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Geoffrey Chaucer >> The Canterbury Tales (page 8)


r bisy torment and hir fir,

Be queynt, or turned in another place.
And if so be thou wolt do me no grace,
And if my destynee be shapen so
That I shal nedes have oon of hem two,
As sende me hym that moost desireth me.

Bihoold, goddesse, of clene chastitee,
The bittre teeris that on my chekes falle.
Syn thou art mayde and kepere of us alle,
My maydenhede thou kepe and wel conserve,
And whil I lyve a mayde, I wol thee serve."

The fires brenne upon the auter cleere,
Whil Emelye was thus in hir preyere;
But sodeynly she saugh a sighte queynte,
For right anon oon of the fyres queynte,
And quyked agayn, and after that anon

That oother fyr was queynt and al agon.
And as it queynte, it made a whistelynge
As doon thise wete brondes in hir brennynge;
And at the brondes ende out ran anon
As it were blody dropes many oon;

For which so soore agast was Emelye
That she was wel ny mad, and gan to crye;
For she ne wiste what it signyfied.
But oonly for the feere thus hath she cried,
And weep that it was pitee for to heere;

And therwithal Dyane gan appeere,
With bowe in honde, right as an hunteresse,
And seyde, "Doghter, stynt thyn hevynesse.
Among the goddes hye it is affermed,
And by eterne word writen and confermed,

Thou shalt ben wedded unto oon of tho
That han for thee so muchel care and wo.
But unto which of hem I may nat telle,
Farwel, for I ne may no lenger dwelle.
The fires whiche that on myn auter brenne

Shule thee declaren, er that thou go henne,
Thyn aventure of love, as in this cas."
And with that word, the arwes in the caas
Of the goddesse clateren faste and rynge,
And forth she wente, and made a vanysshynge,

For which this Emelye astoned was,
And seyde, "What amounteth this, allas!
I putte me in thy proteccioun,
Dyane, and in thy disposicioun!"
And hoom she goth anon the nexte weye.

This is theffect, ther is namoore to seye.
The nexte houre of Mars folwynge this
Arcite unto the temple walked is
Of fierse Mars, to doon his sacrifise
With alle the rytes of his payen wyse.

With pitous herte and heigh devocioun
Right thus to Mars he seyde his orisoun.
"O stronge god, that in the regnes colde
Of Trace honoured art and lord yholde,
And hast in every regne and every lond

Of armes al the brydel in thyn hond,
And hem fortunest as thee lyst devyse,
Accepte of me my pitous sacrifise.
If so be that my youthe may deserve,
And that my myght be worthy for to serve

Thy godhede, that I may been oon of thyne,
Thanne preye I thee to rewe upon my pyne.
For thilke peyne, and thilke hoote fir,
In which thou whilom brendest for desir
Whan that thow usedest the greet beautee

Of faire yonge fresshe Venus free,
And haddest hir in armes at thy wille-
Al though thee ones on a tyme mysfille
Whan Vulcanus hadde caught thee in his las,
And foond thee liggynge by his wyf, allas!-

For thilke sorwe that was in thyn herte
Have routhe as wel, upon my peynes smerte!
I am yong and unkonnynge as thow woost,
And, as I trowe, with love offended moost
That evere was any lyves creature;

For she that dooth me al this wo endure,
Ne reccheth nevere wher I synke or fleete.
And wel I woot, er she me mercy heete,
I moot with strengthe wynne hir in the place.
And wel I woot, withouten help or grace

Of thee, ne may my strengthe noght availle.
Thanne help me, lord, tomorwe in my bataille
For thilke fyr that whilom brente thee,
As wel as thilke fyr now brenneth me!
And do that I tomorwe have victorie,

Myn be the travaille and thyn be the glorie.
Thy sovereyn temple wol I moost honouren
Of any place, and alwey moost labouren
In thy plesaunce, and in thy craftes stronge,
And in thy temple I wol my baner honge,

And alle the armes of my compaignye;
And evere-mo, unto that day I dye,
Eterne fir I wol biforn thee fynde.
And eek to this avow I wol me bynde;
My beerd, myn heer, that hongeth long adoun,

That nevere yet ne felte offensioun
Of rasour, nor of shere, I wol thee yeve,
And ben thy trewe servant whil I lyve.
Now lord, have routhe upon my sorwes soore;
Yif me the victorie, I aske thee namoore!"

The preyere stynt of Arcita the stronge;
The rynges on the temple dore that honge,
And eek the dores clatereden ful faste,
Of which Arcita somwhat hym agaste.
The fyres brenden upon the auter brighte,

That it gan al the temple for to lighte,
And sweete smel the ground anon upyaf,
And Arcita anon his hand uphaf,
And moore encens into the fyr he caste,
With othere rytes mo, and atte laste

The statue of Mars bigan his hauberk rynge,
And with that soun he herde a murmurynge,
Ful lowe and dym, and seyde thus, `Victorie!'
For which he yaf to Mars honour and glorie;
And thus with joye and hope wel to fare,

Arcite anon unto his in is fare,
As fayn as fowel is of the brighte sonne.
And right anon swich strif ther is bigonne
For thilke grauntyng in the hevene above
Bitwixe Venus, the Goddesse of Love,

And Mars the stierne God armypotente,
That Jupiter was bisy it to stente;
Til that the pale Saturnus the colde,
That knew so manye of aventures olde,
Foond in his olde experience an art

That he ful soone hath plesed every part.
As sooth is seyd, elde hath greet avantage;
In elde is bothe wysdom and usage;
Men may the olde atrenne, and noght atrede.
Saturne anon, to stynten strif and drede,

Al be it that it is agayn his kynde,
Of al this strif he gan remedie fynde.
"My deere doghter Venus," quod Saturne,
"My cours, that hath so wyde for to turne,
Hath moore power than woot any man.

Myn is the drenchyng in the see so wan,
Myn is the prison in the derke cote,
Myn is the stranglyng and hangyng by the throte,
The murmure, and the cherles rebellyng,
The groynynge, and the pryvee empoysonyng.

I do vengeance and pleyn correccioun,
Whil I dwelle in the signe of the leoun.
Myn is the ruyne of the hye halles,
The fallynge of the toures and of the walles
Upon the mynour, or the carpenter.

I slow Sampsoun shakynge the piler,
And myne be the maladyes colde,
The derke tresons, and the castes olde;
My lookyng is the fader of pestilence.
Now weep namoore, I shal doon diligence

That Palamon, that is thyn owene knyght,
Shal have his lady, as thou hast him hight.
Though Mars shal helpe his knyght, yet nathelees
Bitwixe yow ther moot be somtyme pees,
Al be ye noght of o compleccioun-

That causeth al day swich divisioun.
I am thyn aiel, redy at thy wille,
Weep now namoore, I wol thy lust fulfille."
Now wol I stynten of the goddes above,
Of Mars and of Venus, goddesse of Love,

And telle yow, as pleynly as I kan,
The grete effect for which that I bygan.

Explicit tercia pars.

Sequitur pars quarta.

Greet was the feeste in Atthenes that day,
And eek the lusty seson of that May
Made every wight to been in such plesaunce

That al that Monday justen they and daunce,
And spenten it in Venus heigh servyse.
And by the cause that they sholde ryse
Eerly for to seen the grete fight,
Unto hir rest wenten they at nyght.

And on the morwe, whan that day gan sprynge,
Of hors and harneys, noyse and claterynge
Ther was in hostelryes al aboute.
And to the paleys rood ther many a route
Of lordes, upon steedes and palfreys.

Ther maystow seen divisynge of harneys
So unkouth and so riche, and wroght so weel,
Of goldsmythrye, of browdynge, and of steel;
The sheeldes brighte, testeres, and trappures;
Gold-hewen helmes, hauberkes, cote-armures;

Lordes in parementz on hir courseres,
Knyghtes of retenue and eek squieres,
Nailynge the speres, and helmes bokelynge,
Giggynge of sheeldes, with layneres lacynge.
There as nede is, they weren nothyng ydel.

The fomy steedes on the golden brydel
Gnawynge, and faste the armurers also
With fyle and hamer prikynge to and fro;
Yemen on foote and communes many oon,
With shorte staves thikke as they may goon,

Pypes, trompes, nakerers, clariounes,
That in the bataille blowen blody sounes;
The paleys ful of peples up and doun,
Heere thre, ther ten, holdynge hir questioun,
Dyvynynge of thise Thebane knyghtes two.

Somme seyden thus, somme seyde it shal be so,
Somme helden with hym with the blake berd,
Somme with the balled, somme with the thikke-herd,
Somme seyde he looked grymme, and he wolde fighte,
He hath a sparth of twenty pound of wighte,

Thus was the halle ful of divynynge
Longe after that the sonne gan to sprynge.
The grete Theseus, that of his sleep awaked
With mynstralcie and noyse that was maked,
Heeld yet the chambre of his paleys riche,

Til that the Thebane knyghtes, bothe yliche
Honured, were into the paleys fet.
Due Theseus was at a wyndow set,
Arrayed, right as he were a god in trone.
The peple preesseth thiderward ful soone,

Hym for to seen and doon heigh reverence.
And eek to herkne his heste and his sentence.
An heraud on a scaffold made an "Oo!"
Til al the noyse of peple was ydo,
And whan he saugh the peple of noyse al stille,

Tho shewed he the myghty dukes wille.
"The lord hath of his heigh discrecioun
Considered, that it were destruccioun
To gentil blood, to fighten in the gyse
Of mortal bataille, now in this emprise;

Wherfore, to shapen that they shal nat dye,
He wolde his firste purpos modifye.
No man therfore, up peyne of los of lyf,
No maner shot, ne polax, ne short knyf
Into the lystes sende, ne thider brynge.

Ne short swerd for to stoke, with poynt bitynge,
No man ne drawe, ne bere by his syde;
Ne no man shal unto his felawe ryde
But o cours, with a sharpe ygrounde spere.
Foyne if hym list on foote, hym-self to were;

And he that is at meschief shal be take,
And noght slayn, but be broght unto the stake
That shal ben ordeyned on either syde,
But thider he shal by force, and there abyde.
And if so be the chevetayn be take

On outher syde, or elles sleen his make,
No lenger shal the turneiynge laste.
God spede you, gooth forth, and ley on faste!
With long swerd and with maces fight youre fille;
Gooth now youre wey, this is the lordes wille."

The voys of peple touchede the hevene,
So loude cride they with murie stevene,
"God save swich a lord, that is so good
He wilneth no destruccion of blood."
Up goon the trompes and the melodye,

And to the lystes rit the compaignye,
By ordinance, thurgh-out the citee large
Hanged with clooth of gold, and nat with sarge.
Ful lik a lord this noble duc gan ryde,
Thise two Thebanes upon either syde,

And after rood the queene and Emelye,
And after that another compaignye,
Of oon and oother, after hir degre;
And thus they passen thurgh-out the citee
And to the lystes come they by tyme.

It nas nat of the day yet fully pryme
Whan set was Theseus ful riche and hye,
Ypolita the queene, and Emelye,
And othere ladys in degrees aboute.
Unto the seettes preesseth al the route,

And westward thurgh the gates under Marte,
Arcite, and eek the hondred of his parte,
With baner reed is entred right anon.
And in that selve moment Palamon
Is under Venus estward in the place,

With baner whyt, and hardy chiere and face.
In al the world to seken up and doun
So evene withouten variacioun
Ther nere swiche compaignyes tweye!
For ther was noon so wys, that koude seye

That any hadde of oother avauntage,
Of worthynesse ne of estaat ne age,
So evene were they chosen, for to gesse.
And in two renges faire they hem dresse,
Whan that hir names rad were everichon,

That in hir nombre gyle were ther noon.
Tho were the gates shet and cried was loude,
"Do now youre devoir, yonge knyghtes proude!"
The heraudes lefte hir prikyng up and doun;
Now ryngen trompes loude and clarioun.

Ther is namoore to seyn, but west and est
In goon the speres ful sadly in arrest,
In gooth the sharpe spore into the syde.
Ther seen men who kan juste, and who kan ryde,
Ther shyveren shaftes upon sheeldes thikke;

He feeleth thurgh the herte-spoon the prikke.
Up spryngen speres twenty foot on highte;
Out gooth the swerdes as the silver brighte.
The helmes they tohewen and toshrede,
Out brest the blood, with stierne stremes rede,

With myghty maces the bones they tobreste.
He thurgh the thikkeste of the throng gan threste;
Ther stomblen steedes stronge, and doun gooth al;
He rolleth under foot as dooth a bal,
He foyneth on his feet with his tronchoun,

And he hym hurtleth with his hors adoun.
He thurgh the body is hurt and sithen ytake,
Maugree his heed, and broght unto the stake,
As forward was, right there he moste abyde;
Another lad is on that oother syde.

And som tyme dooth hem Theseus to reste,
Hem to refresshe, and drynken if hem leste.
Ful ofte a day han thise Thebanes two
Togydre ymet, and wroght his felawe wo.
Unhorsed hath ech oother of hem tweye,


Ther nas no tygre in the vlae of Galgopheye
Whan that hir whelp is stole, whan it is lite,
So crueel on the hunte, as is Arcite
For jelous herte upon this Palamoun;
Ne in Belmarye ther nys so fel leoun

That hunted is, or for his hunger wood,
Ne of his praye desireth so the blood,
As Palamoun to sleen his foo Arcite.
The jelous strokes on hir helmes byte,
Out renneth blood on bothe hir sydes rede.

Som tyme an ende ther is of every dede;
For er the sonne unto the reste wente,
The stronge kyng Emetreus gan hen

Title: The Canterbury Tales
Author: Geoffrey Chaucer
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