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DIMEV 4990
IMEV 3190
NIMEV 3190
Some time this world was so steadfast and stable
Geoffrey Chaucer, ‘Lak of Stedfastnesse’ — four stanzas rhyme royal, including one-stanza Envoy
Note: See 3563 for stanzas incorporated into another poem; editions which do not specify source include Urry (1721), 547; Chalmers (1810), 1.553-54; Clarke (1835), 2.304.
Author(s): Geoffrey Chaucer
Title(s): ‘Lak of Stedfastnesse’
Subjects: envoys; mutability; friends, false; transitoriness, of world; evils of the time; advice, to princes; princes, advice to
Versification: — seven-line — ababbcc



Manuscript Witnesses:
1.Source: Oxford, Bodleian Library Fairfax 16 (SC 3896), ff. 194-194v
First Lines:
Some tyme the worlde was so stedfast and stable
That mannes worde was obligacioun…
Last Lines:
…Drede god do law loue trouthe and worthynesse
And wedde thy folke ayeyne to stedfastnesse
Attributed Title: Balade (f. 194)
Facsimiles:
Norton-Smith, John. “Introduction.” Bodleian Library MS Fairfax 16. London: Scolar Press, 1979.
Editions:
Furnivall, Frederick James, ed. A Parallel-Text Edition of Chaucer’s Minor Poems. 3 vols. Chaucer Society 1st. ser. 21, 57, 58. London: Trübner, n.d. repr. New York and London: Johnson, 1967.
2.Source: Oxford, Bodleian Library Hatton 73 (SC 4119), f. 119
First Lines:
Sumtyme this world was so stedefast and stable
that mannes word was obligacioun…
Last Lines:
…Drede god do lawe loue trouthe & rightwesnesse
And dryue thi peple a gayn to stedefastnesse
Attributed Title: These baladdis were send to the kyng (f. 119); Lenvoy (in the right margin against the last stanza)
Editions:
Furnivall, Frederick James, ed. Odd Texts of the Minor Poems. 2 vols. Chaucer Society 1st ser. 23, 60. London: Trübner, 1868, 1880; repr. New York and London: Johnson, 1967.
3.Source: Cambridge UK, Magdalene College Pepys 2553, pp. 329-330
First Lines:
Sum tyme þe warld so stedfast wes and stable
That manis word wes obligatioun…
Last Lines:
…Dreid god do law luf treuth and rychtuousnes
And leid þi folk agane to stedfastnes
Editions:
Pinkerton, John, ed. Ancient Scottish Poems Never Before in Print. 2 vols. London and Edinburgh, 1786: 271-2.
Craigie, William Alexander. The Maitland Folio Manuscript, Containing Poems by Sir Richard Maitland, Dunbar, Douglas, Henryson, and others. 2 vols. Scottish Text Society n.s. 7 (1919), 20 (1927); Edinburgh and London: Blackwood, 1919, 1927: 1.397-8.
4.Source: Cambridge UK, Trinity College R.3.20 (600), pp. 356-357
First Lines:
Sume tyme þis worlde was so stedfast and stable
Þat mans worde was holde for obligacyone…
Last Lines:
…Dreede god do lawe love trouth and worþynesse
And dryve þy people ageine to stidfastnesse
Attributed Author: Balades by Chaucer Made (RT)
Attributed Title: Balade Royal made by oure laureal poete of Albyoun in hees laste yeeres (p. 356); Balades by Chaucer Made (RT)
Editions:
Furnivall, Frederick James, ed. A Parallel-Text Edition of Chaucer’s Minor Poems. 3 vols. Chaucer Society 1st. ser. 21, 57, 58. London: Trübner, n.d. repr. New York and London: Johnson, 1967.
Pace, George B., and Alfred David, eds. The Minor Poems of Geoffrey Chaucer: A Variorum Edition of The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer vol. 5, part 1. Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press, 1982: 84.
5.Source: Cambridge UK, Trinity College R.14.51 (921), f. ii
First Lines:
Wylum the wordule was stedefaste & stable
That mannys word was oblygacyun…
Last Lines:
…Drede god do law loue trouþe & Ryhtwysnis
And wedde ayeyn thy folke to stedefastnes
Attributed Title: Balad (f. ii)
Editions:
Furnivall, Frederick James, ed. A Supplementary Parallel-Text Edition of Chaucer’s Minor Poems. 2 vols. Chaucer Society 1st ser. 22, 59. London: Trübner, n.d.; repr. New York and London: Johnson, 1967.
6.Source: London, British Library Addit. 22139, f. 138ra2-138rb
First Lines:
Some time this worlde wasso stedfast & stable
That mannes worde was obligacioun…
Last Lines:
…Drede thee do law loue trouth and wurthinesse
And wed thi folke agayne to stedfastness
Note: Lacks Envoy; no title or break between the texts on fol 138r.
Editions:
Furnivall, Frederick James, ed. A Parallel-Text Edition of Chaucer’s Minor Poems. 3 vols. Chaucer Society 1st. ser. 21, 57, 58. London: Trübner, n.d. repr. New York and London: Johnson, 1967.
7.Source: London, British Library Cotton Cleopatra D.VII, ff. 188v-189
First Lines:
Sumtyme the worlde was so stedfast and stable
That mannes worde was obligacioun…
Last Lines:
…Drede god do law loue truthe and worthynesse
And wed thi folk ayen to stedfastnesse
Note: Lacks Envoy.
Editions:
Furnivall, Frederick James, ed. A Parallel-Text Edition of Chaucer’s Minor Poems. 3 vols. Chaucer Society 1st. ser. 21, 57, 58. London: Trübner, n.d. repr. New York and London: Johnson, 1967.
Skeat, Walter William, ed. The Complete Works of Geoffrey Chaucer. 7 vols. Oxford: Clarendon, 1894-7: 1.394-5.
Pace, George B. “Chaucer’s Lak of Stedfastnesse.” Studies in Bibliography 4 (1951-52): 105-22: 119-20.
Robinson, F. N., ed. The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer. Oxford: Clarendon, 1933; 2nd ed. 1957: 632; 1957; 537.
Luria, Maxwell Sidney, and Richard L. Hoffman, eds. Middle English Lyrics. New York: Norton, 1974: 167-8.
Pace, George B., and Alfred David, eds. The Minor Poems of Geoffrey Chaucer: A Variorum Edition of The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer vol. 5, part 1. Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press, 1982: 85-9.
Benson, Larry Dean, ed. The Riverside Chaucer. 3rd ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1987: 654.
8.Source: London, British Library Cotton Otho A.XVIII (MS destroyed by fire; transcribed by William Thomas, 1721)
Editions:
Pace, George B. “Otho A.XVIII.” Speculum 26 (1951): 306-16: 306-7.
9.Source: London, British Library Harley 7333, f. 147va-147vb
First Lines:
SVme tyme this worlde was so stedfaste & stable
That manis owrde was holde obligacioun…
Last Lines:
…Drede god do lawe love thorow all goddnesse
And drive thi peple A geyne to stedfastnesse
Attributed Title: This balade made Geffrey Caunciers the / Laureall Poete Of albioun and sent it to / his souerain lorde kynge Richarde the secounde þane being in his Castell of Windesore (f. 147va, rubric)
Editions:
Furnivall, Frederick James, ed. A One-Text Print of the Minor Poems. 2 pts. London: Trübner, 1871, 1880; repr. New York and London: Johnson, 1967.
10.Source: London, British Library Harley 7578, ff. 17r2-17v
First Lines:
Somme tyme worlde was stedfast and stable
That manys worde was obligacion…
Last Lines:
…dreed god doo lawe loue trouth and worthinesse
And weed thine folke agayne to stedfastnesse
Note: Annotation in later hand in the margins of the envoy: ‘To Kinge Henry IV’ (f. 17v).
Editions:
Furnivall, Frederick James, ed. A Parallel-Text Edition of Chaucer’s Minor Poems. 3 vols. Chaucer Society 1st. ser. 21, 57, 58. London: Trübner, n.d. repr. New York and London: Johnson, 1967.
Wright, Thomas, and James Orchard Halliwell-Phillipps, eds. Reliquiae Antiquae. 2 vols. London: Smith, 1845: 1.229.
11.Source: Coventry, Coventry Archives Acc. 325/1, ff. 76vb-77ra
First Lines:
SOme time þe world was so stedfast & stable
That mannes worde was obligacioun…
Last Lines:
…ffro Righte to wronge for trouth to fekilnesse
That all is lost for defaute of stedefastnesse
Attributed Title: Balade (f. 76vb)
12.Source: Edinburgh, National Library of Scotland, Advocates’ 1.1.6 [Bannatyne MS], f. 67
First Lines:
Sum tyme this warld so steidfast was & stabill
That manis word was obligatioun…
Last Lines:
…Dreid god do law luve trewith and richtousnes
And bring thy folk agane to steidfastnes
Note: With a spurious fourth stanza.
Facsimiles:
Fox, Denton, and William A. Ringler. The Bannatyne Manuscript: National Library of Scotland Advocates’ MS. 1.1.6 London: Scolar Press, in Association with The National Library of Scotland, 1980.
Editions:
Furnivall, Frederick James, ed. A Supplementary Parallel-Text Edition of Chaucer’s Minor Poems. 2 vols. Chaucer Society 1st ser. 22, 59. London: Trübner, n.d.; repr. New York and London: Johnson, 1967.
Murdoch, James Barclay. The Bannatyne Manuscript. 4 vols. in 11 parts, paged continuously. Hunterian Club 16, 32, 40, 46, 50, 55-56, 64-67 Glasgow: Anderson, 1873-1896: 181-2.
Ritchie, W. Tod, ed. The Bannatyne Manuscript. 4 parts in 4 vols. Scottish Text Society 3rd ser. 5 (1928); n.s. 22 (1928); n.s. 23 (1930); n.s. 26 (1934) Edinburgh and London: Blackwood, 1928-34; ed. by Ritchie et al: 2.164-5.
13.Source: London, Lambeth Palace Library 344, f. 11
First Lines:
Sum tyme thys world was so stedfast and stabyl
That man ys word was oblygacyoun…
Last Lines:
…drede god do lawe love trowyt and ryghtwesnesse
And dryve thy peple ageyne to stedfastnesse
Note: With a spurious fourth stanza.
Attributed Title: These baladdys were sent to the kynge (f. 11)
Editions:
Brotanek, Rudolph. Mittelenglische Dichtungen aus der Handschrift 432 des Trinity College in Dublin. Halle: Niemeyer, 1940.
MacCracken, Henry Noble. “Notes Suggested by a Chaucer Codex.” Modern Language Notes 23 (1908): 212-14: 214.
14.Source: New Haven, Yale University, Beinecke Library 365 [olim Ipswich County Hall deposit, Hillwood; prior Brome Hall, Suffolk], f. 80v
Note: With a spurious fourth stanza.
Editions:
Smith, Lucy Toulmin, ed. A Commonplace Book of the Fifteenth Century. Norwich: Kerrison, Goose, 1886: 19.
15.Source: Dublin, Trinity College, Dublin 432, f. 59v
First Lines:
…[ ]es that desyre to be honerable
[ ]isshe þe youre folk hate extorcioun
Suffer no thing þat may be reprouable…
Last Lines:
…What causeþ this but sotel dowblenes
Þat is lost for lak of stedfastnes
Note: Lacks stanza 1.



Print Witnesses:
1.Source: Geoffrey Chaucer, Workes, Thynne, 1532 , f. 381ra-381rb
First Lines:
Somtyme þe world so stedfast was & stable
That mannes worde was an oblygacioun…
Last Lines:
…Drede god do lawe loue trouth & worthynes
And wedde thy folke ayen to stedfastnesse
Note: Lacks stanza 1.
2.Source: STC 5075. Chaucer, Geoffrey, The workes of Geffrey Chaucer, newlie printed, with diuers addicions, whiche were neuer in print before: with the siege and destruccion of the worthy citee of Thebes, compiled by Ihon Lidgate, Monke of Berie. As in the table more plainly doeth appere, [Imprinted at London: By Ihon Kyngston, for Ihon Wight, dwellyng in Poules Churchyarde], 1561
Note: Lacks stanza 1.
Editions:
Anderson, Robert. The Works of the British Poets, or, Complete Edition of the Poets of Great Britain. 13 vols. Vol. 1. Edinburgh, 1793; London, 1795: 1.577-78.