Geoffrey Chaucer >> The Canterbury Tales (page 19)

That Fortune unto swich a fyn thee broghte!

To Rome agayn repaireth Julius,
With his triumphe lauriat ful hye;
But on a tyme Brutus Cassius
That evere hadde of his hye estaat envye,
Ful prively hath maad conspiracye
Agayns this Julius in subtil wise,
And caste the place in which he sholde dye
With boydekyns, as I shal yow devyse.

This Julius to the Capitolie wente
Upon a day, as he was wont to goon;
And in the Capitolie anon hym hente
This false Brutus and his othere foor,
And stiked hym with boydekyns anoon
With many a wounde; and thus they lete hym lye.
But nevere gronte he at no strook but oon,
Or elles at two, but if his sstorie lye.

So manly was this Julius of herte
And so wel lovede estaatly honestee,
That though hise deedly woundes soore smerte,
His mantel over hise hypes caste he,
For no man sholde seen his privetee.
And as he lay of diyng in a traunce,
And wiste verraily that deed was hee,
Of honestee yet hadde he remembraunce.

Lucan, to thee this storie I recomende,
And to Sweton, and to Valerie also,
That of this storie writen word and ende,
How that to thise grete conqueroures two
Fortune was first freend, and sitthe foo.
No man ne truste upon hire favour longe
But have hir in awayt for evere moo!

Witnesse on alle thise conqueroures stronge.


This riche Cresus whilom kyng of Lyde,
Of whiche Cresus Cirus soore hym dradde,
Yet was he caught amyddes al his pryde,
And to be brent men to the fyr hym ladde.
But swich a reyn doun fro the welkne shadde
That slow the fyr, and made hym to escape;
But to be war no grace yet he hadde,
Til Fortune on the galwes made hym gape.

Whanne he escaped was, he kan nat stente
For to bigynne a newe werre agayn;
He wende wel, for that Fortune hym sente
Swich hap that he escaped thurgh the rayn,
That of hise foos he myghte nat be slayn;
And eek a swevene upon a nyght he mette,
Of which he was so proud and eek so fayn
That in vengeance he al his herte sette.

Upon a tree he was, as that hym thoughte,
Ther Jupiter hym wessh bothe bak and syde,
And Phebus eek a fair towaille hym broughte,
To dryen hym with; and therfore wax his pryde,
And to his doghter that stood hym bisyde,
Which that he knew in heigh science habounde,
He bad hir telle hym what it signyfyde,
And she his dreem bigan right thus expounde.

"The tree," quod she, "the galwes is to meene,
And Juppiter bitokneth snow and reyn,
And Phebus with his towaille so clene,
Tho been the sonne stremes for to seyn.
Thou shalt anhanged be, fader, certeyn;
Reyn shal thee wasshe, and sonne shal thee drye."
Thus warnede hym ful plat and ful pleyn,
His doghter, which that called was Phanye.

Anhanged was Cresus, the proude kyng,
His roial trone myghte hym nat availle.
Tragedie is noon oother maner thyng,
Ne kan in syngyng crye ne biwaille,
But for that Fortune alwey wole assaille
With unwar strook the regnes that been proude;
For whan me trusteth hir, thanne wol she faille,
And covere hir brighte face with a clowde.

Explicit Tragedia.

Heere stynteth the Knyght the Monk of his tale.

Part 14


The Prologue of the Nonnes Preestes Tale.

"Hoo!" quod the Knyght, "good sire, namoore of this,
That ye han seyd is right ynough, ywis,
And muchel moore, for litel hevynesse
Is right ynough to muche folk, I gesse.
I seye for me, it is a greet disese

Where as men han been in greet welthe and ese,
To heeren of hir sodeyn fal, allas!
And the contrarie is joye and greet solas,
As whan a man hath been in povre estaat,
And clymbeth up, and wexeth fortunat,

And there abideth in prosperitee.
Swich thyng is galdsom, as it thynketh me,
And of swich thyng were goodly for to telle."
"Ye," quod our Hoost, "by seinte Poules belle,
Ye seye right sooth! This Monk, he clappeth lowde,

He spak, how Fortune covered with a clowde-
I noot nevere what-and also of a `Tragedie'-
Right now ye herde; and pardee, no remedie
It is for to biwaille ne compleyne
That that is doon; and als it is a peyne,

As ye han seyd, to heere of hevynesse.
Sire Monk, namoore of this, so God yow blesse!
Youre tale anoyeth al this compaignye;
Swich talkyng is nat worth a boterflye,
For ther-inne is ther no desport ne game.

Wherfore sir Monk, or daun Piers by youre name,
I pray yow hertely, telle us somwhat elles,
For sikerly, nere clynkyng of youre belles
That on your bridel hange on every syde,
By hevene kyng, that for us alle dyde,

I sholde er this han fallen doun for sleepe,
Althogh the slough had never been so deepe;
Thanne hadde your tale al be toold in veyn.
For, certeinly, as that thise clerkes seyn,
Where as a man may have noon audience,

Noght helpeth it to tellen his sentence.
And wel I woot the substance is in me,
If any thyng shal wel reported be.
Sir, sey somwhat of huntyng, I yow preye."
"Nay," quod this Monk, "I have no lust to pleye;

Not lat another telle as I have toold."
Thanne spak oure Hoost, with rude speche and boold,
And seyde unto the Nonnes Preest anon,
"Com neer, thou preest, com hyder, thou, sir John,
Telle us swich thyng as may oure hertes glade;

Be blithe, though thou ryde upon a jade.
What thogh thyn hors be bothe foul and lene?
If he wol serve thee, rekke nat a bene!
Looke that thyn herte be murie everemo."
"Yis sir," quod he, "yis, Hoost, so moot I go,

But I be myrie, ywis, I wol be blamed."
And right anon his tale he hath attamed,
And thus he seyde unto us everichon,
This sweete preest, this goodly man sir John.

Part 15


Heere bigynneth the Nonnes Preestes tale of the Cok and
Hen, Chauntecleer and Pertelote.

A povre wydwe, somdel stape in age,
Was whilom dwellyng in a narwe cotage
Biside a greve, stondynge in a dale.
This wydwe, of which I telle yow my tale,
Syn thilke day that she was last a wyf,

In pacience ladde a ful symple lyf,
For litel was hir catel and hir rente.
By housbondrie, of swich as God hir sente,
She foond hirself and eek hire doghtren two.
Thre large sowes hadde she, and namo,

Three keen, and eek a sheep that highte Malle.
Ful sooty was hir bour and eek hire halle,
In whidh she eet ful many a sklendre meel-
Of poynaunt sauce hir neded never a deel.
No deyntee morsel passed thurgh hir throte,

Hir diete was accordant to hir cote.
Repleccioun ne made hir nevere sik,
Attempree diete was al hir phisik,
And exercise, and hertes suffisaunce.
The goute lette hir nothyng for to daunce,

Napoplexie shente nat hir heed.
No wyn ne drank she, neither whit ne reed,
Hir bord was served moost with whit and blak,
Milk and broun breed, in which she foond no lak,
Seynd bacoun, and somtyme an ey or tweye,

For she was as it were a maner deye.
A yeerd she hadde, enclosed al aboute
With stikkes, and a drye dych withoute,
In which she hadde a Cok, heet Chauntecleer,
In al the land of crowyng nas his peer.

His voys was murier than the murle orgon
On messedayes, that in the chirche gon.
Wel sikerer was his crowyng in his logge,
Than is a clokke, or an abbey orlogge.
By nature he crew eche ascencioun

Of the equynoxial in thilke toun;
For whan degrees fiftene weren ascended,
Thanne crew he, that it myghte nat been amended.
His coomb was redder than the fyn coral,
And batailled, as it were a castel wal.

His byle was blak, and as the jeet it shoon,
Lyk asure were hise legges and his toon,
Hise nayles whiter than the lylye flour,
And lyk the burned gold was his colour.
This gentil cok hadde in his governaunce

Sevene hennes, for to doon al his plesaunce,
Whiche were hise sustres and his paramours,
And wonder lyk to hym as of colours;
Of whiche the faireste hewed on hir throte
Was cleped faire damoysele Pertelote.

Curteys she was, discreet, and debonaire
And compaignable, and bar hyrself so faire
Syn thilke day that she was seven nyght oold,
That trewely she hath the herte in hoold
Of Chauntecleer loken in every lith.

He loved hir so, that wel was hym therwith.
But swiche a joye was it to here hem synge
Whan that the brighte sonne gan to sprynge,
In sweete accord, "My lief is faren in londe,"-
For thilke tyme, as I have understonde,

Beestes and briddes koude speke and synge.
And so bifel, that in the dawenynge,
As Chauntecleer, among hise wyves alle,
Sat on his perche, that was in the halle,
And next hym sat this faire Pertelote,

This Chauntecleer gan gronen in his throte
As man that in his dreem is drecched soore.
And whan that Pertelote thus herde hym roore
She was agast, and seyde, "O herte deere,
What eyleth yow, to grone in this manere?

Ye been a verray sleper, fy for shame!"
And he answerde and seyde thus, "Madame,
I pray yow that ye take it nat agrief.
By God, me thoughte I was in swich meschief
Right now, that yet myn herte is soore afright.

Now God," quod he, "my swevene recche aright,
And kepe my body out of foul prisoun.
Me mette how that I romed up and doun
Withinne our yeerd, wheer as I saugh a beest
Was lyk an hound, and wolde han maad areest

Upon my body, and han had me deed.
His colour was bitwixe yelow and reed,
And tipped was his tayl and bothe hise eeris;
With blak, unlyk the remenant of hise heeris;
His snowte smal, with glowynge eyen tweye.

Yet of his look, for feere almoost I deye!
This caused me my gronyng, doutelees."
"Avoy!" quod she, "Fly on yow hertelees!
Allas," quod she, "for by that God above
Now han ye lost myn herte and al my love!

I kan nat love a coward, by my feith,
For certes, what so any womman seith,
We alle desiren, if it myght bee,
To han housbondes hardy, wise, and free,
And secree, and no nygard, ne no fool,

Ne hym that is agast of every tool,
Ne noon avauntour; by that God above,
How dorste ye seyn for shame unto youre love
That any thyng myghte make yow aferd?
Have ye no mannes herte, and han a berd?

Allas, and konne ye been agast of swevenys?
No thyng, God woot, but vanitee in swevene is!
Swevenes engendren of replecciouns,
And ofte of fume and of complecciouns,
Whan humours been to habundant in a wight.

Certes, this dreem which ye han met tonyght
Cometh of greet superfluytee
Of youre rede colera, pardee,
Which causeth folk to dreden in hir dremes
Of arwes, and of fyre with rede lemes,

Of grete beestes, that they wol hem byte,
Of contekes, and of whelpes grete and lyte;
Right as the humour of malencolie
Causeth ful many a man in sleep to crie
For feere of blake beres, or boles blake,

Or elles blake develes wole hem take.
Of othere humours koude I telle also
That werken many a man in sleep ful wo,
But I wol passe as lightly as I kan.
Lo Catoun, which that was so wys a man,

Seyde he nat thus, `ne do no fors of dremes`?
Now sire," quod she, "whan ye flee fro the bemes,
For goddes love as taak som laxatyf!
Up peril of my soule, and of my lyf,
I conseille yow the beste, I wol nat lye,

That bothe of colere and of malencolye
Ye purge yow; and for ye shal nat tarie,
Though in this toun is noon apothecarie,
I shal myself to herbes techen yow,
That shul been for youre hele and for youre prow.

And in oure yeerd tho herbes shal I fynde,
The whiche han of hir propretee by kynde
To purge yow bynethe and eek above.
Foryet nat this, for Goddes owene love!
Ye been ful coleryk of compleccioun;

Ware the sonne in his ascencioun
Ne fynde yow nat repleet of humours hoote.
And if it do, I dar wel leye a grote
That ye shul have a fevere terciane,
Or an agu that may be youre bane.

A day or two ye shul have digestyves
Of wormes, er ye take youre laxatyves
Of lawriol, centaure, and fumetere,
Or elles of ellebor that groweth there,
Of katapuce, or of gaitrys beryis,

Of herbe yve, growyng in oure yeerd, ther mery is!
Pekke hem up right as they growe, and ete hem yn!
Be myrie, housbonde, for youre fader kyn,
Dredeth no dreem, I kan sey yow namoore!"
"Madame," quod he, "graunt mercy of youre loore,

But nathelees, as touchyng Daun Catoun,
That hath of wysdom swich a greet renoun,
Though that he bad no dremes for to drede,
By God, men may in olde bookes rede
Of many a man moore of auctorite

Than evere Caton was, so moot I thee,
That al the revers seyn of this sentence,
And han wel founden by experience
That dremes been significaciouns
As wel of joye as of tribulaciouns

That folk enduren in this lif present.
Ther nedeth make of this noon argument,
The verray preeve sheweth it in dede.
Oon of the gretteste auctours that men rede
Seith thus, that whilom two felawes wente

On pilgrimage in a ful good entente;
And happed so, they coomen in a toun
Wher as ther was swich congregacioun
Of peple, and eek so streit of herbergage,
That they ne founde as muche as o cotage

In which they bothe myghte logged bee;
Wherfore they mosten of necessitee
As for that nyght departen compaignye,
And ech of hem gooth to his hostelrye,
And took his loggyng as it wolde falle.

That oon of hem was logged in a stalle,
Fer in a yeerd, with oxen of the plough;
That oother man was logged wel ynough,
As was his aventure or his fortune,
That us governeth alle as in commune.

And so bife

Title: The Canterbury Tales
Author: Geoffrey Chaucer
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