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To My Empty Purse
Geoffrey Chaucer

To you, my purse, and to none other wight [unfortunate creature],
Complain I, for ye be my lady dere;
I am sorry now that ye be light,
For, certes, ye now make me heavy chere [appearance];
Me were as lief be laid upon a bier,
For which unto your mercy thus I crie,
Be heavy againe, or els mote I die.

Now vouchsafe this day or it be night,
That I of you the blissful sound may here,
Or see your color like the sunne bright,
That of yellowness had never peer;
Ye are my life, ye be my hertes stere [heart rudder],
Queen of comfort and of good companie,
Be heavy againe, or els mote I die.

Now purse, thou art to me my lyfes light,
And saviour, as downe in this world here,
Out of this towne helpe me by your might,
Sith that you will not be my treasure,
For I am slave as nere as any frre [friar],
But I pray unto your curtesie,
Be heavy againe, or els mote I die.

This poem is in the public domain.

Geoffrey Chaucer (1340ish - 1400) was born in London to a prosperous wine merchant who served in the court of Edward III. Well educated in his youth, Geoffrey was first a soldier, then a diplomat, serving in various positions and capacities, including a stint in Parliament. Considered a pivotal influence in English literature, he is best known for The Canterbury Tales, a colorful account of a diverse group of travelers which, unfortunately, was incomplete at the time of his death. Geoffrey is reputedly the first poet buried in Westminster Abbey's "Poets' Corner," though that privilege likely came as a result of his relationship with the church, rather than his renown as a poet.

Post New Comment:
Takes me back to Bergen Evans' lectures at Northwestern in the late 1960's!
Posted 03/30/2012 10:23 AM
Talk about a blast from the past . . . great post; thanks for YDP in general and this poem in particular. Yesterday's too; Jayne is on her game.
Posted 03/27/2012 09:19 AM
I love The Canterbury Tales. Seems to me that it was in "Aprille" his timeless characters made their way to Thomas a Becket's shrine in the Cathedral at Canterbury. What a grand collection was there!
Posted 03/27/2012 08:24 AM
Marilyn L Taylor:
Imagine being like Chaucer and having your poems read and enjoyed six hundred years later! Thanks for posting this, Jayne.
Posted 03/27/2012 08:23 AM

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