Geoffrey Chaucer >> The Canterbury Tales (page 34)

proveth wel, that oother love or drede
Moot been enchesoun of your cruel dede,

Syn that I see noon oother wight yow chace.
For love of God as dooth yourselven grace.
Or what may been your helpe? for west nor est
Ne saugh I nevere er now no bryd ne beest
That ferde with hymself so pitously.

Ye sle me with your sorwe, verraily,
I have of yow so greet compassioun.
For Goddes love com fro the tree adoun,
And as I am a kynges doghter trewe,
If that I verraily the cause knewe

Of your disese, if it lay in my myght
I wolde amenden it er that it were nyght,
As wisly helpe me, grete god of kynde!
And herbes shal I right ynowe yfynde,
To heele with youre hurtes hastily."

Tho shrighte this faucoun moore yet pitously
Than ever she dide, and fil to grounde anon
And lith aswowne, deed, and lyk a stoon,
Til Canacee hath in hir lappe hir take
Unto the tyme she gan of swough awake.

And after that she of hir swough gan breyde,
Right ibn hir hsukes ledene thus she seyde:
"That pitee renneth soone in gentil herte,
Fellynge his similitude in peynes smerte,
Is preved al day, as men may it see,

As wel by werk as by auctoritee.
For gentil herte kitheth gentillesse.
I se wel, that ye han of my distresse
Compassioun, my faire Canacee,
Of verray wommanly benignytee

That nature in youre principles hath set.
But for noon hope for to fare the bet,
But for to obeye unto youre herte free,
And for to maken othere be war by me,
As by the whelp chasted is the leoun,

Right for that cause and that condlusioun
Whil that I have a leyser and a space,
Myn harm I wol confessen, er I pace."
And evere whil that oon hir sorwe tolde,
That oother weep, as she to water wolde,

Til that the faucoun bad hire to be stille;
And with a syk right thus she seyde hir wille.
"Ther I was bred, allas, that harde day!
And fostred in a roche of marbul gray
So tendrely, that no thyng eyled me;

I nyste nat what was adversitee,
Til I koude flee ful hye under the sky.
Tho dwelte a tercelet me faste by
That semed welle of alle gentillesse,
Al were he ful of tresoun and falsnesse;

It was so wrapped under humble cheere,
And under hewe of trouthe in swich manere,
Under plesance, and under bisy peyne,
That I ne koude han wend he koude feyne,
So depe in greyn he dyed his colours.

Right as a serpent hit hym under floures
Til he may seen his tyme for to byte,
Right so this god of love, this ypocryte,
Dooth so hise cerymonyes and obeisaunces,
And kepeth in semblant alle hise observaunces

That sowneth into gentillesse of love.
As in a toumbe is al the faire above,
And under is the corps swich as ye woot,
Swich was this ypocrite, bothe coold and hoot;
And in this wise he served his entente,

That-save the feend-noon wiste what he mente;
Til he so longe hadde wopen and compleyned,
And many a yeer his service to me feyned,
Til that myn herte, to pitous and to nyce,
Al innocent of his corouned malice,

For-fered of his deeth, as thoughte me,
Upon hise othes and his seuretee,
Graunted hym love up this condicioun
That everemoore myn honour and renoun
Were saved, bothe privee and apert.

This is to seyn, that after his desert
I yaf hym al myn herte and al my thoght-
God woot and he, that ootherwise noght!-
And took his herte in chaunge for myn for ay.
But sooth is seyd, goon sithen many a day,

`A trewe wight and a theef thenken nat oon.'
And whan he saugh the thyng so fer ygoon,
That I hadde graunted hym fully my love,
In swich a gyse as I have seyd above,
And yeven hym my trewe herte, as free

As he swoor he his herte yaf to me,
Anon this tigre ful of doublenesse
Fil on hise knees, with so devout humblesse,
With so heigh reverence, and as by his cheere
So lyk a gentil lovere of manere,

So ravysshed, as it semed, for the joye,
That nevere Jason, ne Parys of Troye,
Jason? certes, ne noon oother man
Syn Lameth was, that alderfirst bigan
To loven two, as writen folk biforn,

Ne nevere syn the firste man was born,
Ne koude man, by twenty thousand part,
Countrefete the sophymes fo his art;
Ne were worhty unbokelen his galoche,
Ther doublenesse or feynyng sholde approche,

Ne so koude thonke a wight as he dide me.
His manere was an hevene for to see
Til any womman, were she never so wys;
So peynted he and kembde at point-devys
As wel hise wordes as his contenaunce

And I so loved hym for his oveisaunce
And for the trouthe I demed in his herte,
That if so were that any thyng hym smerte,
Al were it nevere so lite, and I it wiste,
Me thoughte I felte deeth myn herte twiste.

And shortly so ferforth this thyng is went,
That my wyl was his willes instrument;
This is to seyn, my wyl obeyed his wyl
In alle thyng as fer as resoun fil,
Kepynge the boundes of my worship evere.

Ne nevere hadde I thyng so lief, ne levere,
As hym, God woot! ne nevere shal namo.
This lasteth lenger than a yeer or two,
That I supposed of hym noght but good.
But finally, thus atte laste it stood,

That Fortune wolde that he moste twynne
Out of that place, which that I was inne.
Wher me was wo that is no questioun;
I kan nat make of it discripcioun.
For o thyng dare I tellen boldely,

I knowe what is the peyne of deeth therby.
Swich harme I felte, for he ne myghte bileve;
So on a day of me he took his leve
So sosrwefully eek, that I wende verraily,
That he had felt as muche harm as I,

Whan that I herde hym speke, and saugh his hewe.
But nathelees, I thoughte he was so trewe,
And eek that he repaire sholde ageyn
Withinne a litel while, sooth to seyn,
And resoun wolde eek that he moste go

For his honour, as ofte it happeth so,
That I made vertu of necessitee,
And took it wel, syn that it moste be.
As I best myghte, I hidde fro hym my sorwe,
And took hym by the hond, seint John to borwe,

And seyde hym thus, `Lo I am youres al.
Beth swich as I to yow have been, and shal.'
What he answerde, it nedeth noght reherce,
Who kan sey bet than he? who kan do werse?
Whan he hath al wel seyd, thanne hath he doon;

`Therfore bihoveth hire a ful long spoon
That shal ete with a feend,' thus herde I seye.
So atte laste he moste forth his weye,
And forth he fleeth, til he cam ther hym leste.
Whan it cam hym to purpos for to reste,

I trowe he hadde thilke text in mynde
That `alle thyng repeirynge to his kynde
Gladeth hymself;' thus seyn men, as I gesse.
Men loven of propre kynde newefangelnesse,
As briddes doon, that men in cages fede,

For though thou nyght and day take of hem hede,
And strawe hir cage faire and softe as silk,
And yeve hem sugre, hony, breed, and milk,
Yet right anon as that his dore is uppe,
He with his feet wol spurne adoun his cuppe,

And to the wode he wole and wormes ete;
So newefangel been they of hir mete,
And loven novelrie of propre kynde.
No gentillesse of blood ne may hem bynde.
So ferde this tercelet, allas, the day!

Though he were gentil born, and fressh, and gay,
And goodlich for to seen, humble and free,
He saugh upon a tyme a kyte flee,
And sodeynly he loved this kyte so
That al his love is clene fro me ago,

And hath his trouthe falsed in this wyse.
Thus hath the kyte my love in hire servyse,
And I am lorn withouten remedie."
And with that word this faucoun gan to crie,
And swowned eft in Canacees barm.

Greet was the sorwe for the haukes harm
That Canacee and alle hir wommen made.
They nyste hou they myghte the faucoun glade;
But Canacee hom bereth hir in hir lappe,
And softely in plastres gan hir wrappe,

Ther as she with hir beek hadde hurt hirselve.
Now kan nat Canacee but herbes delve
Out of the ground, and make saves newe
Of herbes preciouse and fyne of hewe,
To heelen with this hauk; fro day to nyght

She dooth hir bisynesse and al hir myght.
And by hir beddes heed she made a mewe,
And covered it with veluettes blewe,
In signe of trouthe that is in wommen sene.
And al withoute, the mewe is peynted grene,

In which were ypeynted alle thise false fowles,
As beth thise tidyves, tercelettes, and owles,
Right for despit were peynted hem bisyde,
And pyes on hem for to crie and chyde.
Thus lete I Canacee hir hauk kepyng;

I wol namoore as now speke of hir ryng,
Til it come eft to purpos for to seyn
How that this faucoun gat hire love ageyn
Repentant, as the storie telleth us,
By mediacioun of Cambalus,

The kynges sone, of which that I yow tolde.
But hennesforth I wol my proces holde
To speken of aventures and of batailles,
That nevere yet was herd so grete mervailles.
First wol I telle yow of Cambynskan,

That in his tyme many a citee wan;
And after wol I speke of Algarsif,
How that he wan Theodora to his wif,
For whom ful ofte in greet peril he was,
Ne hadde he be holpen by the steede of bras;

And after wol I speke of Cambalo
That faught in lystes with the bretheren two
For Canacee, er that he myghte hir wynne.
And ther I lefte, I wol ayeyn bigynne.

Explicit secunda pars.

Incipit pars tercia.

Appollo whirleth up his chaar so hye
Til that the god Mercurius hous, the slye-

Part 26


Heere folwen the wordes of the Frankelyn to the Squier,
and the wordes of the hoost to the Frankelyn.

"In feith, Squier, thow hast thee wel yquit,
And gentilly I preise wel thy wit,"
Quod the Frankeleyn, "considerynge thy yowthe,
So feelyngly thou spekest, sire, I allow the;
As to my doom, ther is noon that is heere

Of eloquence that shal be thy peere,
If that thou lyve-God yeve thee good chaunce,
And in vertu sende thee continuance!
For of thy speche I hace greet deyntee;
I have a sone, and, by the Trinitee,

I hadde levere than twenty pound worth lond,
Though it right now were fallen in myn hond,
He were a man of swich discrecioun
As that ye been; fy on possessioun
But if a man be vertuous withal!

I have my sone snybbed, and yet shal,
For he to vertu listneth nat entende,
But for to pleye at dees, and to despende
And lese al that he hath, is his usage.
And he hath levere talken with a page

Than to comune with any gentil wight
There he myghte lerne gentillesse aright."
"Straw for youre gentillesse," quod our Hoost,
"What, Frankeleyn, pardee! sire, wel thou woost
That ech of yow moot tellen atte leste

A tale or two, or breken his biheste."
"That knowe I wel, sire," quod the Frankeleyn,
"I prey yow, haveth me nat in desdeyn
Though to this man I speke a word or two."
"Telle on thy tale, withouten wordes mo."

"Gladly, sire Hoost," quod he, "I wole obeye
Unto your wyl; now herkneth what I seye.
I wol yow nat contrarien in no wyse
As fer as that my wittes wol suffyse;
I prey to God that it may plesen yow,
Thanne woot I wel that it is good ynow."


The prologe of the Frankeleyns tale.

Thise olde gentil Britouns in hir dayes
Of diverse aventures maden layes,
Rymeyed in hir firste Briton tonge;
Whiche layes with hir instrumentz they songe,
Or elles redden hem, for hir plesaunce.

And oon of hem have I in remembraunce,
Which I shal seyn, with good-wyl, as I kan.
But sires, by cause I am a burel man,
At my bigynnyng first I yow biseche,
Have me excused of my rude speche.

I lerned nevere rethorik, certeyn;
Thyng that I speke, it moot be bare and pleyn.
I sleep nevere on the Mount of Parnaso,
Ne lerned Marcus Tullius Scithero.
Colours ne knowe I none, withouten drede,

But swiche colours as growen in the mede,
Or elles swiche, as men dye or peynte.
Colours of rethoryk been me to queynte,
My spirit feeleth noght of swich mateere;
But if yow list, my tale shul ye heere.

Heere bigynneth the Frankeleyns tale.

In Armorik, that called is Britayne,
Ther was a knyght that loved and dide his payne
To serve a lady in his beste wise;
And many a labour, many a greet emprise,
He for his lady wroghte, er she were wonne.

For she was oon the faireste under sonne,
And eek therto comen of so heigh kynrede
That wel unnethes dorste this knyght for drede
Telle hir his wo, his peyne, and his distresse.
But atte laste, she for his worthynesse,

And namely for his meke obeysaunce,
Hath swiche a pitee caught of his penaunce,
That pryvely she fil of his accord
To take hym for hir housbonde and hir lord-
Of swich lordshipe as men han over hir wyves-

And for to lede the moore in blisse hir lyves,
Of his free wyl he swoor hir as a knyght,
That nevere in al his lyf he, day ne nyght,
Ne sholde upon hym take no maistrie
Agayn hir wyl, ne kithe hir jalousie,

But hir obeye and folwe hir wyl in al
As any lovere to his lady shal;
Save that the name of soveraynetee,
That wolde he have, for shame of his degree.
She thanked hym, and with ful greet humblesse

She seyde, "Sire, sith of youre gentillesse
Ye profre me to have so large a reyne,
Ne wolde nevere God bitwixe us tweyne,
As in my gilt, were outher werre or stryf.
Sir, I wol be youre humble trewe wyf,

Have heer my trouthe til that myn herte breste."
Thus been they bothe in quiete and in reste.
For o thyng, sires, saufly dar I seye,
That freendes everych oother moot obeye,
If they wol longe holden compaignye.

Love wol nat been constreyned by maistrye;
Whan maistrie comth, the God of Love a

Title: The Canterbury Tales
Author: Geoffrey Chaucer
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