Act I
Act II
Act IV
Act V


Enter Gower


To sing a song that old was sung,

From ashes ancient Gower is come,

Assuming man's infirmities,

To glad your ear and please your eyes.
glad (v.) 1 gladden, brighten, cause to rejoice

It hath been sung at festivals,

On ember-eves and holidays,
ember-eve (n.) evening before ember-days [church quarterly 3-day period of fasting and prayer]
holy-ale (n.) rural festival

And lords and ladies in their lives

Have read it for restoratives.
restorative (n.) healing power, medicinal cordial

The purchase is to make men glorious,
glorious (adj.) seeking glory, eager for renown
purchase (n.) 4 beneficial result, benefit, advantage

Et bonum quo antiquius eo melius.
et... and the older a good thing is, the better See Topics: Latin

If you, born in these latter times

When wit's more ripe, accept my rhymes,
ripe (adj.) 5 mature, sophisticated, refined
wit (n.) 1 intelligence, wisdom, good sense, mental ability See Topics: Frequency count

And that to hear an old man sing

May to your wishes pleasure bring,

I life would wish, and that I might

Waste it for you like taper-light.
taper-light (n.) candle-light

This Antioch, then. Antiochus the Great

Built up this city for his chiefest seat,

The fairest in all Syria;

I tell you what mine authors say.
author (n.) 2 authority, source, informant

This king unto him took a peer,
peer (n.) mate, companion; wife

Who died and left a female heir,

So buxom, blithe, and full of face,
buxom (adj.) lively, cheerful, bright

As heaven had lent her all his grace;

With whom the father liking took,
liking (n.) 4 lustful affection, sexual attraction

And her to incest did provoke.

Bad child, worse father, to entice his own

To evil should be done by none;

But custom what they did begin

Was with long use accounted no sin.

The beauty of this sinful dame

Made many princes thither frame
frame (v.) 5 direct one's steps, shape a course, betake oneself

To seek her as a bedfellow,

In marriage pleasures playfellow;

Which to prevent he made a law,

To keep her still and men in awe,
still (adv.) 1 constantly, always, continually See Topics: Frequency count

That whoso asked her for his wife,

His riddle told not, lost his life.
tell (v.) 6 disclose, reveal, explain

So for her many a wight did die,
wight (n.) [archaism] person, human being See Topics: Archaisms

As yon grim looks do testify.

What now ensues, to the judgement of your eye–

I give my cause, who best can justify.


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