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Geoffrey Chaucer >> The Canterbury Tales (page 9)


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This Palamon, as he faught with Arcite,
And made his swerd depe in his flessh to byte.

And by the force of twenty is he take
Unyolden, and ydrawe unto the stake.
And in the rescous of this Palamoun
The stronge kyng Lygurge is born adoun,
And kyng Emetreus, for al his strengthe,

Is born out of his sadel a swerdes lengthe,
So hitte him Palamoun er he were take;
But al for noght, he was broght to the stake.
His hardy herte myghte hym helpe naught,
He moste abyde, whan that he was caught,

By force, and eek by composicioun.
Who sorweth now but woful Palamoun,
That moot namoore goon agayn to fighte?
And whan that Theseus hadde seyn this sighte
Unto the folk that foghten thus echon

He cryde, "Hoo! namoore, for it is doon.
I wol be trewe juge, and no partie;
Arcite of Thebes shal have Emelie,
That by his fortune hath hir faire ywonne!"
Anon ther is a noyse of peple bigonne

For joye of this so loude and heighe withalle
It semed that the lystes sholde falle.
What kan now faire Venus doon above?
What seith she now, what dooth this queene of Love,
But wepeth so, for wantynge of hir wille,

Til that hir teeres in the lystes fille.
She seyde, "I am ashamed, doutelees."
Saturnus seyde, "Doghter, hoold thy pees,
Mars hath his wille, his knyght hath al his boone,
And, by myn heed, thow shalt been esed soone."

The trompes with the loude mynstralcie,
The heraudes that ful loude yolle and crie,
Been in hir wele for joye of Daun Arcite.
But herkneth me, and stynteth now a lite,
Which a myracle ther bifel anon.

This fierse Arcite hath of his helm ydon,
And on a courser for to shewe his face
He priketh endelong the large place,
Lokynge upward upon this Emelye,
And she agayn hym caste a freendlich eye,

(For wommen, as to speken in commune,
They folwen al the favour of Fortune)
And she was al his chiere, as in his herte.
Out of the ground a furie infernal sterte,
From Pluto sent, at requeste of Saturne,

For which his hors for fere gan to turne,
And leep aside and foundred as he leep.
And er that Arcite may taken keep,
He pighte hym on the pomel of his heed,
That in the place he lay as he were deed,

His brest tobrosten with his sadel-bowe.
As blak he lay as any cole or crowe,
So was the blood yronnen in his face.
Anon he was yborn out of the place,
With herte soor, to Theseus paleys.

Tho was he korven out of his harneys,
And in a bed ybrought ful faire and blyve,
For he was yet in memorie and alyve,
And alwey criynge after Emelye.
Duc Theseus, with al hes compaignye,

Is comen hoom to Atthenes his citee,
With alle blisse and greet solempnitee;
Al be it that this aventure was falle,
He nolde noght disconforten hem alle.
Men seyde eek that Arcite shal nat dye,

He shal been heeled of his maladye.
And of another thyng they weren as fayn,
That of hem alle was ther noon yslayn,
Al were they soore yhurt, and namely oon,
That with a spere was thirled his brest-boon.

To othere woundes, and to broken armes,
Somme hadden salves, and somme hadden charmes,
Fermacies of herbes and eek save
They dronken, for they wolde hir lymes have.
For which this noble duc as he wel kan,

Conforteth and honoureth every man,
And made revel al the longe nyght
Unto the straunge lordes, as was right.
Ne ther was holden no disconfitynge
But as a justes or a tourneiynge,

For soothly ther was no disconfiture-
For fallyng nys nat but an aventure-
Ne to be lad by force unto the stake
Unyolden, and with twenty knyghtes take,
O persone allone, withouten mo,

And haryed forth by arme, foot, and too,
And eke his steede dryven forth with staves,
With footmen, bothe yemen and eek knaves,
It nas aretted hym no vileynye,
Ther may no man clepen it cowardye.

For which anon duc Theseus leet crye,
To stynten alle rancour and envye,
The gree, as wel of o syde as of oother,
And eyther syde ylik as ootheres brother,
And yaf hem yiftes after hir degree,

And fully heeld a feeste dayes three,
And convoyed the kynges worthily
Out of his toun a journee, largely;
And hoom wente every man, the righte way,
Ther was namoore but `fare-wel, have good day.'

Of this bataille I wol namoore endite,
But speke of Palamoun and of Arcite.
Swelleth the brest of Arcite, and the soore
Encreesseth at his herte moore and moore.
The clothered blood for any lechecraft

Corrupteth, and is in his bouk ylaft,
That neither veyne-blood, ne ventusynge,
Ne drynke of herbes may ben his helpynge.
The vertu expulsif, or animal,
Fro thilke vertu cleped natural

Ne may the venym voyden, ne expelle.
The pipes of his longes gonne to swelle,
And every lacerte in his brest adoun
Is shent with venym and corrupcioun.
Hym gayneth neither for to gete his lif

Vomyt upward, ne dounward laxatif;
Al is tobrosten thilke regioun,
Nature hath now no dominacioun.
And certeinly, ther Nature wol nat wirche,
Fare-wel phisik, go ber the man to chirche!

This al and som, that Arcita moot dye;
For which he sendeth after Emelye
And Palamon, that was his cosyn deere.
Thanne seyde he thus, as ye shal after heere:
"Naught may the woful spirit in myn herte

Declare o point of alle my sorwes smerte
To yow, my lady, that I love moost.
But I biquethe the servyce of my goost
To yow aboven every creature.
Syn that my lyf may no lenger dure,

Allas, the wo! allas, the peynes stronge
That I for yow have suffred, and so longe!
Allas, the deeth! allas, myn Emelye!
Allas, departynge of our compaignye!
Allas, myn hertes queene! allas, my wyf!

Myn hertes lady, endere of my lyf!
What is this world? what asketh men to have?
Now with his love, now in his colde grave,
Allone, withouten any compaignye.
Fare-wel, my swete foo, myn Emelye,

And softe taak me in youre armes tweye,
For love of God, and herkneth what I seye.
"I have heer with my cosyn Palamon
Had strif and rancour many a day agon,
For love of yow, and for my jalousye.

And Juppiter so wys my soule gye
To speken of a servaunt proprely,
With alle circumstances trewely,
That is to seyn, trouthe, honour, and knyghthede,
Wysdom, humblesse, estaat, and heigh kynrede,

Fredom, and al that longeth to that art,
So Juppiter have of my soule part
As in this world right now ne knowe I non
So worthy to ben loved, as Palamon
That serveth yow, and wol doon al his lyf;

And if that evere ye shul ben a wyf,
Foryet nat Palamon, the gentil man."
And with that word his speche faille gan,
And from his herte up to his brest was come
The coold of deeth, that hadde hym overcome.

And yet moreover in hise armes two
The vital strengthe is lost and al ago.
Oonly the intellect, withouten moore,
That dwelled in his herte syk and soore
Gan faillen, when the herte felte deeth.

Dusked hise eyen two, and failled breeth,
But on his lady yet caste he his eye.
His laste word was "mercy, Emelye!"
His spirit chaunged hous, and wente ther
As I cam nevere, I kan nat tellen wher,

Therfore I stynte; I nam no divinistre,
Of soules fynde I nat in this registre,
Ne me ne list thilke opinions to telle
Of hem, though that they writen wher they dwelle.
Arcite is coold, ther Mars his soule gye:

Now wol I speken forthe of Emelye.
Shrighte Emelye, and howleth Palamon,
And Theseus his suster took anon
Swownynge, and baar hir fro the corps away.
What helpeth it to tarien forth the day

To tellen how she weep bothe eve and morwe?
For in swich cas wommen have swich sorwe
Whan that hir housbond is from hem ago,
That for the moore part they sorwen so,
Or ellis fallen in swich maladye,

That at the laste certeinly they dye.
Infinite been the sorwes and the teeres
Of olde folk, and eek of tendre yeeres
In al the toun, for deeth of this Theban.
For hym ther wepeth bothe child and man;

So greet a wepyng was ther noon, certayn,
Whan Ector was ybroght al fressh yslayn
To Troye, allas, the pitee that was ther!
Cracchynge of chekes, rentynge eek of heer;
"Why soldestow be deed," thise wommen crye,

"And haddest gold ynough, and Emelye?"
No man myghte gladen Theseus,
Savynge his olde fader, Egeus,
That knew this worldes transmutacioun,
As he hadde seyn it chaungen up and doun,

Joye after wo, and wo after gladnesse,
And shewed hem ensamples and liknesse.
"Right as ther dyed nevere man," quod he,
"That he ne lyvede in erthe in som degree,
Right so ther lyvede never man," he seyde,

"In al this world that somtyme he ne deyde.
This world nys but a thurghfare ful of wo,
And we been pilgrymes passynge to and fro.
Deeth is an ende of every worldes soore."
And over al this yet seyde he muchel moore,

To this effect ful wisely to enhorte
The peple, that they sholde hem reconforte.
Duc Theseus, with al his bisy cure,
Caste now, wher that the sepulture
Of goode Arcite may best ymaked be,

And eek moost honurable in his degree.
And at the laste he took conclusioun
That ther as first Arcite and Palamoun
Hadden for love the bataille hem bitwene,
That in that selve grove swoote and grene

Ther as he hadde hise amorouse desires,
His compleynte, and for love hise hoote fires
He wolde make a fyr, in which the office
Funeral he myghte al accomplice;
And leet comande anon to hakke and hewe

The okes olde, and leye hem on a rewe
In colpons, wel arrayed for to brenne.
Hise officers with swifte feet they renne
And ryden anon at his comandement;
And after this Theseus hath ysent

After a beere, and it al over-spradde
With clooth of gold, the richeste that he hadde.
And of the same suyte he cladde Arcite,
Upon his hondes hadde he gloves white,
EEk on his heed a coroune of laurer grene,

And in his hond a swerd ful bright and kene.
He leyde hym bare the visage on the beere,
Ther-with he weep that pitee was to heere.
And for the peple sholde seen hym alle,
Whan it was day, he broghte hym to the halle,

That roreth of the criyng and the soun.
Tho cam this woful Theban, Palamoun,
With flotery berd and rugged asshy heeres,
In clothes blake, ydropped al with teeres,
And passynge othere of wepynge Emelye,

The rewefulleste of al the compaignye.
In as muche as the servyce sholde be
The moore noble and riche in his degree,
Duc Theseus leet forth thre steedes brynge
That trapped were in steel al gliterynge,

And covered with the armes of daun Arcite.
Upon thise steedes that weren grete and white
Ther sitten folk, of whiche oon baar his sheeld,
Another his spere up in his hondes heeld,
The thridde baar with hym his bowe Turkeys,

Of brend gold was the caas, and eek the harneys;
And riden forth a paas, with sorweful cheere,
Toward the grove, as ye shul after heere.
The nobleste of the Grekes that ther were
Upon hir shuldres caryeden the beere,

With slakke paas, and eyen rede and wete,
Thurghout the citee by the maister-strete,
That sprad was al with blak, and wonder hye
Right of the same is the strete ywrye.
Upon the right hond wente olde Egeus,

And on that oother syde duc Theseus,
With vessel in hir hand of gold ful fyn,
Al ful of hony, milk, and blood, and wyn.
Eek Palamon, with ful greet compaignye,
And after that cam woful Emelye,

With fyr in honde, as was that tyme the gyse,
To do the office of funeral servyse.
Heigh labour, and ful greet apparaillynge,
Was at the service and the fyr makynge,
That with his grene top the heven raughte,

And twenty fadme of brede the armes straughte;
This is to seyn, the bowes weren so brode.
Of stree first ther was leyd ful many a lode,
But how the fyr was maked upon highte,
Ne eek the names that the trees highte,

As, ook, firre, birch, aspe, alder, holm, popeler,
Wylugh, elm, plane, assh, box, chasteyn, lynde, laurer,
Mapul, thorn, bech, hasel, ew, whippeltre,
How they weren fild shal nat be toold for me,
Ne how the goddes ronnen up and doun

Disherited of hir habitacioun,
In whiche they woneden in reste and pees,
Nymphes, Fawnes, and Amadrides;
Ne how the beestes and the briddes alle
Fledden for fere, whan the wode was falle;

Ne how the ground agast was of the light,
That was nat wont to seen the sonne bright;
Ne how the fyr was couched first with stree,
And thanne with drye stokkes clovena thre,
And thanne with grene wode and spicerye,

And thanne with clooth of gold and with perrye,
And gerlandes hangynge with ful many a flour,
The mirre, thencens, with al so greet odour;
Ne how Arcite lay among al this,
Ne what richesse aboute his body is,

Ne how that Emelye, as was the gyse,
Putte in the fyr of funeral servyse;
Ne how she swowned whan men made the fyr,
Ne what she spak, ne what was hir desir,
Ne what jeweles men in the fyr caste,

Whan that the fyr was greet and brente faste;
Ne how somme caste hir sheeld, and somme hir spere,
And of hire vestimentz whiche that they were,
And coppes full of wyn, and milk, and blood,
Into the fyr, that brente as it were wood,

Ne how the Grekes, with an huge route,
Thryes riden al the place aboute,
Upon the left hand with a loud shoutynge,
And thries with hir speres claterynge,
And thries how the ladyes gonne crye,

And how that lad was homward Emelye;
Ne how Arcite is brent to asshen colde,
Ne how that lychewake was yholde
Al thilke nyght, ne how the Grekes pleye
The wakepleyes ne kepe I nat to seye,

Title: The Canterbury Tales
Author: Geoffrey Chaucer
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