Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Chaucer's Purse

The Complaint of Chaucer to his Purse

To yow, my purse, and to noon other wight
Complayne I, for ye be my lady dere!
I am so sory, now that ye been lyght;
For certes, but ye make me hevy chere,
Me were as leef be layd upon my bere;
For which unto your mercy thus I crye:
Beth hevy ageyn, or elles mot I dye!

Now voucheth sauf this day, or yt be nyght,
That I of yow the blisful soun may here,
Or see your colour lyk the sonne bryght,
That of yelownesse hadde never pere.
Ye be my lyf, ye be myn hertes stere,
Quene of comfort and of good companye:
Beth hevy ageyn, or elles moote I dye!

Now purse, that ben to me my lyves lyght
And saveour, as doun in this world here,
Out of this toune helpe me thurgh your myght,
Syn that ye wole nat ben my tresorere;
For I am shave as nye as any frere.
But yet I pray unto your curtesye:
Beth hevy agen, or elles moote I dye!

Lenvoy de Chaucer
O conquerour of Brutes Albyon,
Which that by lyne and free eleccion
Been verray kyng, this song to yow I sende;
And ye, that mowen alle oure harmes amende,
Have mynde upon my supplicacion!

A marvelous antique coin purse battered for generations, despite supplications that it be full, suspended on an old spliced wooden rosary chain and a brass chain from Latvia (Alchemyshop, again), fastens with a vintage lanyard hook, a collection of Victorian buttons (always more of them than cash) and one evil eye bead to discourage thieves, with a pendant watch fob, most likely Victorian, but indeed quite as battered as the purse. A sweet embroidered basket of posies relieves the dark patina with green details to attract something green to go in there.

The real wonder of it all -- how did I remember Chaucer wrote a poem to his purse, when I often forget where I put my reading glasses?


  1. What a great title for that beautiful piece! Now I want to know how Chaucer ended up...

  2. This is wonderful, thank you! Riki