¶Here begynneth the testamēt of Iohn̄ Lydgate monke of Berry: which he made hymselfe / by his lyfe dayes. ⸫

[portrait of John Lydgate]
[depiction of crucifixion of Christ]
THe yeres passed / of my tender youthe
Of my fresshe age / feared the grenenesse
Lust apalled / thexperyence is couthe
The vnweldy ioyntes / starked with rudenesse
The cloudy syght / mysted with darkenesse
Without redresse: recure / or amendes
To me of dethe / haue brought in the kalendes.
¶Of my spent tyme / a fole may well complayne
Thyng impossyble / agayne for to recure
Idell dayes ylost / who can call agayne
Them to refourme / by any aduenture
Eche mortall man / is called to the lure
Of dethe / alas vncertayne the passage
Whose chiefe maryner / is called croked age.
¶One of his bedellys / named Feblenes
Came with his potent / in stede of a mace
Sommoned me / and afterwarde came sickenes
Malyncolyke: erthely / and pale of face
With their warrant / these twayne can manace
That dethe of me / his due dette sought
And to a bedde of langoure / they me brought.
¶Whervnto me / a none their dyd apere
Whyle that I lay / complayning in a traunce
Cladde in a mantell / a woman sadde of chere
Blacke was her abyte / sobre was her countenaūce
Strange of her port / frowarde of dalyaunce
Castyng her loke / to mewarde in certayne
Lyke as of me: she had / had dysdayne.
¶This sayd woman / called was Remembraūce
Of myspent tyme / in youthes lustynes
Which to recorde / dyd me great greuaunce
Than came her suster / named Pensyfnes
For olde surfettes / gan vnto me dresse
A wofull byll / which brought vnto my mynde
My greatr outrages / of long tyme left behynde.
¶Lyeng alone / I gan to Imagyne
Howe with foure tymes / departed is the yere
First: howe in Vere / the soyle tenlumyne
Buddes gynning open / agayne the sonne clere
The baume vpraysed / most souerayne and entere
Out of the rote / dothe naturally ascende
With newe lyuere the barayne soyle tamende.
¶The Honysocle / the fresshe Primmerolles
Their leaues splay / at Phebus vprisyng
The amorous foules / with notes and carolles
Salewe that season / euery mornyng
Whan Aurora / her lycoure dystellyng
Sent on herbes / the perly dropes shane
Of syluery dewes / tenlumyne with the grene.
¶This tyme Vere is named / of greennesse
Tyme of ioye / of gladnesse and dysport
Tyme of growyng / chyefe mother of fresshenesse
Tyme of reioysing ordayned for confort
Tyme: whan tyme / maketh his resort
In gerysshe Marche / towarde the Aryete
Our emyspery / to gladen with his here.
¶But to dyrect by grace / my mater
Makely knelyng: Iesu / in thy presence
I me purpose / to gynne with prayer
Vnder thy mercyfull / fructuous influence
So thou Iesu / of thy benyuolence
To my requestes / by mercyfull attendaunce
Graunt or I dye: shrift housell repentaunce.
My wretched lyfe tamendden / and correct
I me purpose / with support of thy grace
Thy dethe / thy passyon / thy crosse shall me dyrect
Which suffredyst deth Iesu / for our trespace
I wretche vnworthy / to loke vpon thy face
Thy fete enbrasyng / from which I shall nattwyn
Mercy enquiryng / thus woll I begyn.


O Mighty lorde / of power mightyest
Without whom / all force is feblenes
Boūteous Iesu / of good goodlyest
Mercy thy bedyll / or yu thy dōe dresse
Delayeth rygour / to punysshe my wyckednesse
Lengest abyding / lothest to do vengeaunce
O blessed Iesu / of thyne hyghe goodnesse
Graunt or I dye / shrift / housell / repentaunce.
¶Though thou be mighty / yu art eke mercyable
To all folkes / that mekely them repent
I / a wretche: contagyous and culpable
To all outrages / redy for to assent
[Page] But of hole hert and wyll / in myne entent
Of olde and newe / all vycious gouernaunce
Of youth and age / and of mistyme spent
Graunt or I dye: shrift / housell / repentaunce.
¶Of my confessyon / receyue the sacryfice
By my tong / vp offred vnto the
That I may say / in all my best gyse
Mekely with Dauyd / haue mercy vpon me
Salue all my soores / that they nat cancred be
With none olde rust / of dyseperaunce
Which of hole hert / cry vpon my kne
Graunt or I dye: shrift / housell / repentaunce.
¶O Iesu Iesu / here myne orison
Bridell myne outrage / vnder thy dysciplyne
Fetter sensualyte / enlumyne my reason
To folowe the traces / of spyrituall doctryne
Let thy grace lede me / right as a lyne
With humble hert / to lyue to thy plesaunce
And blessed Iesu / or I this lyfe shall fyne
Graunt of thy mercy: shrift / housell / repentaunce.
¶Suffre me to haue / sauour nor swetnes
But in thy name / that called as Iesu
All forayne thynges / to me make bytternes
Saue onely Iesu / moost souerayne of vertue
To my professyon / acordyng and moost due
Euer to be paynted / in my remembraunce
At myne ende / to graunt me this yssue
Tofore my dethe: shrift / housellf repentaunce.
¶No lorde but Iesu / moost merciable & benygne
Which of mercy / toke our humanyte
And of loue / to shewe a souerayne sygne
Suffred passyon / vpon the rode tre
Onely to fraunchyse / our mortalyte
Which stode in danger / of Sathans encombraūce
Or I passe hens / Iesu graunt vnto me
Tofore my dethe: shrift / housell / repentaunce.
¶I am excyted / and moued of nature
This name of Iesu / soueraynly to prayse
Name commended / moost hyghly in scripture
Which name hath power / deed men to rayse
To lyue eternall / whose vertue dothe so payse
Agayne my synnes / wayed in balaunce
That grace and mercy / shall so counterpayse
Graunt or I dye: shrift / housell / repentaunce.
¶Let me nat rest / nor haue no quyete
Ocupy my soule / with spyrituall trauayle
To syng and say / mercy Iesu swete
My protectyon / agayne fendes in batayle
Settyng asyde / all other apparayle
And in Iesu / to put all myne affyaunce
Treasour of tresours / that may me moost auayle
Graunt or I dye: shrift / housell / repentaunce.
¶My fayth / my hope: to the Iesu dothe call
Which glorious name / shall neuer out of mynde
I shall the seke / what happe that euer befall
By grace and mercy / in trust I shall the fynde
[Page] And but I dyd / truely I were vnkynde
Which for my sake / was pearsed with a launce
Vnto the hert / Iesu leaue nat behynde
Graunt or I dye: shrift / housell / repentaunce.
¶There is no god / but thou Iesu alone
Soueraynest / and eke moost mercyfull
Fayrest of fayre: erly / late / and soone
Stable and moost strong / pytuous and rightfull
Refourmyng synners / that ben in vertue dull
Dauntyng the proude / mekenesse to enhaunce
Thy tonne of mercy / is euer lyke full
Graunt or I dye: shrift / housell / repentaunce.
¶Suffre of mercy / I may to the speke
O blessed Iesu / and goodly do aduert
Who shall gyue leaser / out to breake
That thou Iesu / mayst entre into myne hert
There tabyde / more nere than my shert
With aureate letters / graue therin substaunce
Prouyde for me / and let it nat astert
Graunt or I dye: shrift / housell / repentaunce.
¶Say to my soule Jesu / thou art myne helth
Hearyng this voyce / after I shall pursue
Skoure that place / from all goostly fylth
And vyces all / from thens do remewe
Thyne holy goost / close in that lytell mewe
Parte nat lightly / make suche cheupsaunce
To encrease in vertue / and vyces to eschewe
And or I dye: shrift / housell / repentaunce.
¶Shewe glad thy face / & thy light downe shede
The mercyfull lyght / of thyne eyen twayne
On me thy seruaunt / which hath so mekyll nede
For his synnes to wepe / and complayne
And blessed Iesu / of mercy nat dysdayne
Thy gracious showres / let rayne in habundaunce
Upon my hert to dewyn euery vayne
And or I dye: shrift / housell / repentaunce.
¶Saue me thy seruaunt / O lorde: in thy mercy
For lacke of which / let me nat be confounded
For in the Iesu / myne hope standeth finally
And all my trust in the Iesu / is grounded
For my synnes: thynke Iesu / thou were wounded
Naked on the rode / by mortall great penaunce
By which / the power of Sathan was cōfounded
Graunt or I dye: shrift / housell / repentaunce.
¶Thou art my socoure / aud refuge
Gayne euery tempest / and trybulacion
That wordely wawes / with their mortall deluge
Ne drowne me nat / in their dredefull dongyon
Where Carybdis / hath domynacion
And Syrenes / syngeth songes of dysturbaunce
To passe that daunger / be thou my protectyon
Graunt or I dye: shrift / housell / repentaunce.
¶Who shall gyue me / lyke myne entent
That thou Iesu / mayst make thyne herberage
By receyuyng / of the holy sacrament
Into myne hert / which is to myne olde age
[Page] Repast eternall / gayne all forayne damage
Duely receyued / with deuout obseruaunce
Celestyall guerdon / ende of my pylgremage
Is shrift / and housell / and hertely repentaunce.
¶I fele myne hert brotell / and ruynous
Nat puryfied Iesu / therin to rest
But as a carpenter / cometh to a broken house
Or an artyficer / repayreth a ryuen chest
So thou Jesu / of crafty men the best
Repayre my thought / broke with mysgouernaūce
Vyset my soule / my hert of steele thou brest
Graunt or I dye: shrift housell / repentaunce.
¶With wepyng eyen / and a contryte chere
Accept me Jesu / and my complaynt conceyue
As moost vnworthy tappere / at thyne autere
Which in my selfe / no vertue apperceyue
But if thy mercy / by grace me receyue
By synfull lyueng / brought vnto vttraunce
Pray with good hope / which may me nat deceyue
Graunt or I dye: shrift / housell / repentaunce.
¶Cryeng to the / that dyedest on the rode
Which with thy blode / was stayned & made reed
And on sherethursday / gaue vs to our fode
Thy blessed body Jesu / in fourme of breed
To me moost synfull / graunt or I be deed
To clayme by mercy / for myne inherytaunce
That wt sharpe thorne / were crowned on thy heed
Or I passe hens: shrift / housell / repentaunce.
¶And one request / in especyall
Graunt me Jesu / whyle I am here a lyue
Euer to enprint / in my memoriall
The remembraunce / of thy woundes fyue
Nayles / with the spere: that dyd thyne hert ryue
Thy croune of thorne / which was no smale penaū ce
Langage / and tong: me duely for to shriue
The holy vncyon: shrift / housell / repentaunce.
¶All the tokens / of thy bytter passyon
I pray the Jesu / graue them in my memorie
Duely marke / mydde centyr of my reason
On Caluery / thy tryumphall vyctorie
Man to restore / to thyne eternall glorie
By medyacion / of thy meke sufferaunce
Out of this exyle / vnsure and transytorie
And whan we passe: shrift housell / repentaunce
¶Of thy mercy / requyring the to myne
Of my mynde the mydde poynt moost profounde
This worde Jesu my fyue wyttes tenlumyne
In length and brede / lyke a large wounde
All ydell thoughtes / to auoyde them and cōfounde
Thy crosse / thy scourgꝭ: thy garmēt cast at chaūce
The rope / the pyllour: to which thou were boūde
Graunt or I dye: shrift / housell / repentaunce.
¶Of this prayer / mekely I make an ende
Vnder thy mercyfull supportacyon
O gracyous Jesu / graunt where euer I wende
To haue memorie / vpon thy passyon
[Page] Testymoniall / of my redempcion
In my testament / set for allegeaunce
This cause last / of my peticyon
Graunt or I dye: shrift / housell / repentaunce.
¶Finis orationis.
DVryng the tyme / of this season Vere
I meane ye season / of my yeres grene
Ginnyng fro chyldhode / stretcheth vp so fere
To ye yeres acōpted / fully .xv.
By experyence / as it was well sene
The gerysshe season / strong of condycion
Dysposed to many / vnbrideld passyon.
¶Voyde of reason / gyuen to wylfulnesse
Frowarde to vertue of Christ gaue lytell hede
Lothe to lerne / loued no vertuous besynesse
Saue play or myrth / straung to spell or rede
Folowyng all appetytes longyng to chyldhede
Lightly tournyng: wylde / and selde sadde
Wepyng for nought / and a none after gladde.
¶For lytell worth / to stryue with my felawe
As my passyons / dyd my bridell lede
Of the yarde / stode I somtyme in awe
To be scoured / that was all my drede
Lothe towarde scole / lost my tyme in dede
Lyke a yong colt / that ranne without bridell
Made my frendes gyue good / to spende in ydell.
¶I had in custome / to come to scole late
Nat for to lerne / but for a countenaunce
With my felawes / redy to debate
To iangle and iape / was set all my plesaunce
Wherof rebuked / this was my cheuysaunce
To forge a lesyng / and there vpon to muse
Whan I trespased / my selfe to excuse.
¶To my better / dyd no reuerence
Of my soueraynes / gaue no force at all
Wexe obstynate / by inobedyence
Ranne into gardeyns / appels there I stall
To gather frutes / spared hedge nor wall
To plucke grapes on other mennes vynes
Was more redy / than for to say mattynes.
¶My lust was alway / to skorne folke and lape
Shrewed tournes / euer among to vse
To scoffe and mowe / lyke a wanton ape
Whan I dyd euyll / other I dyd acuse
My wyttes fyue / in wast I dyd abuse
Redyer cherystones / for to tell
Than go to churche / or here the sacryng bell.
¶Lothe to ryse / lother to bedde at eue
With vnwasshe handes / redy to dynere
My Pater noster / my Crede: or my beleue
Cast at the cocke: lo / this was my manere
Waued with eche wynde / as dothe a rede spere
Snobbed of my frendes / suche tatches tamende
Made deffe eare / lyst nat to them attende.
¶A childe resēblyng / which was nat like to thriue
Frowarde to god / recheles in his seruyce
Lothe to correctyon / slothe my selfe to shriue
All good thewys / redy to dyspice
Chefe belwether / of fayned trowandyce
This is to meane / my selfe I coude fayne
Sicke lyke a trowande / felt no maner payne.
¶My port / my pase: my fote alway vnstable
My loke / myne eyen: vnsure and vacabounde
In all my werkes / sodenly chaungeable
To all good thewys / contrary I was founde
Nowe ouersad / nowe mournyng: nowe iocounde
Wylfull / recheles / madde: startyng as an hare
To folowe my lust for nothyng wolde I spare.
¶Entryng this tyme / into relygion
Vnto the ploughe / I put forthe my hande
A yere complete / made my professyon
Consydering lytell charge / of thylke bande
Of perfectyon / full good example I founde
The techyng good / in me was all the lacke
With Lothes wyfe / I loked oft a backe.
¶Taught of my maisters / by vtuous dysciplyne
My loke restrayne / and kepe close my syght
Of blessed Benet / to folowe the doctryne
And bere me lowly / to euery maner wyght
By thaduertence / of myne inwarde syght
Cast to god warde / of hole affectyon
To folowe themprises / of my professyon.
¶His holy rule was vnto me radde
And expounde / in full notable wyse
By vertuous men / relygious and sadde
Full well expert / dyscrete / prudent / and wyse
And obseruauntes / of many goostly emprise
I herde all well / but to wchyng to the dede
Of that they taught / I toke but lytell hede.
¶Of relygion / I ware a blacke habyte
Onely outwarde / as by good apparence
To folowe the charge / sauoured but a lyte
Saue by a maner / counterfet pretence
But in effect / there was none exystence
Lyke to the ymage / of Pygmalyon
Shewed lyffely / and was nat but a ston.
¶Vpon the ladder / with staues thrise thre
The nyne degrees / of vertuous mekenesse
Called in the rule / degrees of humylite
where on to ascende / my fete me lyst nat dresse
But by a maner / fayned false humblesse
So couertly / whan folkes were present
One to shewe outwaree / an other in myne entent.
¶First / where I forsoke myne owne wyll
Shet with a locke / of obedyence
To obey my souerayns / as it was right and skyll
To folowe the scole / of perfyt pacyence
To my emynes / do worshyppe and reuerence
Folowyng the reuers / toke all an other wey
What I was bydden / I coude well disobey.
¶With tong at large / and brotell conscyence
Full of wordes / dysordinate of langage
Recheles / to kepe my lyppes in scylence
Mouth: eye / and eares / toke their auauntage
To haue their course / vnbrideld by outrage
Out of the raynes / of attemperaunce
To sensualyte / gaue all the gouernaunce
¶Watche out of tyme: ryot / and dronkennesse
Vnfructuous talkyng / intemperat dyete
To vayne fables / I dyd myne eares dresse
False detractyon among / was to me swete
To talke of vertue / me thought it was nat mete
To my courage / nor my complexyon
Nor nought / that sowned towarde perfectyon.
¶One with the first / to take my dysport
Last that arose to come to the quere
In contemplacyon / I founde but small confort
Holy stories / dyd to me no chere
I sauoured more / in good wyne that was clere
And euery houre / my passage to dresse
As I sayd erst / in ryotte or excesse.
¶Coude grudge / and founde no cause why
Causles / oft complayned of my fare
Gayne my correctyons / answered frowardly
Without reuerence / lyst no man to spare
Of vertue and pacyence / I was all bare
Of recheles youth / I lyst none hede to take
What Christ Iesu / suffred for my sake.
¶Which nowe remembring / in my later age
Tyme of my chyldhode / as I reherce shall
Within fyftene / holdyng my passage
Mydde of a cloyster / depyct vpon a wall
I sawe a crucyfixe / whose woūdes were nat small
With this worde / vide / written there besyde
Beholde my mekenes chylde / and leaue thy pride.
¶The which worde / whan I dyd vnderstande
In my last age / takyng the sentence
Theron remembring my penne I toke in hande
Gan to write / with humble reuerence
On this worde vide / of humble dyligence
In remembring / Christes passyon
This lytell dyte / this compylacion.


¶Beholde: O man / lyft vp thyne eye and se
What mortall payne / I suffred for thy trespace
With pyteous voyce / I cry and say to the
Beholde my woundes / beholde my blody face
Beholde the rebukes / that do me so manace
Beholde myne enmyes / that do me so dyspyce
And howe that I / to refourme the to grace
Was lyke a lambe / offred insacryfice.
¶Beholde the paynes / of whom that I was take
Beholde the cordes / with which that I was boūde
Behold ye armours / which made myne hert quake
Beholde the gardyne / in which yt I was founde
[Page] Beholde howe Iudas / toke .xxx. pens rounde
Beholde his treason / beholde his couetyse
Beholde howe I / with many a mortall wounde
Was lyke a lambe / offred in sacrifyce.
¶Se my dysciple / which that hath me solde
And se his fayned / false salutacyon
And se the money / which that he hath tolde
And se his kyssing / of false decepcyon
Beholde also / the compassed false treason
Take as a thefe / with lanternes in their gyse
And afterwarde / for mannes redempcyon
Was lyke a lambe / offred in sacrifyce.
¶Beholde to Cayphas howe I was presented
Beholde howe Pylate / lyst gyue me no respyte
Beholde how bysshops / were to my deth assented
And se howe Herode / had me in dyspyte
And lyke a fole / I was cladde in whyte
Drawen as a felone / in moost cruell wyse
And last of all / I after their delyte
Was lyke a lambe / offred in sacrifyce.
¶Beholde ye mynisters / which had me in kepyng
Beholde the pyller / and the ropes strong
Where I was bounde / my sydes downe bledyng
Moost felly beate / with their scourges long
Beholde the batayle / that I dyd vnderfong
The brunt abyding / of their mortall emprise
Thorough their acusyng / and sclaunders wrong
Was lyke a lambe / offred in sacrifyce.
¶Beholde and se / the hatefull wretchednes
Put agayne me / to my confusyon
Myne eyen hydde / and blynded with darkenes
Beat and eke bounde / by false illusyon
Salewed in skorne / by their false knelyng downe
Beholde all this / and se the mortall gyse
Howe I onely / for mannes saluacyon
Was lyke a lambe / offred in sacrifyce.
¶Se the wytnesse / by whome I was deceydue
Beholde the iudges / that gaue me iugement
Beholde the crosse / that was for me deuysed
Beholde my body / with beatyng all to rent
Beholde the people / which of false entent
Causeles / dyd agayne me ryse
Which lyke a lambe / of malyce Innocent
Was for mankynde / offred in sacrifyce.
¶Beholde the woman / that folowed me afterre
That sore wept / whan I thus was assayled
Beholde the iewes / which by their cruell werre
Haue my body / vnto a crosse nayled
Beholde my tourmētes / moost sharply aparayled
Atwene two theues / put to my iewyse
Beholde howe moche my dethe / hath eke auayled
That was for man / offred in sacrifyce.
¶Behold ye spere / moost sharply grounde & whet
Myne hert wounded / vpon the right syde
Beholde the redespere / gall and ysell fet
Beholde the scourgyngꝭ / which that I dyd abyde
[Page] And fyue woundes / that were made so wyde
Which / no man lyst of ruthe to aduertyse
And thus I was of mekenes agayne pride
For mannes offence / offred in sacryfice.
¶Se my dysciples / howe they haue me forsake
And fro me fledde / almoost euery chone
Se howe they slept / lyst nat with me wake
Of mortall drede / they left me all alone
Except my mother / and my cosyn saynt John̄
My dethe complayning / in moost dolefull wyse
Se / fro my crosse they wolde neuer gone
For mannes offence / offred in sacryfice
¶Se howe I was iudged / to the dethe
Se Baraban gone / at his lyberte
Se / with aspere / howe Longyus me slethe
Beholde two lycours / dystillyng downe fro me
Se blode and water / by mercyfull plente
Rayle by my sydes / which ought ynough suffice
To man / whan I vpon the rode tre
Was lyke a lambe / offred insacryfice.
¶Beholde the knyghtꝭ / which by their frowarde chaunce
Sate for my clothes / at the dyce to pley
Beholde my mother / sownyng for greuaunce
Vpon the crosse / whan she sawe me dey
Beholde the sepulture / in which my bones ley
Kept with strong watche / tyll I dyd a ryse
Of hell gates se / howe I brake the key
And gaue for man / my blode in sacryfice.
¶Agayne thy pride / beholde my great mekenesse
Gayne thyne enuy / beholde my charyte
Gayne thy lechery / beholde my chast clennesse
Gayne thy couetyse / beholde my pouerte
Atwene two theues / nayled tyll a tre
Rayled with reed blode / they lyst me so disgyse
Beholde: O man / all this I dyd for the
Meke as a lambe / offred insacryfice.
¶Beholde my loue / and gyue me thyne agayne
Beholde I dyed / thy raunsome for to pay
Se: howe my hert is open / brode and playne
Thy goostly enmyes / onely to affray
An harder batayle / no man might assay
O all tryumphes / the grettest hygh emprise
Wherfore: O man / no lengar the dismay
I gaue my blode for the / in sacryfice.
¶Tourne home agayne / thy synne forsake
Beholde and se / if ought be left behynde
Howe I to mercy / am redy the to take
Gyue me thy hert / and be nomore vnkynde
Thy loue and myne / togyther do them bynde
And let them neuer part / in no wyse
Whan thou were lost / thy soule agayne to fynde
My blode I offred / for the in sacryfice.
Enprint these thynges / in thyne inwarde thought
And graue them depe / in thy remembraunce
Thynke on them well / and forgete them nought
All this I suffred / to do the allegyaunce
[Page] And with my sayntes / to gyue the suffysaunce
In the heuenly court / for the I do deuyse
A place eternall / a place of all plesaunce
For which my blode / I gaue in sacrifyce.
¶And more my mercy / to put at a prefe
To euery synner / that none ne shall it mysse
Remembre / howe I gaue my mercy to the thefe
Which had so long trespased / and done a mysse
Went he nat frely / with me to paradysse
Haue this in mynde / howe it is my gyse
All repentaunt / to bring to my blysse
For whom my blode / I gaue in sacrifyce.
¶Tary no lengar / towarde thy herytage
Haste on thy way and be of right good chere
To eche day onwarde / on thy pylgremage
Thynke howe short tyme / thou shalt abyde here
Thy place is bylded / aboue the sterres clere
None erthly palaes / wrought in so stately wyse
Come on my frende / my brother moost entere
For the I offred / my blode in sacrifyce.
¶Thus endeth the testament of Iohn̄ Lydgate monke of Bery / on whose soule Iesu haue mercy.

Et sic est finis / sit laus et gloria trinis.

¶Emprinted at Lōdon in fletestrete / by Richard Pynson: printer vnto the kynges noble grace. With priuylege of our souerayne lorde the kyng.


[depiction of the crucifixion of Christ]


[printer's or publisher's device]

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