Front Page Titles (by Subject) BOOK I. - The Complete Works of Geoffrey Chaucer, vol. 3 (House of Fame, Legend of Good Women, Treatise on Astrolabe, Sources of Canterbury Tales)
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BOOK I. - Geoffrey Chaucer, The Complete Works of Geoffrey Chaucer, vol. 3 (House of Fame, Legend of Good Women, Treatise on Astrolabe, Sources of Canterbury Tales) 
The Complete Works of Geoffrey Chaucer, edited from numerous manuscripts by the Rev. Walter W. Skeat (2nd ed.) (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1899). 7 vols.
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The authorities are F. (Fairfax 16); B. (Bodley 638); P. (Pepys 2006); Cx. (Caxton’s ed.); Th. (Thynne’s ed. 1532). I follow F. mainly, correcting the spelling.
Explicit liber primus.
[1. ]P. drem; rest dreme.
[8. ]All have And why; I omit why.
[9, 10. ]F. swevene, evene; Cx. Th. sweuen, euen.
[11. ]Th. B. a fantome; P. a fauntom; Cx. a fanton; F. affaintome; after which, all needlessly insert why.
[12. ]F. Th. B. P. not; Cx. note (=noot). Elide o in so.
[20. ]All wrongly insert is before more.
[24. ]B. of the; rest of her; I omit the (her).
[26. ]F. B. stewe; P. stoe; Cx. stryf; Th. stryfe.
[35. ]P. sweche; rest suche, such.
[45. ]F. B. forwote; rest wote.
[50. ]F. vnderstonde, followed by a metrical mark, indicating a pause: I add n.
[58, 62. ]MSS. dreme (=dreem).
[63. ]See note.
[64. ]B. P. now; F. yow; rest om.
[71. ]P. strem; rest streme (=streem); so P. drem (rest dreme) in l. 80. MSS. cometh (=com’th).
[73. ]Cx. Th. clepe; F. clepeth.
[77. ]F. That; rest And.
[78. ]Th. wol; P. wul; Cx. wyl; F. B. wolde.
[85. ]F. B. stonde; Cx. Th. stande; P. stond. Cx. alle; F. Th. al (wrongly).
[88. ]All pouerte.
[89. ]B. ech; F. eche.
[100. ]I supply that.
[103. ]P. om. a.
[109, 110. ]Cx. seyd, abreyd; the rest seyde (sayde), abreyde (abrayde). Grammar requires seyd, abreyd; (abreyde also occurs).
[117, 118. ]Cx. P. leonard, hard; F. Th. B. leonarde, harde. P. om. of.
[119. ]MSS. slept, slepte; read sleep, as in l. 438.
[122. ]F. Th. golde; Cx. P. gold; B. goold.
[126. ]All queynt.
[127. ]F. B. olde; Th. golde; Cx. P. gold. F. sawgh.
[131. ]Th. This; rest The
[132. ]F. sawgh.
[134. ]Th. heed; B. hed; F. Cx. hede. Cx. Th. P. parde; F. B. partee (!).
[135. ]B. red; F. Th. rede; Cx. Rose garlondes smellynge as a mede.
[136. ]MSS. combe. B. hed; rest hede.
[139. ]Cx. P. brown; F. bronne.
[140. ]Cx. down; F. dovne.
[141. ]P. fond; F. Cx. B. fonde; Th. founde. Cx. Th. wal; B. wall; F. walle.
[143. ]F. B. say; rest synge. F. B. P. om. that.
[146. ]F. B. Troy.
[148. ]Cx. Th. P. Lauyne; F. B. Labyne.
[152. ]Cx. Th. P. Troye; F. B. Troy; see l. 155.
[153. ]All om. That. F. B. P. fals; Cx. fals vntrewe; Th. false vntrewe.
[159. ]Cx. Th. kyng; F. B. kynge. F. y-slayne; rest slayn.
[160. ]Th. Polytes; F. B. Polite. From this point I make no further note of obvious corrections in spelling.
[172. ]Cx. P. Th. goddes; F. B. goddesse (wrongly).
[173. ]F. B. -brende; rest -brenned.
[174. ]Cx. P. this; F. B. his.
[184. ]F. P. That dede not I how she was; B. That ded not I how she was; Cx. That rede note I how it was; Th. That rede nat I howe that it was. Read deed, and insert but.
[188. ]Cx. Th. destyne; F. destanye.
[193. ]Cx. Th. grauen; P. graven; F. grave; B. grane.
[196. ]F. B. Towardes.
[199. ]P. Iubiter; rest Iupiters; read Iupiteres.
[204. ]F. blowe; P. Cx. Th. blowen.
[210. ]Th. herte; rest hert.
[220. ]F. omits from lisse to tempest in next line; the rest art right.
[221, 222. ]F. B. stent, went; Cx. Th. stente, wente.
[227. ]P. Cx. Th. Metten; F. B. Mette.
[235. ]F. P. comfort; rest comforte.
[237. ]P. folk; rest folke; but shulde is here dissyllabic.
[242. ]F. tel; B. telle; P. Cx. Th. tellen.
[257, 8. ]All worde, lorde.
[260. ]Th. the; rest omit.
[270. ]F. vnknowe; rest vnknowen.
[278. ]Th. Or speche; rest Or (F. Of!)for speche; read For speche. Lines 280-2 3 are in Th. only, which reads some; fayrest; lest; than.
[285. ]Cx. Th. (3rd) or; F. B. P. om.
[290. ]F. B. therbe (=the herbe); P. Cx. Th. the herbe.
[305. ]Cx. Th. one; P. on; F. B. love.
[309, 310. ]All delyte, profyte.
[313. ]For mette, Cx. Th. have mette dremyng (!).
[314. ]F. auttour=anctour.
[315. ]F. he; the rest she.
[320. ]F. Th. wol; P. wille; Cx. wyl.
[322. ]F. ha; P. B. haue rest om.
[328. ]All had.
[329. ]I insert I; which all omit.
[332. ]P. hadde; rest had.
[334. ]Cx. telle; P. tellen; F. tel.
[340. ]F. omits this line; the rest have it.
[347. ]F. B. al youre; Cx. Th. P. myn (om. al).
[352. ]F. B. om. be.
[353. ]Th. duren; F. B. dure.
[358. ]Th. done; rest omit.
[362. ]All insert But before Al.
[363. ]Cx. Th. P. Certeyn; F. B. Certeynly.
[365. ]Cx. goon; P. gon; F. agoon; B. agon.
[366. ]in] All in to.
[370. ]All Allas (alas); read Eneas.
[371. ]F. B. As; rest And.
[375. ]Cx. Th. P. But; F. B. And.
[381. ]F. And nor hyt were to; Cx. And nere it were to; Th. And nere it to; B. P. And ner it were to. Th. B. to endyte; F. Cx. tendyte.
[387. ]P. thenken; F. B. thynke; Cx. Th. thynken.
[391. ]F. B. om. was.
[402. ]Cx. Th. P. And; F. B. omit.
[410. ]Th. al; Cx. all; P. alle; F. B. om.
[426. ]F. B. om. as and us.
[428. ]F. B. om. greet.
[429. ]B. Mercure; F. Mercure; rest om.
[433. ]F. B. how that; rest how.
[434. ]Cx. P. to saylle; Th. for to sayle; F. B. for to assayle.
[446. ]Th. longe is for; F. B. is longe. Cx. P. whyche no tonge can telle.
[451. ]For tharivaile, F. B. Th. have the aryvayle; Cx. the arryuaylle; P. the arevaille.
[458. ]F. labina; rest Lauyna.
[468. ]Cx. P. seyn; rest seen (sene).
[473. ]F. B. grave; rest grauen.
[475. ]F. B. omit in.
[478. ]Th. sterynge any; the rest any stiryng (sterynge).
[486. ]Cx. Th. P. was but of sonde (sande); F. B. nas but sonde.
[491. ]I insert for. Cx. Th. P. insert I after saw; but it is in l. 489.
[496. ]F. B. omit lo.
[504. ]F. B. omit lines 504-507.
[1.]For this method of commencing a poem with a dream, compare The Book of the Duchesse, Parl. of Foules, and The Romance of the Rose.
[2.]This long sentence ends at line 52.
[7.]This opens up the question as to the divers sorts of dreams. Chaucer here evidently follows Macrobius, who, in his Commentary on the Somnium Scipionis, lib. i. c. 3, distinguishes five kinds of dreams, viz. somnium, visio, oraculum, insomnium, and visum. The fourth kind, insomnium, was also called fantasma; and this provided Chaucer with the word fantome in l. 11. In the same line, oracles answers to the Lat. oracula. Cf. Ten Brink, Studien, p. 101.
[18.]The gendres, the (various) kinds. This again refers to Macrobius, who subdivides the kind of dream which he calls somnium into five species, viz. proprium, alienum, commune, publicum, and generale, according to the things to which they relate. Distaunce of tymes, i. e. whether the thing dreamt of will happen soon, or a long time afterwards.
[20.]‘Why this is a greater (more efficient) cause than that.’
[21.]This alludes to the four chief complexions of men; cf. Nonne Preestes Tale, B 4114. The four complexions were the sanguine, phlegmatic, melancholy, and choleric; and each complexion was likely to have certain sorts of dreams. Thus, in the Nonne Preestes Tale, B 4120, the choleric man is said to dream of arrows, fire, fierce carnivorous beasts, strife, and dogs; whilst the melancholy man will dream of bulls and bears and black devils.
[22.]Reflexiouns, the reflections or thoughts to which each man is most addicted; see Parl. of Foules, 99-105.
[24.]‘Because of too great feebleness of their brain (caused) by abstinence,’ &c.
[43.]Of propre kynde, owing to its own nature.
[48.]The y in By is run on to the a into avísióuns.
[53.]‘As respects this matter, may good befall the great clerks that treat of it.’ Of these great clerks, Macrobius was one, and Jean de Meun another. Vincent of Beauvais has plenty to say about dreams in his Speculum Naturale, lib. xxvi.; and he refers us to Aristotle, Gregory (Moralia, lib. viii.), Johannes de Rupella, Priscianus (ad Cosdroe regem Persarum), Augustinus (in Libro de diuinatione dæmonum), Hieronimus (super Matheum, lib. ii.), Thomas de Aquino, Albertus, &c.
[58.]Repeated (nearly) from l. 1.
[63.]I here give the text as restored by Willert, who shows how the corruptions in ll. 62 and 63 arose. First of all dide was shifted into l. 62, giving as dide I; as in Caxton’s print. Next, an additional now was put in place of dide in l. 63; as in P., B., F., and Th., and dide was dropped alltogether. After this, F. turned the now of l. 64 into yow, and Cx. omitted it. See also note to l. 111.
[64.]‘Which, as I can (best) now remember.’
[68.]Pronounced fully:—With spé-ci-ál de-vó-ci-óun.
[69.]Morpheus; see Book of Duch. 137. From Ovid, Met. xi. 592-612; esp. ll. 602, 3:—
[73.]‘Est prope Cimmerios,’ &c.; Met. xi. 592.
[75.]See Ovid, Met. xi. 613-5; 633.
[76.]That . . hir is equivalent to whose; cf. Kn. Tale, 1852.
[81.]Cf. ‘Colui, che tutto move,’ i. e. He who moves all; Parad. i. 1
[88.]Read povért; cf. Clerkes Tale, E 816.
[92.]MSS. misdeme; I read misdemen, to avoid an hiatus.
[98.]‘That, whether he dream when bare-footed or when shod’; whether in bed by night or in a chair by day; i. e. in every case. The that is idiomatically repeated in l. 99.
[105.]The dream of Crœsus, king of Lydia, and his death vpon a gallows, form the subject of the last story in the Monkes Tale. Chaucer got it from the Rom. de la Rose, which accounts for the form Lyde. The passage occurs at l. 6513:—
[109, 10.]The rime is correct, because abreyd is a strong verb. Chaucer does not rime a pp. with a weak pt. tense, which should have a final e. According to Mr. Cromie’s Rime-Index, there is just one exception, viz. in the Kn. Tale, A 1383, where the pt. t. seyde is rimed with the ‘pp. leyde.’ But Mr. Cromie happens to have overlooked the fact that leyde is here not the pp., but the past tense! Nevertheless, abreyd-e also appears in a weak form, by confusion with leyd-e, seyd-e, &c.; see C. T., B 4198, E 1061. Cf. Book of the Duchess, 192. In l. 109, he refers to l. 65.
[111.]Here again, as in l. 63, is a mention of Dec. 10. Ten Brink (Studien, p. 151) suggests that it may have been a Thursday; cf. the mention of Jupiter in ll. 608, 642, 661. If so, the year was 1383.
[115.]‘Like one that was weary with having overwalked himself by going two miles on pilgrimage.’ The difficulty was not in the walking two miles, but in doing so under difficulties, such as going barefoot for penance.
[117.]Corseynt; O.F. cors seint, lit. holy body; hence a saint or sainted person, or the shrine where a saint was laid. See Robert of Brunne, Handlyng Synne, 8739:—
See also P. Plowman, B. v. 539; Morte Arthure, 1164; and (the spurious) Chaucer’s Dream, 942.
[118.]‘To make that soft (or easy) which was formerly hard.’ The allusion is humorous enough; viz. to the bonds of matrimony. Here again Chaucer follows Jean de Meun, Rom. de la Rose, 8871:—
i. e. ‘Marriage is an evil bond—so may St. Julian aid me, who harbours wandering pilgrims; and St. Leonard, who frees from their fetters (lit. un-irons) such prisoners as are very repentant, when he sees them giving themselves the lie (or recalling their word).’ The ‘prisoners’ are married people, who have repented, and would recall their plighted vow.
St. Leonard’s day is Nov. 6.
[119.]The MSS. have slept-e, which is dissyllabic. Read sleep, as in C. T. Prol. 397.
[120.]Hence the title of one of Lydgate’s poems, The Temple of Glass, which is an imitation of the present poem.
[130.]Cf. the description of Venus’ temple (Cant. Tales, A 1918), which is imitated from that in Boccaccio’s Teseide.
[133.]Cf. ‘naked fleting in the large see . . . And on hir heed, ful semely for to see, A rose garland, fresh and wel smellinge’; Cant. Tales, A 1956.
[137.]‘Hir dowves’; C. T., A 1962. ‘Cupido’; id. 1963.
[138.]Vulcano, Vulcan; note the Italian forms of these names. Boccaccio’s Teseide has Cupido (vii. 54), and Vulcano (vii. 43). His face was brown with working at the forge.
[141, 2.]Cf. Dante, Inf. iii. 10, 11.
[143.]A large portion of the rest of this First Book is taken up with a summary of the earlier part of Vergil’s Aeneid. We have here a translation of the well-known opening lines:—
[147.]In, into, unto; see note to l. 366.
[152.]Synoun, Sinon; Aen. ii. 195.
[153.]I supply That, both for sense and metre.
[155.]Made the hors broght, caused the horse to be brought. On this idiom, see the note to Man of Lawes Tale, B 171.
[158.]Ilioun, Ilium. Ilium is only a poetical name for Troy; but the medieval writers often use it in the restricted sense of the citadel of Troy, where was the temple of Apollc and the palace of Priam. Thus, in the alliterative Troy-book, 11958, ylion certainly has this sense; and Caxton speaks of ‘the palays of ylyon’; see Spec. of English, ed. Skeat, p. 94. See also the parallel passage in the Nonne Preestes Tale, B 4546. Still more clearly, in the Leg. Good Women (Dido, 13), Chaucer says, of ‘the tour of Ilioun,’ that it ‘of the citee was the cheef dungeoun.’ In l. 163 below, it is called castel.
[160.]Polites, Polites; Aen. ii. 526. Also spelt Polite in Troil. iv. 53.
[163.]Brende, was on fire; used intransitively, as in l. 537.
[164-73.]See Aen. ii. 589-733.
[174.]Read this, rather than his. Cf. Aen. ii. 736.
[177.]Iulus and Ascanius were one and the same person; see Æn. i. 267. Perhaps Ch. was misled by the wording of Æn. iv. 274. (On the other hand, Brutus was not the same person as Cassius; see Monkes Tale, B 3887). Hence, Koch proposes to read That hight instead of And eek; but we have no authority for this. However, Chaucer has it right in his Legend of Good Women, 941; and in l. 192 below, we find sone, not sones; hence l. 178 may be merely parenthetical.
[182.]Wente, foot-path; Aen. ii. 737. Cf. Book Duch. 398.
[184.]‘So that she was dead, but I know not how.’ Vergil does not say how she died.
[185.]Gost, ghost; see Aen. ii. 772.
[189.]Repeated from l. 180.
[198.]Here Chaucer returns to the first book of the Æneid, which he follows down to l. 255.
[204.]‘To blow forth, (with winds) of all kinds’; cf. Æn. i. 85.
[219.]Ioves, Jove, Jupiter. This curious form occurs again, ll. 586, 597, 630; see note to l. 586. Boccaccio has Giove.
[226.]Achatee (trisyllabic), Achates, Æn. i. 312; where the abl. form Achate occurs.
[239.]The story of Dido is told at length in Le Rom. de la Rose, 13378; in The Legend of Good Women; and in Gower, Conf. Amantis, bk. iv., ed. Pauli, ii. 4. Chaucer now passes on to the fourth book of the Æneid, till he comes to l. 268 below.
[265.]‘Mès ja ne verrés d’aparence Conclurre bonne consequence’; Rom. Rose, 12343.
[272.]‘It is not all gold that glistens.’ A proverb which Chaucer took from Alanus de Insulis; see note to Can. Yem. Tale, G 962.
[273.]‘For, as sure as I hope to have good use of my head.’ Brouke is, practically, in the optative mood. Cf. ‘So mote I brouke wel myn eyen tweye’; Cant. Ta., B 4490; so also E 2308. The phrase occurs several times in the Tale of Gamelyn; see note to l. 334 of that poem.
[280-3.]These four lines occur in Thynne’s edition only, but are probably quite genuine. It is easy to see why they dropped out; viz. owing to the repetition of the word finde at the end of ll. 279 and 283. This is a very common cause of such omissions. See note to l. 504.
[286.]By, with reference to.
[288.]Gest, guest; Lat. aduena, Æn. iv. 591.
[290.]‘He that fully knows the herb may safely lay it to his eye.’ So in Cotgrave’s Dict., s. v. Herbe, we find; ‘L’herbe qu’on cognoist, on la doit lier à son doigt; Prov. Those, or that, which a man knowes best, he must use most.’
[305.]In the margin of MSS. F. and B. is here written:—‘Caute uos, innocentes mulieres.’
[315.]Swete herte; hence E. sweetheart; cf. l. 326.
[321.]Understand ne (i. e. neither) before your love. Cf. Æn. iv. 307, 8.
[329.]I have no hesitation in inserting I after Agilte, as it is absolutely required to complete the sense. Read—Agílt’ I yów, &c.
[343.]Pronounce déterminen (i as ee in beet).
[346.]Cf. Æn. iv. 321-3.
[350.]‘Fama, malum quo non aliud uelocius ullum,’ Æn. iv. 174; quoted in the margin of MSS. F. and B.
[351.]‘Nichil occultum quod non reueletur’; Matt. x. 26: quoted in the margin of MSS. F. and B.
[355.]Seyd y-shamed be, said to be put to shame.
[359.]Eft-sones, hereafter again. In the margin of MSS. F. and B. we here find:—‘Cras poterunt turpia fieri sicut heri.’ By reading fieri turpia, this becomes a pentameter; but it is not in Ovid, nor (I suppose) in classical Latin.
[361.]Doon, already done. To done, yet to be done. Cf. Book Duch. 708.
[366.]I read in for into (as in the MSS.). For similar instances, where the scribes write into for in, see Einenkel, Streifzüge durch die Mittelengl. Syntax, p. 145. Cf. l. 147.
[367.]In the margin of MSS. F. and B. is an incorrect quotation of Æn. iv. 548-9:—‘tu prima furentem His, germana, malis oneras.’
[378.]Eneidos; because the books are headed Æneidos liber primus, &c.
[379.]See Ovid, Heroides, Epist. vii—Dido Æneæ.
[380.]Or that, ere that, before.
[381.]Only Th. has the right reading, viz. And nere it to longe to endyte (where longe is an error for long). The expressions And nor hyt were and And nere it were are both ungrammatical. Nere=ne were, were it not.
[388.]In the margin of F. and B. we find:—‘Nota: of many vntrewe louers. Hospita, Demaphoon, tua te R[h]odopeia Phyllis Vltra promissum tempus abesse queror.’ These are the first two lines of Epistola ii. in Ovid’s Heroides, addressed by Phyllis to Demophoon. All the examples here given are taken from the same work. Epist. iii. is headed Briseis Achilli; Epist. v., Oenone Paridi; Epist. vi., Hypsipyle Iasoni; Epist. xii., Medea Iasoni; Epist. ix., Deianira Herculi; Epist. x., Ariadne Theseo. These names were evidently suggested by the reference above to the same work, l. 379. See the long note to Group B, l. 61, in vol. v.
[392.]His terme pace, pass beyond or stay behind his appointed time. He said he would return in a month, but did not do so. See the story in The Legend of Good Women. Gower (ed. Pauli, iii. 361) alludes to her story, in a passage much like the present one; and in Le Rom. de la Rose, 13417, we have the very phrase—‘Por le terme qu’il trespassa.’
[397.]In the margin of F. and B.:—‘Ouidius. Quam legis a rapta Briseide litera venit’; Heroid. Ep. iii. 1.
[401.]In the same:—‘Ut [miswritten Vbi] tibi Colc[h]orum memini regina uacaui’; Heroid. Ep. xii. 1. For the accentuation of Medea, cf. Leg. of Good Women, 1629, 1663.
[402.]In the margin of F. and B.:—‘Gratulor Oechaliam’; Heroid. Ep. ix. 1; but Oechaliam is miswritten yotholia.
[405.]Gower also tells this story; ed. Pauli, ii. 306.
[407.]In F. and B. is quoted the first line of Ovid, Heroid. x. 1. Adriane, Ariadne; just as in Leg. Good Wom. 2171, &c., and in C. T., Group B, l. 67. Gower has Adriagne.
[409.]‘For, whether he had laughed, or whether he had frowned’; i. e. in any case. Cf. l. 98.
[411.]‘If it had not been for Ariadne.’ We have altered the form of this idiom.
[416.]Yle, isle of Naxos; see notes to Leg. Good Wom. 2163, and C. T., Group B, l. 68 (in vol. v.).
[426.]Telles is a Northern and West-Midland form, as in Book Duch. 73. Cf. falles, id. 257. A similar admixture of forms occurs in Havelok, Will. of Palerne, and other M. E. poems.
[429.]The book, i. e. Vergil; Æn. iv. 252.
[434.]Go, gone, set out; correctly used. Chaucer passes on to Æneid, bk. v. The tempest is that mentioned in Æn. v. 10; the steersman is Palinurus, who fell overboard; Æn. v. 860.
[439.]See Æn. bk. vi. The isle intended is Crete, Æn. vi. 14, 23; which was not at all near (or ‘besyde’) Cumæ, but a long way from it. Æneas then descends to hell, where he sees Anchises (vi. 679); Palinurus (337); Dido (450); Deiphobus, son of Priam (495); and the tormented souls (580).
[447.]Which refers to the various sights in hell.
[449.]Claudian, Claudius Claudianus, who wrote De raptu Proserpinae about ad 400. Daunte is Dante, with reference to his Inferno, ii. 13-27, and Paradiso, xv. 25-27.
[451.]Chaucer goes on to Æn. vii-xii, of which he says but little.
[458.]Lavyna is Lavinia; the form Lavina occurs in Dante, Purg. xvii. 37.
[468.]I put seyën for seyn, to improve the metre; cf. P. Pl. C. iv. 104.
[474.]‘But I do not know who caused them to be made.’
[475.]Read ne in as nin; as in Squi. Tale, F 35.
[482.]This waste space corresponds to Dante’s ‘gran diserto,’ Inf. i. 64; or, still better, to his ‘landa’ (Inf. xiv. 8), which was too sterile to support plants. So again, l. 486 corresponds to Dante’s ‘arena arida e spessa,’ which has reference to the desert of Libya; Inf. xiv. 13.
[487.]‘As fine [said of the sand] as one may see still lying.’ Jephson says yet must be a mistake, and would read yt. But it makes perfect sense. Cx. Th. read at eye (put for at yë) instead of yet lye, which is perhaps better. At yë means ‘as presented to the sight’; see Kn. Ta., A 3016.
[498.]Kenne, discern. The offing at sea has been called the kenning; and see Kenning in Halliwell.
[500.]More, greater. Imitated from Dante, Purgat. ix. 19, which Cary translates thus:—
Cf. also the descent of the angel in Purg. ii. 17-24.
[504-7.]The omission of these lines in F. and B. is simply due to the scribe slipping from bright in l. 503 to brighte in l. 507. Cf. note to l. 280.