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Geoffrey Chaucer >> The Canterbury Tales (page 32)


> Bitwixe hem two, now they been met yfeere.

Thise ladyes, whan that they hir tyme say,
Han taken hir and into chambre gon,
And strepen hir out of hir rude array
And in a clooth of gold that brighte shoon,
With a coroune of many a riche stoon
Upon hir heed, they into halle hir broghte,
And ther she was honured as hir oghte.

Thus hath this pitous day a blisful ende,
For every man and womman dooth his myght
This day in murthe and revel to dispende,
Til on the welkne shoon the sterres lyght.

For moore solempne in every mannes syght
This feste was, and gretter of costage,
Than was the revel of hire mariage.

Ful many a yeer in heigh prosperitee
Lyven thise two in concord and in reste.
And richely his doghter maryed he
Unto a lord, oon of the worthieste
Of al Ytaille, and thanne in pees and reste
His wyves fader in his court he kepeth,
Til that the soule out of his body crepeth.

His sone succedeth in his heritage
In reste and pees, after his fader day,
And fortunat was eek in mariage-
Al putte he nat his wyf in greet assay;
This world is nat so strong, it is no nay,
As it hath been of olde tymes yoore.
And herkneth what this auctour seith therfore.

This storie is seyd, nat for that wyves sholde
Folwen Grisilde as in humylitee,
For it were inportable though they wolde,
But for that every wight in his degree
Sholde be constant in adversitee
As was Grisilde. Therfore Petrark writeth
This storie, which with heigh stile he enditeth.

For sith a womman was so pacient
Unto a mortal man, wel moore us oghte
Receyven al in gree that God us sent.
For greet skile is, he preeve that he wroghte.
But he ne tempteth no man that he boghte,
As seith Seint Jame, if ye his pistel rede;
He preeveth folk al day, it is no drede,

And suffreth us, as for oure excercise,
With sharpe scourges of adversitee
Ful ofte to be bete in sondry wise,
Nat for to knowe oure wyl, for certes he
Er we were born knew al oure freletee,
And for oure beste is al his governaunce.
Lat us thanne lyve in vertuous suffraunce.

But o word, lordynges, herkneth er I go,
It were ful hard to fynde nowadayes
In al a toun Grisildis thre or two,
For it that they were put to swiche assayes,
The gold of hem hath now so badde alayes
With bras, that thogh the coyne be fair at eye,
It wolde rather breste atwo than plye.

For which, heere for the Wyves love of Bathe,
Whos lyf and al hir seete God mayntene
In heigh maistrie, and elles were it scathe,
I wol with lusty herte fressh and grene
Seyn yow a song, to glade yow, I wene,
And lat us stynte of ernestful matere.
Herkneth my song, that seith in this manere.

Lenvoy de Chaucer.

Grisilde is deed, and eek hir pacience,
And bothe atones buryed in Ytaille,
For which I crie in open audience
No wedded man so hardy be tassaille
His wyves pacience, in hope to fynde
Grisildis, for in certein he shal faille.

O noble wyves, ful of heigh prudence,
Lat noon humylitee youre tonge naille,
Ne lat no clerk have cause or diligence
To write of yow a storie of swich mervaille
As of Grisildis, pacient and kynde,
Lest Chichivache yow swelwe in hire entraille.

Folweth Ekko, that holdeth no silence,
But evere answereth at the countretaille;
Beth nat bidaffed for youre innocence,
But sharply taak on yow the governaille.
Emprenteth wel this lessoun in youre mynde
For commune profit, sith it may availle.

Ye archiwyves, stondeth at defense,
Syn ye be strong as is a greet camaille.
Ne suffreth nat that men yow doon offense,
And sklendre wyves, fieble as in bataille,
Beth egre as is a tygre yond in Ynde,
Ay clappeth as a mille, I yow consaille.

Ne dreed hem nat, doth hem no reverence,
For though thyn housbonde armed be in maille,
The arwes of thy crabbed eloquence
Shal perce his brest and eek his aventaille.
In jalousie I rede eek thou hym bynde,
And thou shalt make hym couche as doth a quaille.

If thou be fair, ther folk been in presence
Shewe thou thy visage and thyn apparaille;
If thou be foul, be fre of thy dispence,
To gete thee freendes ay do thy travaille,
Be ay of chiere as light as leef on lynde,
And lat hym care, and wepe, and wryng, and waille.

Here endeth the Clerk of Oxenford his Tale.

Bihoold the murye wordes of the Hoost.

This worthy clerk, whan ended was his tale,
Oure hoost seyde, and swoor by goddes bones,
"Me wyf at hoom had herd this legende ones;
This is a gentil tale for the nones,
As to my purpos, wiste ye my wille,-
But thyng that wol nat be, lat it be stille."

Heere endeth the tale of the Clerk of Oxenford.

(This stanza, perhaps made up by a scribe from other lines
in Chaucer, is inserted in Ellesmere MS. and elsewhere as a
link between the Clerk's Tale and the Envoy, ascribed to
Chaucer. The Envoy, however, belongs to the Clerk, and the
stanza seems both spurious and unnecessary.)

Part 24

THE PROLOGUE OF THE MARCHANTES TALE

The Prologe of the Marchantes tale.

"Wepyng and waylyng, care and oother sorwe,
I knowe ynogh, on even and a morwe,"
Quod the Marchant, "and so doon othere mo
That wedded been, I trowe that it be so.
For wel I woot, it fareth so with me.

I have a wyf, the worste that may be,
For thogh the feend to hire ycoupled were,
She wolde hym overmacche, I dar wel swere.
What sholde I yow reherce in special
Hir hye malice? She is a shrewe at al!

Ther is a long and large difference
Bitwix Grisildis grete pacience
And of my wyf the passyng crueltee.
Were I unbounden, al so moot I thee,
I wolde nevere eft comen in the snare.

We wedded men lyve in sorwe and care;
Assaye who so wole, and he shal fynde
I seye sooth, by Seint Thomas of Ynde-
As for the moore part, I seye nat alle;
God shilde, that it sholde so bifalle!

Ay, goode Sir Hoost, I have ywedded bee
Thise monthes two, and moore nat, pardee;
And yet I trowe, he that al his lyve
Wyflees hath been, though that men wolde him ryve
Unto the herte, ne koude in no manere

Tellen so muchel sorwe as I now heere
Koude tellen of my wyves cursednesse!"
Now quod our hoost, "Marchant, so God yow blesse,
Syn ye so muchel knowen of that art,
Ful hertely I pray yow telle us part."

"Gladly," quod he, "but of myn owene soore,
For soory herte I telle may namoore."

THE TALE.

(January, a rich old dotard, who has married May, in spite
of his friends' objections to the inequality of their ages, is
deceived by her and his young squire Damian, although Pluto in
pity restores his lost sight.)
Part 25

EPILOGUE

The Prologe of the Squieres tale.

"Ey, Goddes mercy!" seyde oure Hooste tho,
"Now swich a wyf I pray God kepe me fro!
Lo, whiche sleightes and subtilitees
In wommen been, for ay as bisy as bees
Been they us sely men for to deceyve;
And from a sooth evere wol they weyve,
By this Marchantes tale it preveth weel.
But doutelees, as trewe as any steel,
I have a wyf, though that she povre be,
But of hir tonge a labbyng shrewe is she.
And yet she hath an heep of vices mo-
Ther-of no fors, lat alle swiche thynges go.
But wyte ye what, in conseil be it seyd,
Me reweth soore I am unto hire teyd;
For and I sholde rekenen every vice,
Which that she hath, ywis, I were to nyce.
And cause why? it sholde reported be,
And toold to hir of somme of this meynee;
Of whom, it nedeth nat for to declare,
Syn wommen konnen outen swich chaffare.
And eek my with suffiseth nat therto,
To tellen al, wherfore my tale is do."

GROUP F.

PROLOGUE TO THE SQUIERES TALE

Squier, come neer, if it your wille be,
And sey somwhat of love, for certes, ye
Konnen theron as muche as any man."
"Nay sir," quod he, "but I wol seye as I kan,
With hertly wyl, for I wol nat rebelle
Agayn your lust. A tale wol I telle,
Have me excused if I speke amys;
My wyl is good, and lo, my tale is this."

THE SQUIERES TALE

Heere bigynneth the Squieres Tale.

At Sarray, in the land of Tartarye,
Ther dwelte a kyng, that werreyed Russye,
Thurgh which ther dyde many a doughty man.
This noble kyng was cleped Cambynskan,
Which in his tyme was of so greet renoun,

That ther was nowher in no regioun
So excellent a lord in alle thyng.
Hym lakked noght that longeth to a kyng;
And of the secte, of which that he was born,
He kepte his lay, to which that he was sworn;

And therto he was hardy, wys, and riche,
Pitous, and just, and everemoore yliche,
Sooth of his word, benigne, and honurable,
Of his corage as any centre stable,
Yong, fressh, strong, and in armes desirous

As any bacheler of al his hous.
A fair persone he was, and fortunat,
And kepte alwey so wel roial estat
That ther was nowher swich another man.
This noble kyng, this Tarte Cambynskan,

Hadde two sones on Elpheta his wyf,
Of whiche the eldeste highte Algarsyf,
That oother sone was cleped Cambalo.
A doghter hadde this worthy kyng also,
That yongest was, and highte Canacee.

But for to telle yow al hir beautee,
It lyth nat in my tonge nyn my konnyng.
I dar nat undertake so heigh a thyng;
Myn Englissh eek is insufficient.

I moste been a rethor excellent,

That koude hise colours longynge for that art,
If he sholde hir discryven every part.
I am noon swich; I moot speke as I kan.
And so bifel, that whan this Cambynskan
Hath twenty wynter born his diademe,

As he was wont fro yeer to yeer, I deme,
He leet the feeste of his nativitee
Doon cryen thurghout Sarray his citee,
The last Idus of March after the yeer.
Phebus the sonne ful joly was and cleer,

For he was neigh his exaltacioun
In Martes face, and in his mansioun
In Aries, the colerik hoote signe.
Ful lusty was the weder, and benigne,
For which the foweles agayn the sonne sheene,

What for the sesoun and the yonge grene,
Ful loude songen hir affecciouns;
Hem semed han geten hem protecciouns
Agayn the swerd of wynter, keene and coold.
This Cambynskan, of which I have yow toold,

In roial vestiment sit on his deys,
With diademe, ful heighe in his paleys,
And halt his feeste so solempne and so ryche,
That in this world ne was ther noon it lyche.
Of which, if I shal tellen al tharray,

Thanne wolde it occupie a someres day,
And eek it nedeth nat for to devyse,
At every cours, the ordre of hire servyse.
I wol nat tellen of hir strange sewes,
Ne of hir swannes, nor of hire heronsewes;

Eek in that lond, as tellen knyghtes olde,
Ther is som mete that is ful deynte holde,
That in this lond men recche of it but smal-
Ther nys no man that may reporten al.
I wol nat taryen yow, for it is pryme,

And for it is no fruyt but los of tyme.
Unto my firste I wole have my recours.
And so bifel, that after the thridde cours
Whil that htis kyng sit thus in his nobleye,
Herknynge hise mynstrals hir thynges pleye

Biforn hym at the bord deliciously,
In at the halle dore al sodeynly
Ther cam a knyght, upon a steede of bras,
And in his hand a brood mirour of glas,
Upon his thombe he hadde of gold a ryng,

And by his syde a naked swerd hangyng.
And up he rideth to the heighe bord.
In al the hall ne was ther spoken a word
For merveille of this knyght; hym to biholde
Ful bisily ther wayten yonge and olde.

This strange knyght, that cam thus sodeynly
Al armed, save his heed, ful richely,
Saleweth kyng, and queene, and lordes alle,
By ordre, as they seten in the halle,
With so heigh reverence and obeisaunce,

As wel in speche as in contenaunce,
That Gawayn, with his olde curteisye,
Though he were comen ayeyn out of Fairye,
Ne koude hym nat amende with a word.
And after this, biforn the heighe bord

He with a manly voys seith his message,
After the forme used in his langage,
Withouten vice of silable or of lettre.
And for his tale sholde seme the bettre,
Accordant to hise wordes was his cheere,

As techeth art of speche hem that it leere.
Al be it that I kan nat sowne his stile,
Ne kan nat clymben over so heigh a style,
Yet seye I this, as to commune entente,
Thus muche amounteth al that evere he mente,

If it so be that I have it in mynde.
He seyde, "The kyng of Arabe and of Inde,
My lige lord, on this solempne day
Saleweth yow, as he best kan and may;
And sendeth yow, in honour of your feeste,

By me, that am al redy at your heeste,
This steede of bras, that esily and weel
Kan in the space of o dday natureel,
This is to seyn, in foure and twenty houres,
Wherso yow lyst, in droghte or elles shoures,

Beren youre body into every place
To which youre herte wilneth for to pace,
Withouten wem of yow, thurgh foul or fair.
Or if yow lyst to fleen as hye in the air
As dooth an egle, whan that hym list to soore,


This same steede shal bere yow evere moore
Withouten harm, til ye be ther yow leste,
Though that ye slepen on his bak or reste;
And turne ayeyn, with writhyng of a pyn.
He that it wroghte, koude ful many a gyn;

He wayted many a constellacioun
Er he had doon this operacioun;
And knew ful many a seel, and many a bond.
This mirrour eek, that I have in myn hond,
Hath swich a myght, that men may in it see

Whan ther shal fallen any adversitee
Unto your regne, or to yourself also,
And openly who is your freend, or foo.
And over al this, if any lady bright
Hath set hir herte in any maner wight,

If he be fals, she sha

Title: The Canterbury Tales
Author: Geoffrey Chaucer
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