Manuscripts and Special Collections

WLC/LM/8, f. 190v : John Gower, ‘Confessio Amantis’, Book 8, lines 1477-1497 (composed c.1393, English)


[H]e haț hir fro țe bordel take
Bot țat was noght for goddes sake
But for țe lucre as she him tolde
Now comen to hir țat comen wolde
Of women in hir lusty ȝouțe
To hir and se what ținge she kouțe
She can țe wisdome of a clerke
She can of eny lusty werke
Which to a gentil woman longeț
And somme of hem she vndrefongeț
To țe Citol and to țe herpe
And whom it likeț for to carpe
Prouerbes and demaudes slighe
A noțere suche neuer ței sighe
Which țat science so wele taught
Wher of she grete ȝiftes caught
Țat sche to leonyn haț woune
And țus hir name is so be gonne
Of sondry ținges țat she techeț
Țat all țe londe vn to hir secheț
Of ȝonge women for to lere


He had her taken from the brothel, not for the sake of God, but for profit, as she told him (in her tale). Now, women in their youthful prime would come to her to see what she knew. She had the knowledge and learning of a scholar, and all the admirable skills that noble ladies required. And some of them she accepted (as students), and taught them to play the citol and harp, and those who liked to tell proverbs and clever riddles learnt new ones. She taught these sciences so well that she received great gifts which she acquired for Leonyn’s gain. And her name was established from the variety of things she taught, so that all the young women in the land wanted to learn from her.

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