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Geoffrey Chaucer >> The Canterbury Tales (page 7)


The crueel ire, reed as any gleede,
The pykepurs, and eek the pale drede,
The smyler with the knyfe under the cloke,
The shepne brennynge with the blake smoke,

The tresoun of the mordrynge in the bedde,
The open werre, with woundes al bibledde,
Contek, with blody knyf and sharp manace,
Al ful of chirkyng was that sory place.
The sleer of hymself yet saugh I ther,

His herte-blood hath bathed al his heer;
The nayl ydryven in the shode a nyght,
The colde deeth, with mouth gapyng upright.
Amyddes of the temple sat Meschaunce,
With Disconfort and Sory Contenaunce.

Yet saugh I Woodnesse laughynge in his rage,
Armed Compleint, Outhees, and fiers Outrage;
The careyne in the busk with throte ycorve,
A thousand slayn, and nat of qualm ystorve,
The tiraunt with the pray by force yraft,

The toun destroyed, ther was nothyng laft.
Yet saugh I brent the shippes hoppesteres,
The hunte strangled with the wilde beres,
The sowe freten the child right in the cradel,
The cook yscalded, for al his longe ladel.

Noght was foryeten by the infortune of Marte,
The cartere over-ryden with his carte,
Under the wheel ful lowe he lay adoun.
Ther were also, of Martes divisioun,
The barbour, and the bocher, and the smyth

That forgeth sharpe swerdes on his styth.
And al above, depeynted in a tour,
Saugh I Conquest sittynge in greet honour,
With the sharpe swerd over his heed
Hangynge by a soutil twyned threed.

Depeynted was the slaughtre of Julius,
Of grete Nero, and of Antonius;
Al be that thilke tyme they were unborn,
Yet was hir deth depeynted therbiforn
By manasynge of Mars, right by figure;

So was it shewed in that portreiture,
As is depeynted in the sterres above
Who shal be slayn or elles deed for love.
Suggiseth oon ensample in stories olde,
I may nat rekene hem alle though I wolde.

The statue of Mars upon a carte stood
Armed, and looked grym as he were wood,
And over his heed ther shynen two figures
Of sterres, that been cleped in scriptures
That oon Puella, that oother Rubeus.

This god of armes was arrayed thus:
A wolf ther stood biforn hym at his feet,
With eyen rede, and of a man he eet.
With soutil pencel was depeynt this storie,
In redoutynge of Mars and of his glorie.

Now to the temple of Dyane the chaste
As shortly as I kan I wol me haste,
To telle yow al the descripsioun.
Depeynted been the walles up and doun
Of huntyng and of shamefast chastitee.

Ther saugh I, how woful Calistopee
Whan that Diane agreved was with here,
Was turned from a womman til a bere,
And after was she maad the loode-sterre;-
Thus was it peynted, I kan sey yow no ferre-

Hir sone is eek a sterre, as men may see.
Ther saugh I Dane, yturned til a tree,
I mene nat the goddesse Diane,
But Penneus doughter which that highte Dane.
Ther saugh I Attheon an hert ymaked,

For vengeaunce that he saugh Diane al naked.
I saugh how that hise houndes have hym caught
And freeten hym, for that they knewe hym naught.
Yet peynted was a litel forthermoor
How Atthalante hunted the wilde boor,

And Meleagree, and many another mo,
For which Dyane wroghte hym care and wo.
Ther saugh I many another wonder storie,
The whiche me list nat drawen to memorie.
This goddesse on an hert ful hye seet,

With smale houndes al aboute hir feet;
And undernethe hir feet she hadde a moone,
Wexynge it was, and sholde wanye soone.
In gaude grene hir statue clothed was,
With bowe in honde, and arwes in a cas.

Hir eyen caste she ful lowe adoun,
Ther Pluto hath his derke regioun.
A womman travaillynge was hir biforn;
But for hir child so longe was unborn
Ful pitously Lucyna gan she calle,

And seyde, "Help, for thou mayst best of alle!"
Wel koude he peynten lyfly, that it wroghte,
With many a floryn he the hewes boghte.
Now been thise listes maad, and Theseus,
That at his grete cost arrayed thus

The temples, and the theatre every deel,
Whan it was doon, hym lyked wonder weel.-
But stynte I wole of Theseus a lite,
And speke of Palamon and of Arcite.
The day approcheth of hir retournynge,

That everich sholde an hundred knyghtes brynge
The bataille to darreyne, as I yow tolde.
And til Atthenes, hir covenantz for to holde,
Hath everich of hem broght an hundred knyghtes,
Wel armed for the werre at alle rightes.

And sikerly, ther trowed many a man,
That nevere sithen that the world bigan,
As for to speke of knyghthod of hir hond,
As fer as God hath maked see or lond,
Nas of so fewe so noble a compaignye.

For every wight that lovede chivalrye,
And wolde, his thankes, han a passant name,
Hath preyed that he myghte been of that game;
And wel was hym that therto chosen was.
For if ther fille tomorwe swich a cas

Ye knowen wel, that every lusty knyght
That loveth paramours, and hath his myght,
Were it in Engelond or elles where,
They wolde, hir thankes, wilnen to be there,
To fighte for a lady, benedicitee!

It were a lusty sighte for to see.
And right so ferden they with Palamon,
With hym ther wenten knyghtes many on.
Som wol ben armed in an haubergeoun,
In a bristplate, and in a light gypoun,

And somme woln have a paire plates large,
And somme woln have a Pruce sheeld, or a targe,
Somme woln ben armed on hir legges weel,
And have an ax, and somme a mace of steel.
Ther is no newe gyse, that it nas old;

Armed were they, as I have yow told,
Everych after his opinioun.
Ther maistow seen comyng with Palamoun
Lygurge hym-self, the grete kyng of Trace.
Blak was his berd, and manly was his face,

The cercles of hise eyen in his heed,
They gloweden bitwyxen yelow and reed,
And lik a griff on looked he aboute,
With kempe heeris on hise browes stoute,
Hise lymes grete, hise brawnes harde and stronge,

Hise shuldres brode, hise armes rounde and longe;
And as the gyse was in his contree,
Ful hye upon a chaar of gold stood he,
With foure white boles in the trays.
In stede of cote-armure, over his harnays

With nayles yelewe and brighte as any gold
He hadde a beres skyn, colblak, for-old;
His longe heer was kembd bihynde his bak,
As any ravenes fethere it shoon for-blak.
A wrethe of gold arm-greet, of huge wighte,

Upon his heed, set ful of stones brighte,
Of fyne rubyes and of dyamauntz.
Aboute his chaar ther wenten white alauntz,
Twenty and mo, as grete as any steer,
To hunten at the leoun or the deer,

And folwed hym, with mosel faste ybounde,
Colored of gold, and tourettes fyled rounde.
An hundred lordes hadde he in his route,
Armed ful wel, with hertes stierne and stoute.
With Arcita, in stories as men fynde,

The grete Emetreus, the kyng of Inde,
Upon a steede bay, trapped in steel,
Covered in clooth of gold dyapred weel,
Cam ridynge lyk the god of armes, Mars.
His cote-armure was of clooth of Tars,

Couched with perles white and rounde and grete.
His sadel was of brend gold newe ybete;
A mantelet upon his shuldre hangynge
Bret-ful of rubyes rede, as fyr sparklynge.
His crispe heer lyk rynges was yronne,

And that was yelow, and glytered as the sonne.
His nose was heigh, hise eyen bright citryn,
Hise lippes rounde, his colour was sangwyn;
A fewe frakenes in his face yspreynd,
Bitwixen yelow and somdel blak ymeynd,

And as a leoun he his looking caste.
Of fyve and twenty yeer his age I caste;
His berd was wel bigonne for to sprynge,
His voys was as a trompe thonderynge.
Upon his heed he wered of laurer grene

A gerland, fressh and lusty for to sene.
Upon his hand he bar for his deduyt
An egle tame, as any lilye whyt.
An hundred lordes hadde he with hym there,
Al armed, save hir heddes, in al hir gere,

Ful richely in alle maner thynges.
For trusteth wel, that dukes, erles, kynges,
Were gadered in this noble compaignye,
For love, and for encrees of chivalrye.
Aboute this kyng ther ran on every part

Ful many a tame leoun and leopard,
And in this wise thise lordes alle and some
Been on the sonday to the citee come,
Aboute pryme, and in the toun alight.
This Theseus, this duc, this worthy knyght,

Whan he had broght hem into his citee,
And inned hem, everich in his degree,
He festeth hem, and dooth so greet labour
To esen hem and doon hem al honour,
That yet men weneth that no maner wit

Of noon estaat ne koude amenden it.
The mynstralcye, the service at the feeste,
The grete yiftes to the mooste and leeste,
The riche array of Theseus paleys,
Ne who sat first ne last upon the deys,

What ladyes fairest been, or best daunsynge,
Or which of hem kan dauncen best and synge,
Ne who moost felyngly speketh of love,
What haukes sitten on the perche above,
What houndes liggen in the floor adoun-

Of al this make I now no mencioun;
But, al theffect, that thynketh me the beste,
Now cometh the point, and herkneth if yow leste.
The sonday nyght, er day bigan to sprynge,
Whan Palamon the lsrke herde synge,

Al though it nere nat day by houres two,
Yet song the larke, and Palamon also.
With hooly herte and with an heigh corage
He roos, to wenden on his pilgrymage,
Unto the blisful Citherea benigne,

I mene Venus, honurable and digne.
And in hir houre he walketh forth a pas
Unto the lystes, ther hire temple was,
And doun he kneleth, with ful humble cheer,
And herte soor, and seyde in this manere.

"Faireste of faire, O lady myn, Venus,
Doughter to Jove, and spouse of Vulcanus,
Thow glader of the Mount of Citheron,
For thilke love thow haddest to Adoon,
Have pitee of my bittre teeris smerte,

And taak myn humble preyere at thyn herte.
Allas, I ne have no langage to telle
Theffectes, ne the tormentz of myn helle!
Myn herte may myne harmes nat biwreye,
I am so confus that I kan noght seye.

But mercy, lady bright! that knowest weele
My thought, and seest what harmes that I feele.
Considere al this, and rewe upon my soore,
As wisly, as I shal for everemoore,
Emforth my myght, thy trewe servant be,

And holden werre alwey with chastitee.
That make I myn avow, so ye me helpe.
I kepe noght of armes for to yelpe,
Ne I ne axe nat tomorwe to have victorie,
Ne renoun in this cas, ne veyne glorie

Of pris of armes blowen up and doun,
But I wolde have fully possessioun
Of Emelye, and dye in thy servyse.
Fynd thow the manere how, and in what wyse-
I recche nat, but it may bettre be

To have victorie of hem, or they of me-
So that I have my lady in myne armes.
For though so be, that Mars is god of armes,
Youre vertu is so greet in hevene above
That if yow list, I shal wel have my love.

Thy temple wol I worshipe everemo,
And on thyn auter, where I ride or go,
I wol doon sacrifice and fires beete.
And if ye wol nat so, my lady sweete,
Thanne preye I thee, tomorwe with a spere

That Arcita me thurgh the herte bere.
Thanne rekke I noght, whan I have lost my lyf,
Though that Arcita wynne hir to his wyf.
This is theffect and ende of my preyere,
Yif me my love, thow blisful lady deere!"

Whan the orison was doon of Palamon,
His sacrifice he dide, and that anon,
Ful pitously with alle circumstaunce;
Al telle I noght as now his observaunce.
But atte laste, the statue of Venus shook,

And made a signe wherby that he took
That his preyere accepted was that day.
For thogh the signe shewed a delay,
Yet wiste he wel that graunted was his boone,
And with glad herte he wente hym hoom ful soone.

The thridde houre inequal, that Palamon
Bigan to Venus temple for to gon,
Up roos the sonne, and up roos Emelye,
And to the temple of Dyane gan hye.
Hir maydens that she thider with hir ladde,

Ful redily with hem the fyr they ladde,
Thencens, the clothes, and the remenant al
That to the sacrifice longen shal.
The hornes fulle of meeth, as was the gyse,
Ther lakked noght to doon hir sacrifise,

Smokynge the temple, ful of clothes faire.
This Emelye, with herte debonaire,
Hir body wessh with water of a welle-
But how she dide hir ryte I dar nat telle,
But it be any thing in general;

And yet it were a game to heeren al,
To hym that meneth wel it were no charge,
But it is good a man been at his large.-
Hir brighte heer was kempt untressed al,
A coroune of a grene ook cerial

Upon hir heed was set, ful fair and meete.
Two fyres on the suter gan she beete,
And dide hir thynges as men may biholde
In Stace of Thebes, and thise bookes olde.
Whan kyndled was the fyr, with pitous cheere

Unto Dyane she spak as ye may heere.
"O chaste goddesse of the wodes grene,
To whom bothe hevene and erthe and see is sene,
Queene of the regne of Pluto derk and lowe,
Goddesse of maydens, that myn herte hast knowe

Ful many a yeer, and woost what I desire,
As keep me fro thy vengeaunce and thyn ire,
That Attheon aboughte cruelly.
Chaste goddesse, wel wostow that I
Desire to ben a mayden al my lyf,

Ne nevere wol I be no love ne wyf.
I am, thow woost, yet of thy compaignye,
A mayde, and love huntynge and venerye,
And for to walken in the wodes wilde,
And noght to ben a wyf, and be with childe.

Noght wol I knowe the compaignye of man;
Now helpe me, lady, sith ye may and kan,
For tho thre formes that thou hast in thee.
And Palamon, that hath swich love to me,
And eek Arcite, that loveth me so sore,

This grace I preye thee, withoute moore,
As sende love and pees bitwixe hem two,
And fro me turne awey hir hertes so,
That al hir hoote love and hir desir,
And al hi

Title: The Canterbury Tales
Author: Geoffrey Chaucer
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