For so hope I my sowle best avaunce
, To prey for hem that Loves servauntz be, And write hire wo, and lyve in charitee, And for to have of hem compassioun, As though I were hire owne brother dere.
He appropriates language as he appropriates his female relations, rendering both debased currencies for exchange: Thy nece, thy cosyn, thy sister or thy doghter, If she be faire, if handsom be her myddell, Yf thy better hath her love besoght her, Avaunce
his cause and he shall help thy nede.
I see pat nchesse yefeth (='gives') no suffisaunce, Ne hyhe estate ne worldly reuerence, And pogh pat worldly fame a man avaunce
, Of gentilesse it 3euep (='gives') none evidence.
This wofull man rose up in all his paine, And departid with wepyng countinaunce, His wofull herte almoste to braste in twaine, Full like to die, walkyng forthe in a traunce, And sayid, Deth, come forthe, thy self avaunce
, Or that rayne herte forget his propertie, And make shortir all this wofull penaunce, Of my pore life, full of adversitie....
Such a complex interaction of apparently opposed forces becomes finally a demonstration of psychic health, and the reason for the challenging task of retelling the poem changes from the apparent altruism of serving other lovers, as asserted in the opening proem ("For so hope I my soule best avaunce
, / To prey for hem that Loves servauntz be, / And write hir wo, and lyve in charite" [I.47-49]), to a more individual but also more universal task of integrating the conflicting components of identity.