Geoffrey Chaucer >> The Canterbury Tales (page 36)

And longe tyme he lay forth in a traunce.
His brother, which that knew of his penaunce,
Up caughte hym, and to bedde he hath hym broght.

Dispeyred in this torment and this thoght
Lete I this woful creature lye;
Chese he for me wheither he wol lyve or dye.
Arveragus with heele and greet honour,
As he that was of chivalrie the flour,

Is comen hoom, and othere worthy men.
O blisful artow now, thou Dorigen!
That hast thy lusty housbonde in thyne armes,
The fresshe knyght, the worthy man or armes,
That loveth thee, as his owene hertes lyf.

No thyng list hym to been ymaginatyf
If any wight hadde spoke, whil he was oute,
To hire of love; he hadde of it no doute,
He noght entendeth to no swich mateere,
But daunceth, justeth, maketh hir good cheere,

And thus in joye and blisse I lete hem dwelle,
And of the sike Aurelius I wol telle.
In langour and in torment furyes
Two yeer and moore lay wrecche Aurelyus,
Eer any foot he myghte on erthe gon;

Ne confort in this tyme hadde he noon,
Save of his brother, which that was a clerk.
He knew of al this wo and al this werk;
For to noon oother creature, certeyn,
Of this matere he dorste no word seyn.

Under his brest he baar it moore secree
Than evere dide Pamphilus for Galathee.
His brest was hool withoute for to sene,
But in his herte ay was the arwe kene.
And wel ye knowe that of a sursanure

In surgerye is perilous the cure,
But men myghte touche the arwe, or come therby.
His brother weep and wayled pryvely,
Til atte laste hym fil in remembraunce
That whiles he was at Orliens in Fraunce,

As yonge clerkes, that been lykerous
To reden artes that been curious,
Seken in every halke and every herne
Particular sciences for to lerne,
He hym remembred, that upon a day

At Orliens in studie a book he say
Of magyk natureel, which his felawe,
That was that tyme a bacheler of lawe-
Al were he ther to lerne another craft-
Hadde prively upon his desk ylaft;

Which book spak muchel of the operaciouns,
Touchynge the eighte and twenty mansiouns
That longen to the moone, and swich folye
As in oure dayes is nat worth a flye.
For hooly chirches feith in oure bileve

Ne suffreth noon illusioun us to greve.
And whan this book was in his remembraunce,
Anon for joye his herte gan to daunce,
And to hymself he seyde pryvely,
"My brother shal be warisshed hastily;

For I am siker that ther be sciences
By whiche men make diverse apparences
Swiche as thise subtile tregetoures pleye;
For ofte at feestes have I wel herd seye
That tregetours withinne an halle large

Have maad come in a water and a barge,
And in the halle rowen up and doun.
Somtyme hath semed come a grym leoun;
And somtyme floures sprynge as in a mede,
Somtyme a vyne, and grapes white and rede,

Somtyme a castel al of lym and stoon;
And whan hem lyked, voyded it anoon,
Thus semed it to every mannes sighte.
Now thanne conclude I thus, that if I myghte

At Orliens som oold felawe yfynde

That hadde this moones mansions in mynde,
Or oother magyk natureel above,
He sholde wel make my brother han his love;
For with an apparence a clerk may make
To mannes sighte, that alle the rokkes blake

Of Britaigne weren yvoyded everichon,
But looketh now for no necligence or slouthe
Ye tarie us heere, no lenger than to-morwe."
"Nay," quod this clerk, "have heer my feith to borwe."
To bedde is goon Aurelius whan hym leste,

And wel ny al that nyght he hadde his reste;
What for his labour and his hope of blisse,
His woful hrete of penaunce hadde a lisse.
Upon the morwe, whan that it was day,
To Britaigne tooke they the righte way,

Aurelie and this magicien bisyde,
And been descended ther they wolde abyde.
And this was, as thise bookes me remembre,
The colde frosty sesoun of Decembre.
Phebus wax old, and hewed lyk latoun,

That in this hoote declynacioun
Shoon as the burned gold, and stremes brighte;
But now in Capricorn adoun he lighte,
Where as he shoon ful pale, I dar wel seyn.
The bittre frostes, with the sleet and reyn,

Destroyed hath the grene in every yerd;
Janus sit by the fyr, with double berd,
And drynketh of his bugle horn the wyn.
Biforn hym stant brawen of the tusked swyn,

And `Nowel' crieth every lusty man.
Aurelius, in al that evere he kan,
Dooth to his master chiere and reverence,
And preyeth hym to doon his diligence
To bryngen hym out of his peynes smerte,

Or with a swerd that he wolde slitte his herte.
This subtil clerk swich routhe had of this man,
That nyght and day he spedde hym that he kan
To wayten a tyme of his conclusioun,
This is to seye, to maken illusioun

By swich an apparence or jogelrye-
I ne kan no termes of astrologye-
That she and every wight sholde wene and seye
That of Britaigne the rokkes were aweye,
Or ellis they were sonken under grounde.

So atte laste he hath his tyme yfounde
To maken hise japes and his wrecchednesse
Of swich a supersticious cursednesse.
Hise tables Tolletanes forth he brought,
Ful wel corrected, ne ther lakked nought,

Neither his collect ne hise expans yeeris,
Ne hise rootes, ne hise othere geeris,
As been his centris and hise argumentz,
And hise proporcioneles convenientz
For hise equacions in every thyng.

And by his eighte speere in his wirkyng
He knew ful wel how fer Alnath was shove
Fro the heed of thilke fixe Aries above
That in the ninthe speere considered is.
Ful subtilly he kalkuled al this.

Whan he hadde founde his firste mansioun,
He knew the remenaunt by proporcioun,
And knew the arisyng of his moone weel,
And in whos face and terme, and everydeel;
And knew ful weel the moones mansioun

Acordaunt to his operacioun,
And knew also hise othere observaunces
For swiche illusiouns and swiche meschaunces
As hethen folk useden in thilke dayes;-
For which no lenger maked he delayes,

But thurgh his magik, for a wyke or tweye,
It semed that alle the rokkes were aweye.
Aurelius, which that yet despeired is,
Wher he shal han his love, or fare amys,
Awaiteth nyght and day on this myracle.

And whan he knew that ther was noon obstacle,
That voyded were thise rokkes everychon,
Doun to hise maistres feet he fil anon,
And seyde, "I woful wrecche, Aurelius,
Thanke yow, lord, and lady myn, Venus,

That me han holpen fro my cares colde."
And to the temple his wey forth hath he holde
Where as he knew he sholde his lady see,
And whan he saugh his tyme, anon right hee
With dredful herte and with ful humble cheere

Salewed hath his sovereyn lady deere.
"My righte lady," quod this woful man,
"Whom I moost drede and love as I best kan,
And lothest were of al this world displese,
Nere it that I for yow have swich disese

That I moste dyen heere at youre foot anon,
Noght wolde I telle how me is wo bigon;
But, certes, outher moste I dye or pleyne,
Ye sle me giltelees for verray peyne.
But of my deeth thogh that ye have no routhe,

Avyseth yow er that ye breke youre trouthe.
Repenteth yow for thilke God above,
Er ye me sleen by cause that I yow love.
For madame, wel ye woot what ye han hight;
Nat that I chalange any thyng of right

Of yow, my sovereyn lady, but youre grace;
But in a gardyn yond at swich a place
Ye woot right wel what ye bihighten me,
And in myn hand youre trouthe plighten ye
To love me best, God woot ye seyde so,

Al be that I unworthy be therto.
Madame, I speke it for the honour of yow,
Moore than to save myn hertes lyf right now.
I have do so as ye comanded me,
And if ye vouchesauf, ye may go see.

Dooth as yow list, have youre biheste in mynde,
For, quyk or deed, right there ye shal me fynde.
In yow lith al, to do me lyve of deye,
But wel I woot the rokkes been aweye!"
He taketh his leve, and she astonied stood,

In al hir face nas a drope of blood.
She wende nevere han come in swich a trappe.
"Allas," quod she, "that evere this sholde happe.
For wende I nevere, by possibilitee,
That swich a monstre or merveille myghte be.

It is agayns the proces of nature."
And hoom she goth a sorweful creature,
For verray feere unnethe may she go.
She wepeth, wailleth, al a day or two,
And swowneth that it routhe was to see;

But why it was, to no wight tolde shee,
For out of towne was goon Arveragus.
But to hirself she spak, and seyde thus,
With face pale and with ful sorweful cheere,
In hire compleynt, as ye shal after heere.

"Allas!" quod she, "on thee, Fortune, I pleyne,
That unwar wrapped hast me in thy cheyne;
For which tescape woot I no socour
Save oonly deeth or elles dishonour;
Oon of thise two bihoveth me to chese.

But nathelees, yet have I levere to lese
My lyf, thanne of my body have a shame,
Or knowe myselven fals or lese my name,
And with my deth I may be quyt, ywis;
Hath ther nat many a noble wyf er this

And many a mayde yslayn hirself, allas,
Rather than with hir body doon trespas?
Yis, certes, lo, thise stories beren witnesse,
Whan thritty tirauntz, ful of cursednesse,
Hadde slayn Phidoun in Atthenes, at feste,

They comanded hise doghtres for tareste,
And bryngen hem biforn hem in despit,
Al naked, to fulfille hir foul delit,
And in hir fadres blood they made hem daunce
Upon the pavement, God yeve hem myschaunce;

For which thise woful maydens ful of drede,
Rather than they wolde lese hir maydenhede,
They prively been stirt into a welle
And dreynte hemselven, as the bookes telle.
They of Mecene leete enquere and seke

Of Lacedomye fifty maydens eke,
On whiche they wolden doon hir lecherye;
But was ther noon of al that compaignye
That she nas slayn, and with a good entente
Chees rather for to dye than assente

To been oppressed of hir maydenhede.
Why sholde I thanne to dye been in drede?
Lo, eek the tiraunt Aristoclides,
That loved a mayden heet Stymphalides,
Whan that hir fader slayn was on a nyght,

Unto Dianes temple goth she right,
And hente the ymage in hir handes two;
Fro which ymage wolde she nevere go,
No wight ne myghte hir handes of it arace,
Til she was slayn right in the selve place.

Now sith that maydens hadden swich despit,
To been defouled with mannes foul delit,
Wel oghte a wyf rather hirselven slee,
Than be defouled, as it thynketh me.
What shal I seyn of Hasdrubales wyf

That at Cartage birafte hirself hir lyf?
For whan she saugh that Romayns wan the toun,
She took hir children alle and skipte adoun
Into the fyr, and chees rather to dye
Than any Romayn dide hir vileynye.

Hath nat Lucresse yslayn hirself, allas,
At Rome whan that she oppressed was
Of Tarquyn, for hir thoughte it was a shame
To lyven whan she hadde lost hir name?
The sevene maydens of Melesie also

Han slayn hemself, for verray drede and wo
Rather than folk of Gawle hem sholde oppresse.
Mo than a thousand stories, as I gesse,
Koude I now telle as touchynge this mateere.
Whan Habradate was slayn, his wyf so deere

Hirselven slow, and leet hir blood to glyde
In Habradates woundes depe and wyde;
And seyde, "My body at the leeste way
Ther shal no wight defoulen, if I may."
What sholde I mo ensamples heer of sayn?

Sith that so manye han hemselven slayn,
Wel rather than they wolde defouled be,
I wol conclude that it is bet for me
To sleen myself, than been defouled thus.
I wol be trewe unto Arveragus,

Or rather sleen myself in som manere,
As dide Demociones doghter deere,
By cause that she wolde nat defouled be.
O Cedasus, it is ful greet pitee
To reden how thy doghtren deyde, allas,

That slowe hemself, for swich manere cas!
As greet a pitee was it, or wel moore,
The Theban mayden, that for Nichanore
Hirselven slow right for swich manere wo.
Another Theban mayden dide right so;

For oon of Macidonye hadde hire oppressed,
She with hire deeth hir maydenhede redressed.
What shal I seye of Nicerates wyf,
That for swich cas birafte hirself hir lyf?
How trewe eek was to Alcebiades

His love that rather for to dyen chees
Than for to suffre his body unburyed be.
"Lo, which a wyf was Alceste," quod she,
"What seith Omer of goode Penalopee?
Al Grece knoweth of hire chastitee.

Pardee of Lacedomya is writen thus,
That whan at Troie was slayn Protheselaus,
No lenger wolde she lyve after his day.
The same of noble Porcia telle I may,
Withoute Brutus koude she nat lyve,

To whom she hadde al hool hir herte yeve.
The parfit wyfhod of Arthemesie
Honured is thurgh al the Barbarie.
O Teuta queene, thy wyfly chastitee
To alle wyves may a mirrour bee!

The same thyng I seye of Bilyea,
Of Rodogone, and eek Valeria."
Thus pleyned Dorigene a day or tweye,
Purposynge evere that she wolde deye.
But nathelees, upon the thridde nyght

Hoom cam Arveragus, this worthy knyght,
And asked hir why that she weep so soore.
And she gan wepen ever lenger the moore.
"Allas!" quod she, "that evere I was born.
Thus have I seyd," quod she, "thus have I sworn;"

And toold hym al as ye han herd bifore,
It nedeth nat reherce it yow namoore.
This housbonde with glad chiere in freendly wyse
Answerde and seyde, as I shal yow devyse,
"Is ther oght elles, Dorigen, but this?"

"Nay, nay," quod she, "God helpe me so, as wys,
This is to muche, and it were Goddes wille."

Title: The Canterbury Tales
Author: Geoffrey Chaucer
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