Thomas Occleve

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Thomas Occleve (or Hoccleve) (c. 13681426) was an English poet and civil servant. Occleve and John Lydgate are usually seen as the leading English poets of the early 15th century.



Quotations are cited from Frederick Furnivall and Israel Gollancz's three-volume edition of Hoccleve's Works (Early English Text Society, 1892-1925).

  • If that thise men that lovers hem pretende,
    To women weren feythfull good and trewe,
    And dreden hem to deceyven or offende,
    Women, to love hem, wolde nat eschewe;
    But every day hath man an herte newe:
    Yt, upon oon, abide can no while.
    What fore ys it, swich a wight to be-gile?
    • If those men who to be lovers pretend
      Behaved more faithfully and did not lie,
      And dreaded to deceive or to offend,
      Then women might not choose to pass them by.
      But each man's heart's a fickle butterfly
      Which can alight on one just a short while.
      Can it be wrong in this case to beguile?
    • "The Letter of Cupid", line 267; vol. 1, p. 83; translation from Thelma S. Fenster and Mary Carpenter Erler (eds.) Poems of Cupid, God of Love (Leiden: Brill, 1990) p. 191.

La Male Regle (c. 1405)


Quotations in modern spelling are cited from Henry Morley (ed.) Shorter English Poems (London: Cassell, 1883).

  • For the more paart, youthe is rebel,
    Un-to reson & hatith her doctryne.
    • As for the moré part Youth is rebél
      Unto Reasón, and hateth her doctrine.
    • Line 65; vol. 1, p. 27; translation p. 58.
  • O yowthe allas why wilt thow nat enclyne,
    And un-to reuled reform bowe thee?
    Syn resoun is the verray streighte lyne
    Þat ledith folk un-to felicitee.
    • O Youth, alas, why wilt thou not incline
      And unto ruled Reason bowé thee,
      Syn Reason is the verray staighté line
      That leadeth folk unto felicitee.
    • Line 69; vol. 1, p. 27.
  • Many a servant un-to his lord seith,
    "Þat al the world spekith of him honour,"
    Whan the contrarie of þat is sooth, in feith.
    • Many a servant unto his Lord saith
      That all the world speaketh of him honóur,
      When the contrary of that is sooth in faith.
    • Line 217; vol. 1, p. 32; translation p. 60.

Regement of Princes (c. 1412)

  • O maister deere and Fadir reverent,
    Mi maister Chaucer, flour of eloquence,
    Mirour of fructuous entendement,
    O, universel fadir in science!
    Allas! þat þou thyn excellent prudence
    In þi bed mortel mightist naght by-qwethe;
    What eiled deth? allas! whi wolde he sle the?
    • O master dear and reverend father, my master Chaucer, flower of eloquence, mirror of fruitful wisdom, O universal father of knowledge! Alas, that on thy mortal bed thou mightest not bequeath thine excellent prudence! What aileth Death? Alas, why would he slay thee?
    • Line 1961; vol. 3, p. 71; translation from Roger Sherman Loomis and Rudolph Willard (eds.) Medieval English Verse and Prose in Modernized Versions (New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1948) p. 351.
  • With bookës of his ornat endytyng,
    That is to al þis land enlumynyng.
    • With books of his ornate writing
      That is to all this land illuminating.
    • Line 1973; vol. 3, p. 71; translation from Terry Jones et al. Who Murdered Chaucer? (London: Methuen, 2004) p. 4.
  • And fadir Chaucer fayn wolde han me taght;
    But I was dul and lernèd lite or naght.
    Allas! my worthi maister honorable,
    This landës verray tresor and richesse.
    • And father, Chaucer, fain would have me taught;
      But I was dull, and little learned or naught.
      Alas! my worthy master honouráble,
      This landés very treasure and richéssė.
    • Line 2078; vol. 3, pp. 75-6; modernized-spelling version from Henry S. Pancoast (ed.) English Prose and Verse from Beowulf to Stevenson (New York: H. Holt, 1915) pp. 81-2.
  • Who was hiër in philosophie
    To Aristotle, in our tonge, but thow?
    • Also, who was higher in Philosophy To Aristotle, in our tongue, but thou?
    • Line 2087; vol. 3, p. 76; translation from George Carver (ed.) The Catholic Tradition in English Literature (New York: Doubleday, 1928) p. 16.
  • The firste fyndere of our faire langage.
    • The first finder of our fair language.
    • Line 4978; vol. 3, p. 179; modernized-spelling version from Geoffrey Hughes A History of English Words (Oxford: Blackwell, 2000) p. 126.
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