Last modified on 4 March 2014, at 21:30

The Devonshire Manuscript/Wo worthe the fayre gemme vertulesse

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The Devonshire Manuscript
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yff yt be so that ye so creuel be for loue ys yet the moste stormy lyfe
The Devonshire Manuscript facsimile 91v

f. [91v ]

1    Wo worthe the fayre gem{_e}me vertulesse
2    wo worthe that herbe also that dothe no bote
3    wo worthe the beaute that ys routhlesse
4    wo worth that wyght that trede eche vnder fote
5    and ye that ben off beauty croppe and rote
6    Iff therwythall in yow be no routhe
7    than ys yt harme that{{th}+t+} ye lyuen by my trouthe

CommentaryEdit

Transcribed by TH2, this entry is an excerpt from Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde (Book II, lines 344-50) -- a long poem based on Petrarch's Rime 132. TH2 most likely copied from Thynne's edition of Chaucer (c. 1532). In this excerpt, Pandarus tries to convince Criseyde to love Troilus by insisting that her beauty includes compassion (i.e. "woe be to fair things that have no virtue, thus you do more harm by living if you be fair and unvirtuous"). This passage is a continuation of the excerpt preceding it (91r). Both passages may be considered as a single excerpt, but the preceding and following pages ("yff all the erthe were parchment scrybable" (90r) to Back Matter (93v) contain seven-line passages separated by flourishes. The “woe- be-to” structure of “Wo worthe the fayre gemme vertulesse” gives the excerpt an individual character that can be clearly differentiated from the three-line organization of “Yff yt be so that ye so creuel.” Furthermore, the mark above the passage on "for loue ys yet the moste stormy lyfe" (91v) resembles a half flourish, which may indicate its separation from the preceding text. There is also an example of a continuous section on “for loue ys yet the moste stormy lyfe” (91v) and “Also wyckyd tonges byn so prest” (91v(2)) spanning lines 778-791 of Troilus and Criseyde's Book II that has been divided into two separate seven-line passages by flourishes. Therefore, this seven line excerpt may constitute an independent entry.

The Devonshire Manuscript contains numerous other verses from Troilus and Criseyde (see: "And now my pen alas wyth wyche I wryte" (29v(1)), "O very lord / o loue / o god alas" (29v(2)), "O ye louers that hygh vpon the whele" (30r), "for thylke grownde that bearyth the wedes wycke" (59v), 91r(2), "for loue ys yet the moste stormy lyfe" (91v(2)), "Also wyckyd tonges byn so prest" (91v(3)), "And who that sayth that for to love ys vyce" (92r), and "but now helpe god to quenche all thys sorow" (93r). Other medieval and Chaucerian excerpts in the manuscript, possibly copied from Thynne's edition, include selections from Hoccleve ("Womans harte vnto no creweltye" (89v(1)) and "ys thys afayre / ys thys honor" (89v(2)), Richard Roos' La Belle Dame Sans Merci ("O marble herte and yet more harde perde" (90r(1)) and "Alas what shuld yt be to yow preiudyce" (90r(2)), the Chaucerian Remedy of Love first printed in Thynne's edition ("yff all the erthe were parchment scybable" (90r), and Chaucer's Anelida and Arcite ("for thowgh I had yow to morow agayne" (91r)).


The Devonshire Manuscript contains numerous other verses from Troilus and Criseyde

Textual NotesEdit

Texts CollatedEdit

T5068.20

CollationEdit

1 worthe] worth T5068.20 gemme] Geme T5068.20
2 wo] Wo T5068.20
3 wo] Wo T5068.20 ys] is T5068.20
4 wo] Wo T5068.20 wyght] wight T5068.20
5 and] And T5068.20 off] of T5068.20 beauty] beaute T5068.20
6 Iff] If T5068.20 therwythall] therwithal T5068.20 yow] you ne T5068.20
7 than] Than T5068.20 ys yt harme that] to harme T5068.20 my] by T5068.20