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A TREASURY OF ENGLISH

PROSE

GEOFFREY CHAUCER

1340?–1400 O STELLIFERI CONDITOR ORBIS O THOU maker of the wheel that beareth the stars, which that art fastened to thy perdurable chair, and turnest the heaven with a ravishing sway, and constrainest the stars to suffer thy law; so that the moon some time, shining with her full horns, meeting with all the beams of the sun her brother, hideth the stars that been less, and some time, when the moon pale with her dark horns approacheth the sun, leeseth her lights; and that the eve star, Hesperus, which that in the first time of the night bringeth forth her cold arisings, cometh oft again her used course, and is pale by the morrow at rising of the sun, and is then cleped Lucifer! Thou restrainest the day by shorter dwelling in the time of cold winter, that maketh the leaves fall. Thou dividest the swift tides of the night, when the hot summer is come. Thy might attempereth the variant seasons of the year, so that Zephyrus, the debonair wind, bringeth again in the first

eason the leaves that the wind that hight Boreas hath reft away in autumn (that is to say,

the last end of summer); and the seeds that the star that

summer

hight Arcturus saw been waxen high Corns when the star Sirius eschaufeth them. There is no thing unbound from his old law, ne forleteth the work of his proper estate. O governor, governing all things by certain end, why refuseth thou only to govern the works of men by due manner? Why suffrest thou that sliding fortune turneth so great interchangings of things; so that annoyous pain, that should duly punish felons, punisheth innocents? And folk of wicked manners sitten in high chairs; and annoying folk tread, and that unrightfully, on the necks of holy men; and virtue, clear and shining naturally, is hid in dark darknesses. ... O thou, whatsoever thou be that knittest all bonds of things, look on this wretched earth. We men, that be nought a foul party, but a fair party of so great a work, we been tormented in this sea of fortune. Thou Governor withdraw and restrain the ravishing floods, and fasten and firm this earth stable with thilke bond by which thou governest'the heaven that is so large.

Boece, Book I.

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