John Gower

English writer

John Gower (c. 13301408) was an English poet who wrote in English, French and Latin. His most famous work is the Confessio Amantis.


  • For whan men wene best to have achieved,
    Ful ofte it is al newe to beginne:
    The werre hath no thing siker, thogh he winne.
    • "In Praise of Peace", line 117.

Confessio AmantisEdit

Quotations are taken from the third recension of the poem, unless otherwise stated.
  • Bot for men sein, and soth it is,
    That who that al of wisdom writ
    It dulleth ofte a mannes wit
    To him that schal it aldai rede,
    For thilke cause, if that ye rede,
    I wolde go the middel weie
    And wryte a bok betwen the tweie,
    Somwhat of lust, somewhat of lore.
    • Prologue, line 12.
  • But in proverbe I have herde say,
    That who that wel his werk beginneth,
    The rather a good end he winneth.
    • Prologue (First recension), line 86.
  • For loves lawe is out of reule.
    • Bk. 1, line 18.
  • It hath and schal ben everemor
    That love is maister wher he wile.
    • Bk. 1, line 34.
  • He hath the sor which no man heleth,
    The which is cleped lack of herte.
    • Bk. 4, line 334.
  • O fol of alle foles,
    Thou farst as he betwen tuo stoles
    That wolde sitte and goth to grounde.
    • Bk. 4, line 625.
  • The beauté faye upon her face
    Non erthly thing it may desface.
    • Bk. 4, line 1321.
  • Nevere yit
    Was non, which half so loste his wit
    Of drinke, as thei of such thing do
    Which cleped is the jolif wo.
    • Bk. 6, line 31.
  • What is a lond wher men ben none?
    What ben the men whiche are alone
    Withoute a kinges governance?
    What is a king in his ligance,
    Wher that ther is no lawe in londe?
    What is to take lawe on honde,
    Bot if the jugges weren trewe?
    • Bk. 7, line 2695.
  • So goth the world, now wo, now wel
    • Bk. 8, line 1738.


  • In the content of his work it is interesting to notice that he is profoundly English. His romanticism, and his choice of the theme of Time and Age – both these look back to the Anglo-Saxons and forward to the nineteenth century. Yet his form is French. The heart is insular and romantic, the head cool and continental: it is a good combination.

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