The Poetry of Ellin Anderson

THE BLACK ARTS

By John Gower (1330
Ė1408)
The Poet Who Inspired Shakespeare

Modern English Version
by Richard Brodie and Ellin Anderson
 

Who dares do things love does not dare?
Of every law, loveís unaware,
But to loveís law, at his behest,
Fish, fowl, man, beast and all the rest
Of this worldís creatures will bow low,
For love fears nothing, as we know:
In manís own heart, wherein love sits,
Man counts no more among his wits
Whatís well than any woeful ill,
No more whatís hot than what will chill,
No more whatís wet than what is dry,
No more to live long than to die.
So, looking forward or behind,
He nothing sees, but being blind
Of insight, heart and soul to gauge,
He will do marvels in his rage.
Whatever thing to him heíll draw,
There is no god, there is no law
Of which he will take any heed,
But like Bayard, the blinded steed,
Until he falls down in a ditch,
He goes where no one bids him, which
Makes him so far out of control,
There is no wisdom rules his soul.
And thus, to tell of love whatís true,
Full many a wondrous thing heíll do
That was far better left undone.
Among them Witchcraft is just one,
Which some men have called Sorcery,
That for to win his jewel, he
In many a circumstance will use:
There is no aspect heíll refuse.
The craft that came from Saturnís hand,
Of making markings in the sand,
Thatís known as Geomancy: this
Full often he will use amiss;
Of waters, his Hydromancy,
And of the fire, Pyromancy,
With questions for each one of those
Heíll probe quite often, and he knows
Aeromancy, to whose judgment
In love, he brings his own assent,
And all these crafts, as I do find,
A man may do by way of kind
Objectives, yet while good intent
Was his, thatís not the way it went.
For rather than his hopes should fail,
With such black magic heíll assail
His target, making incantations,
Incense for his fumigations.
Scapula, which you may note
Is used quite commonly by rote
Among the pagans, he may seek;
Crafts authored by old Toz the Greek
He works on, moving down the row:
Razelís not one he does not know,
Nor Solomonís nine candlesticks,
Eutonie, Ydeac: those tricks
In books of figures, and withal,
From Balamuz, and from Ghenbal,
The seal whereon an image is
Of Thebith, his advantages
He takes, and something of Gibiere,
Which is of help in his affair.
Great Babylon, with planets seven,
Which renounced was by Godís heaven,
Using figures square and round,
He traces often on the ground
When he will make an invocation;
And to get full information,
That school which Honorius
Wrought, he pursues; and then, lo, thus
Its magic he will use to win
His love, and sparing naught for sin,
And for loveís folly, swamped heíll be,
Just as he seeks out Sorcery
Of those who claim to be Magicians.
Right so, of the Naturicians
In the stars far up above,
A way heíll seek to get to love,
As far as he can understand them.
Sundry ways, heíll come to mayhem:
He makes paintings, he makes sculptures,
He writes spells, and he makes figures,
He will make his calculations,
He will make his demonstrations;
Books of astronomic art
Heíll keep, as they concern that part
Belonging to his close inspection
Of his love and his affection;
Heíll seek out the deepest reach
Of Hell, the Devil to beseech
If he desires to make speed
And get of love his lusty need,
Whereon his heart is firmly set.
He thinks there is no better bet,
Nor does he know of Heaven more.
My son, if schooled in such a lore
Youíve been ere this, I bid thee leave.
My holy father, please believe
Of all that you have spoken here
To touch this matter, and make clear
You tell the truth, as I deem good,
Not one word have I understood.
I wonít say, though it sounds uncouth,
I would not, in my lusty youth,
Beneath in Hell, and up above,
To win out with my lady love,
Have done all that I ever might,
For I had not the least insight
What state Iíd afterwards be in,
Just so Iíd overcome, and win
Her love, which Iíd most coveted.
My Son, on harsh paths you were led,
But this I may well tell, forsooth,
A man who does these things, in truth,
For all the spells of craft heíll cast,
He will not have his wish, at last,
For he that will to guile descend
By his own trickery is penned,
And the beguiler is beguiled,
As I find in a book compiled
About this thing: a history,
Which comes now to my memory;
A great example you may see
Against the vice of Sorcery,
Whereof no ending may be good.
But how in days long gone it stood,
A tale that it is good to know,
On you, my Son, I shall bestow.


Ulysses and Telegonus

© 2010 by Ellin Anderson. All rights reserved.
No part of this work may be copied or used in any way
without written permission from the author.


Young Barret O'Bara
Seabrook
Tiger and Blue Jewel

Winter's Hill
Maple-Key Song
November in Camelot

Wassail Song
Veleda
Cinderella
The Rooster at Midsummer
Liberty Enlightens the People

The Leap
The Goldfinch
Three Bears
Song of the Lily
White Tree at Twilight
The Christmas Tree

Song-Sparrow
Grand Bois du Nord
The Owl
Moth Summer
Verticordia
The Little God of Joy
Pear-Petals
Photographing the Moon
A Rabbit
Rose, Do You Know
The Two Pining Bachelors
Lorelei
Persephone

Avalon
The Harvest Chorus
The Maple Mask
Ghost Cardinal
The Spinner
 
The Little Heath-Rose
Found
The Sorcerer's Apprentice
Song for the Harp


The Prayer of Cephalus
Circe and Ulysses
Tristan and Isolde & Jupiter's Two Casks
Nectanebus

Home Page

More Poems by Ellin Anderson

The Little Mermaid
Vermeer
Anne's Hearth