s weal;
And none will doubt but that our emigration
Has prov’d most useful to the British nation.

   But, you inquire, what could our breasts inflame
With this new passion for theatric fame?
What, in the practice of our former days,
Could shape our talents to exhibit plays?
Your patience, sirs, some observations made,
You’ll grant us equal to the scenic trade.

   He, who to midnight ladders is no stranger,
You’ll own will make an admirable Ranger.
To seek Macheath, we have not far to roam;
And sure in Filch I shall be quite at home.
Unrival’d there, none will dispute my claim
To high pre-eminence and exalted fame.

   As oft on Gadshill we have ta’en our stand,
When ‘twas so dark you could not see your hand,
Some true-bred Falstaff we may hope to start
Who, when well bolster’d, well will play his part.
The scene to vary, we shall try in time
To treat you with a little pantomime.
Here light and easy Columbines are found,
And well tried harlequins with us abound;
From durance vile our precious selves to keep,
We often had recourse to th’ flying leap;
To a black face have sometimes ow’d escape,
And Hounslow-Heath has prov’d the worth of crape.

   But how, you ask, can we e’er hope to soar
Above these scenes, and rise to tragic lore?
Too oft, alas, we’ve forc’d th’ unwilling tear,
And petrified the heart with real fear.
Macbeth a harvest of applause will reap,
For some of us, I fear, have murder’d sleep;
His lady too with grace will sleep and talk.
Our females have been us’d at night to walk.

   Sometimes, indeed, so various is our art,
An actor may improve and mend his part;
“Give me a horse,” bawls Richard, like a drone,
We’ll find a man would help himself to one.
Grant us your favour, put us to the test,
To gain your smiles we’ll do our very best;
And, without dread of future turnkey Lockits,
Thus, in an honest way, still pick your pockets

From: Burke, Edmund (Ed), Annual Register, Volume 43, 1802, Longmans Green & Co: London, pp. 516-517. (

Date: 1801

By: Henry Carter (?-1806)