The Canterbury tales
Geoffrey Chaucer
F.N. Robinson

The Knight's Tale

Part I

Whilom, as olde stories tellen us,
     859
Ther was a duc that highte theseus;
     860
Of atthenes he was lord and governour,
     861
And in his tyme swich a conquerour,
     862
That gretter was ther noon under the sonne.
     863
Ful many a riche contree hadde he wonne;
     864
What with his wysdom and his chivalrie,
     865
He conquered al the regne of femenye,
     866
That whilom was ycleped scithia,
     867
And weddede the queene ypolita,
     868
And broghte hire hoom with hym in his contree
     869
With muchel glorie and greet solempnytee,
     870
And eek hir yonge suster emelye.
     871
And thus with victorie and with melodye
     872
Lete I this noble duc to atthenes ryde,
     873
And al his hoost in armes hym bisyde.
     874
And certes, if it nere to long to heere,
     875
I wolde have toold yow fully the manere
     876
How wonnen was the regne of femenye
     877
By theseus and by his chivalrye;
     878
And of the grete bataille for the nones
     879
Bitwixen atthenes and amazones; Page  26
     880
And how asseged was ypolita,
     881
The faire, hardy queene of scithia;
     882
And of the feste that was at hir weddynge,
     883
And of the tempest at hir hoom-comynge;
     884
But al that thyng I moot as now forbere.
     885
I have, God woot, a large feeld to ere,
     886
And wayke been the oxen in my plough.
     887
The remenant of the tale is long ynough.
     888
I wol nat letten eek noon of this route;
     889
Lat every felawe telle his tale aboute,
     890
And lat se now who shal the soper wynne;
     891
And ther I lefte, I wol ayeyn bigynne.
     892
This duc, of whom I make mencioun,
     893
Whan he was come almoost unto the toun,
     894
In al his wele and in his mooste pride,
     895
He was war, as he caste his eye aside,
     896
Where that ther kneled in the heighe weye
     897
A compaignye of ladyes, tweye and tweye,
     898
Ech after oother, clad in clothes blake;
     899
But swich a cry and swich a wo they make
     900
That in this world nys creature lyvynge
     901
That herde swich another waymentynge;
     902
And of this cry they nolde nevere stenten
     903
Til they the reynes of his brydel henten.
     904
What fold been ye, that at myn homcomynge
     905
Perturben so my feste with criynge?
     906
Quod theseus. Have ye so greet envye
     907
Of myn honour, that thus compleyne and crye?
     908
Or who hath yow mysboden or offended?
     909
And telleth me if it may been amended,
     910
And why that ye been clothed thus in blak.
     911
The eldeste lady of hem alle spak,
     912
Whan she hadde swowned with a deedly cheere,
     913
That it was routhe for to seen and heere.
     914
She seyde: lord, to whom fortune hath yiven
     915
Victorie, and as a conqueror to lyven,
     916
Nat greveth us youre glorie and youre honour,
     917
But we biseken mercy and socour.
     918
Have mercy on oure wo and oure distresse!
     919
Som drope of pitee, thurgh thy gentillesse,
     920
Upon us wrecched wommen lat thou falle.
     921
For, certes, lord, ther is noon of us alle,
     922
That she ne hath been a duchesse or a queene.
     923
Now be we caytyves, as it is wel seene,
     924
Thanked be fortune and hire false wheel,
     925
That noon estaat assureth to be weel.
     926
And certes, lord, to abyden youre presence,
     927
Heere in this temple of the goddesse clemence
     928
We han ben waitynge al this fourtenyght.
     929
Now help us, lord, sith it is in thy myght.
     930
I, wrecche, which that wepe and wayle thus,
     931
Was whilom wyf to kyng cappaneus,
     932
That starf at thebes -- cursed be that day! --
     933
And alle we that been in this array
     934
And maken al this lamentacioun,
     935
We losten alle oure housbondes at that toun,
     936
Whil that the seege theraboute lay.
     937
And yet now the olde creon, weylaway!
     938
That lord is now of thebes the citee,
     939
Fulfild of ire and of iniquitee,
     940
He, for despit and for his tirannye,
     941
To do the dede bodyes vileynye
     942
Of alle oure lordes whiche that been yslawe,
     943
Hath alle the bodyes on an heep ydrawe,
     944
And wol nat suffren hem, by noon assent,
     945
Neither to been yburyed nor ybrent,
     946
But maketh houndes ete hem in despit.
     947
And with that word, withouten moore respit,
     948
They fillen gruf and criden pitously,
     949
Have on us wrecched wommen som mercy,
     950
And lat oure sorwe synken in thyn herte.
     951
This gentil duc doun from his courser sterte
     952
With herte pitous, whan he herde hem speke.
     953
Hym thoughte that his herte wolde breke,
     954
Whan he saugh hem so pitous and so maat,
     955
That whilom weren of so greet estaat;
     956
And in his armes he hem alle up hente,
     957
And hem conforteth in ful good entente,
     958
And swoor his ooth, as he was trewe knyght,
     959
He wolde doon so ferforthly his myght
     960
Upon the tiraunt creon hem to wreke,
     961
That al the peple of grece sholde speke
     962
How creon was of theseus yserved
     963
As he that hadde his deeth ful wel deserved.
     964
And right anoon, withouten moore abood,
     965
His baner he desplayeth, and forth rood
     966
To thebes-ward, and al his hoost biside.
     967
No neer atthenes wolde he go ne ride,
     968
Ne take his ese fully half a day,
     969
But onward on his wey that nyght he lay,
     970
And sente anon ypolita the queene,
     971
And emelye, hir yonge suster sheene,
     972
Unto the toun of atthenes to dwelle,
     973
And forth he rit; ther is namoore to telle.
     974
The rede statue of mars, with spere and targe,
     975
So shyneth in his white baner large,
     976
That alle the feeldes glyteren up and doun;
     977
And by his baner born is his penoun
     978
Of gold ful riche, in which ther was ybete
     979
The mynotaur, which that he slough in crete.
     980
Thus rit this duc, thus rit this conquerour,
     981
And in his hoost of chivalrie the flour,
     982
Til that he cam to thebes and alighte
     983
Faire in a feeld, ther as he thoughte to fighte.
     984
But shortly for to speken of this thyng,
     985
With creon, which that was of thebes kyng, Page  27
     986
He faught, and slough hym manly as a knyght
     987
In pleyn bataille, and putte the folk to flyght;
     988
And by assaut he wan the citee after,
     989
And rente adoun bothe wall and sparre and rafter;
     990
And to the ladyes he restored agayn
     991
The bones of hir housbondes that were slayn,
     992
To doon obsequies, as was tho the gyse.
     993
But it were al to longe for to devyse
     994
The grete clamour and the waymentynge
     995
That the ladyes made at the brennynge
     996
Of the bodies, and the grete honour
     997
That theseus, the noble conquerour,
     998
Dooth to the ladyes, whan they from hym wente;
     999
But shortly for to telle is myn entente.
     1000
Whan that this worthy duc, this theseus,
     1001
Hath creon slayn, and wonne thebes thus,
     1002
Stille in that feeld he took al nyght his reste,
     1003
And dide with al the contree as hym leste.
     1004
To ransake in the taas of bodyes dede,
     1005
Hem for to strepe of harneys and of wede,
     1006
The pilours diden bisynesse and cure
     1007
After the bataille and disconfiture.
     1008
And so bifel that in the taas they founde,
     1009
Thurgh-girt with many a grevous blody wounde,
     1010
Two yonge knyghtes liggynge by and by,
     1011
Bothe in oon armes, wroght ful richely,
     1012
Of whiche two arcita highte that oon,
     1013
And that oother knyght highte palamon.
     1014
Nat fully quyke, ne fully dede they were,
     1015
But by hir cote-armures and by hir gere
     1016
The heraudes knewe hem best in special
     1017
As they that weren of the blood roial
     1018
Of thebes, and of sustren two yborn.
     1019
Out of the taas the pilours han hem torn,
     1020
And han hem caried softe unto the tente
     1021
Of theseus; and he ful soone hem sente
     1022
To atthenes, to dwellen in prisoun
     1023
Perpetuelly, -- he nolde no raunsoun.
     1024
And whan this worthy duc hath thus ydon,
     1025
He took his hoost, and hoom he rit anon
     1026
With laurer crowned as a conquerour;
     1027
And ther he lyveth in joye and in honour
     1028
Terme of his lyf; what nedeth wordes mo?
     1029
And in a tour, in angwissh and in wo,
     1030
This palamon and his felawe arcite
     1031
For everemoore; ther may no gold hem quite.
     1032
This passeth yeer by yeer and day by day,
     1033
Till it fil ones, in a morwe of may,
     1034
That emelye, that fairer was to sene
     1035
Than is the lylie upon his stalke grene,
     1036
And fressher than the may with floures newe --
     1037
For with the rose colour stroof hire hewe,
     1038
I noot which was the fyner of hem two --
     1039
Er it were day, as was hir wone to do,
     1040
She was arisen and al redy dight;
     1041
For may wole have no slogardie a-nyght.
     1042
The sesoun priketh every gentil herte,
     1043
And maketh hym out of his slep to sterte,
     1044
And seith arys, and do thyn observaunce.
     1045
This maked emelye have remembraunce
     1046
To doon honour to may, and for to ryse.
     1047
Yclothed was she fressh, for to devyse:
     1048
Hir yelow heer was broyded in a tresse
     1049
Bihynde hir bak, a yerde long, I gesse.
     1050
And in the gardyn, at the sonne upriste,
     1051
She walketh up and doun, and as hire liste
     1052
She gadereth floures, party white and rede,
     1053
To make a subtil gerland for hire hede;
     1054
And as an aungel hevenysshly she soong.
     1055
The grete tour, that was so thikke and stroong,
     1056
Which of the castel was the chief dongeoun,
     1057
(ther as the knyghtes weren in prisoun
     1058
Of which I tolde yow and tellen shal)
     1059
Was evene joynant to the gardyn wal
     1060
Ther as this emelye hadde hir pleyynge.
     1061
Bright was the sonne and cleer that morwenynge,
     1062
And palamoun, this woful prisoner,
     1063
As was his wone, by leve of his gayler,
     1064
Was risen and romed in a chambre an heigh,
     1065
In which he al the noble citee seigh,
     1066
And eek the gardyn, ful of braunches grene,
     1067
Ther as this fresshe emelye the shene
     1068
Was in hire walk, and romed up and doun.
     1069
This sorweful prisoner, this palamoun,
     1070
Goth in the chambre romynge to and fro,
     1071
And to hymself compleynynge of his wo.
     1072
That he was born, ful ofte he seyde, allas!
     1073
And so bifel, by aventure or cas,
     1074
That thurgh a wyndow, thikke of many a barre
     1075
Of iren greet and square as any sparre,
     1076
He cast his eye upon emelya,
     1077
And therwithal he bleynte and cride, a!
     1078
As though he stongen were unto the herte.
     1079
And with that cry arcite anon up sterte,
     1080
And seyde, cosyn myn, what eyleth thee,
     1081
That art so pale and deedly on to see?
     1082
Why cridestow? who hath thee doon offence?
     1083
For goddes love, taak al in pacience
     1084
Oure prisoun, for it may noon oother be.
     1085
Fortune hath yeven us this adversitee.
     1086
Som wikke aspect or disposicioun
     1087
Of saturne, by som constellacioun,
     1088
Hath yeven us this, although we hadde it sworn; Page  28
     1089
So stood the hevene whan that we were born.
     1090
We moste endure it; this is the short and playn.
     1091
This palamon answerde and seyde agayn:
     1092
Cosyn, for sothe, of this opinioun
     1093
Thow hast a veyn ymaginacioun.
     1094
This prison caused me nat for to crye,
     1095
But I was hurt right now thurghout myn ye
     1096
Into myn herte, that wol my bane be.
     1097
The fairnesse of that lady that I see
     1098
Yond in the gardyn romen to and fro
     1099
Is cause of al my criyng and my wo.
     1100
I noot wher she be womman or goddesse,
     1101
But venus is it soothly, as I gesse.
     1102
And therwithal on knees doun he fil,
     1103
And seyde: venus, if it be thy wil
     1104
Yow in this gardyn thus to transfigure
     1105
Bifore me, sorweful, wrecched creature,
     1106
Out of this prisoun help that we may scapen.
     1107
And if so be my destynee be shapen
     1108
By eterne word to dyen in prisoun,
     1109
Of oure lynage have som compassioun,
     1110
That is so lowe ybroght by tirannye.
     1111
And with that word arcite gan espye
     1112
Wher as this lady romed to and fro,
     1113
And with that sighte hir beautee hurte hym so,
     1114
That, if that palamon was wounded sore,
     1115
Arcite is hurt as muche as he, or moore.
     1116
And with a sigh he seyde pitously:
     1117
The fresshe beautee sleeth me sodeynly
     1118
Of hire that rometh in the yonder place,
     1119
And but I have hir mercy and hir grace,
     1120
That I may seen hire atte leeste weye,
     1121
I nam but deed; ther nis namoore to seye.
     1122
This palamon, whan he tho wordes herde,
     1123
Dispitously he looked and answerde,
     1124
Wheither seistow this in ernest or in pley?
     1125
Nay, quod arcite, in ernest, by my fey!
     1126
God helpe me so, me list ful yvele pleye.
     1127
This palamon gan knytte his browes tweye.
     1128
It nere, quod he, to thee no greet honour
     1129
For to be fals, ne for to be traitour
     1130
To me, that am thy cosyn and thy brother
     1131
Ysworn ful depe, and ech of us til oother,
     1132
That nevere, for to dyen in the peyne,
     1133
Til that the deeth departe shal us tweyne,
     1134
Neither of us in love to hyndre oother,
     1135
Ne in noon oother cas, my leeve brother;
     1136
But that thou sholdest trewely forthren me
     1137
In every cas, as I shal forthren thee, --
     1138
This was thyn ooth, and myn also, certeyn;
     1139
I woot right wel, thou darst it nat withseyn.
     1140
Thus artow of my conseil, out of doute,
     1141
And now thow woldest falsly been aboute
     1142
To love my lady, whom I love and serve,
     1143
And evere shal til that myn herte sterve.
     1144
Nay, certes, false arcite, thow shalt nat so.
     1145
I loved hire first, and tolde thee my wo
     1146
As to my conseil and my brother sworn
     1147
To forthre me, as I have toold biforn.
     1148
For which thou art ybounden as a knyght
     1149
To helpen me, if it lay in thy myght,
     1150
Or elles artow fals, I dar wel seyn.
     1151
This arcite ful proudly spak ageyn:
     1152
Thow shalt, quod he, be rather fals than I;
     1153
And thou art fals, I telle thee outrely,
     1154
For paramour I loved hire first er thow.
     1155
What wiltow seyen? thou woost nat yet now
     1156
Wheither she be a womman or goddesse!
     1157
Thyn is affeccioun of hoolynesse,
     1158
And myn is love, as to a creature;
     1159
For which I tolde thee myn aventure
     1160
As to my cosyn and my brother sworn.
     1161
I pose that thow lovedest hire biforn;
     1162
Wostow nat wel the olde clerkes sawe,
     1163
That "who shal yeve a lovere any lawe?"
     1164
Love is a gretter lawe, by my pan,
     1165
Than may be yeve to any erthely man;
     1166
And therfore positif lawe and swich decree
     1167
Is broken al day for love in ech degree.
     1168
A man moot nedes love, maugree his heed.
     1169
He may nat fleen it, thogh he sholde be deed,
     1170
Al be she mayde, or wydwe, or elles wyf.
     1171
And eek it is nat likly al thy lyf
     1172
To stonden in hir grace; namoore shal I;
     1173
For wel thou woost thyselven, verraily,
     1174
That thou and I be dampned to prisoun
     1175
Perpetuelly; us gayneth no raunsoun.
     1176
We stryve as dide the houndes for the boon;
     1177
They foughte al day, and yet hir part was noon.
     1178
Ther cam a kyte, whil that they were so wrothe,
     1179
And baar awey the boon bitwixe hem bothe.
     1180
And therfore, at the kynges court, my brother,
     1181
Ech man for hymself, ther is noon oother.
     1182
Love, if thee list, for I love and ay shal;
     1183
And soothly, leeve brother, this is al.
     1184
Heere in this prisoun moote we endure,
     1185
And everich of us take his aventure.
     1186
Greet was the strif and long bitwix hem tweye,
     1187
If that I hadde leyser for to seye,
     1188
But to th' effect. It happed on a day,
     1189
To telle it yow as shortly as I may,
     1190
A worthy duc that highte perotheus,
     1191
That felawe was unto duc theseus
     1192
Syn thilke day that they were children lite, Page  29
     1193
Was come to atthenes his felawe to visite,
     1194
And for to pleye as he was wont to do;
     1195
For in this world he loved no man so,
     1196
And he loved hym als tendrely agayn.
     1197
So wel they lovede, as olde bookes sayn,
     1198
That whan that oon was deed, soothly to telle,
     1199
His felawe wente and soughte hym doun in helle, --
     1200
But of that storie list me nat to write.
     1201
Duc perotheus loved wel arcite,
     1202
And hadde hym knowe at thebes yeer by yere,
     1203
And finally at requeste and preyere
     1204
Of perotheus, withouten any raunsoun,
     1205
Duc theseus hym leet out of prisoun
     1206
Frely to goon wher that hym liste over al,
     1207
In swich a gyse as I you tellen shal.
     1208
This was the forward, pleynly for t' endite,
     1209
Bitwixen theseus and hym arcite
     1210
That if so were that arcite were yfounde
     1211
Evere in his lif, by day or nyght, oo stounde
     1212
In any contree of this theseus,
     1213
And he were caught, it was acorded thus,
     1214
That with a swerd he sholde lese his heed.
     1215
Ther nas noon oother remedie ne reed;
     1216
But taketh his leve, and homward he him spedde.
     1217
Lat hym be war! his nekke lith to wedde.
     1218
How greet a sorwe suffreth now arcite!
     1219
The deeth he feeleth thurgh his herte smyte;
     1220
He wepeth, wayleth, crieth pitously;
     1221
To sleen hymself he waiteth prively.
     1222
He seyde, allas that day that I was born!
     1223
Now is my prisoun worse than biforn;
     1224
Now is me shape eternally to dwelle.
     1225
Noght in purgatorie, but in helle.
     1226
Allas, that evere knew I perotheus!
     1227
For elles hadde I dwelled with theseus,
     1228
Yfetered in his prisoun everemo.
     1229
Thanne hadde I been in blisse, and nat in wo.
     1230
Oonly the sighte of hire whom that I serve,
     1231
Though that I nevere hir grace may deserve,
     1232
Wolde han suffised right ynough for me.
     1233
O deere cosyn palamon, quod he,
     1234
Thyn is the victorie of this aventure.
     1235
Ful blisfully in prison maistow dure, --
     1236
In prison? certes nay, but in paradys!
     1237
Wel hath fortune yturned thee the dys,
     1238
That hast the sighte of hire, and I th' absence.
     1239
For possible is, syn thou hast hire presence,
     1240
And art a knyght, a worthy and an able,
     1241
That by som cas, syn fortune is chaungeable,
     1242
Thow maist to thy desir somtyme atteyne.
     1243
But I, that am exiled and bareyne
     1244
Of alle grace, and in so greet dispeir,
     1245
That ther nys erthe, water, fir, ne eir,
     1246
Ne creature that of hem maked is,
     1247
That may me helpe or doon confort in this,
     1248
Wel oughte I sterve in wanhope and distresse.
     1249
Farwel my lif, my lust, and my gladnesse!
     1250
Allas, why pleynen folk so in commune
     1251
On purveiaunce of god, or of fortune,
     1252
That yeveth hem ful ofte in many a gyse
     1253
Wel bettre than they kan hemself devyse?
     1254
Som man desireth for to han richesse,
     1255
That cause is of his mordre or greet siknesse;
     1256
And som man wolde out of his prisoun fayn,
     1257
That in his hous is of his meynee slayn.
     1258
Infinite harmes been in this mateere.
     1259
We witen nat what thing we preyen heere:
     1260
We faren as he that dronke is as a mous.
     1261
A dronke man woot wel he hath an hous,
     1262
But he noot which the righte wey is thider,
     1263
And to a dronke man the wey is slider.
     1264
And certes, in this world so faren we;
     1265
We seken faste after felicitee,
     1266
But we goon wrong ful often, trewely.
     1267
Thus may we seyen alle, and namely I,
     1268
That wende and hadde a greet opinioun
     1269
That if I myghte escapen from prisoun,
     1270
Thanne hadde I been in joye and perfit heele,
     1271
Ther now I am exiled fro my wele.
     1272
Syn that I may nat seen you, emelye,
     1273
I nam but deed; ther nys no remedye.
     1274
Upon that oother syde palamon,
     1275
Whan that he wiste arcite was agon,
     1276
Swich sorwe he maketh that the grete tour
     1277
Resouneth of his youlyng and clamour.
     1278
The pure fettres on his shynes grete
     1279
Weren of his bittre, salte teeres wete.
     1280
Allas, quod he, arcita, cosyn myn,
     1281
Of al oure strif, God woot, the fruyt is thyn.
     1282
Thou walkest now in thebes at thy large,
     1283
And of my wo thow yevest litel charge.
     1284
Thou mayst, syn thou hast wisdom and manhede,
     1285
Assemblen alle the folk of oure kynrede,
     1286
And make a werre so sharp on this citee,
     1287
That by som aventure or some tretee
     1288
Thow mayst have hire to lady and to wyf
     1289
For whom that I moste nedes lese my lyf.
     1290
For, as by wey of possibilitee,
     1291
Sith thou art at thy large, of prisoun free,
     1292
And art a lord, greet is thyn avauntage
     1293
Moore than is myn, that sterve here in a cage.
     1294
For I moot wepe and wayle, whil I lyve,
     1295
With al the wo that prison may me yive,
     1296
And eek with peyne that love me yeveth also,
     1297
That doubleth al my torment and my wo. Page  30
     1298
Therwith the fyr of jalousie up sterte
     1299
Withinne his brest, and hente him by the herte
     1300
So woodly that he lyk was to biholde
     1301
The boxtree or the asshen dede and colde.
     1302
Thanne seyde he, o crueel goddes that governe
     1303
This world with byndyng of youre word eterne,
     1304
And writen in the table of atthamaunt
     1305
Youre parlement and youre eterne graunt,
     1306
What is mankynde moore unto you holde
     1307
Than is the sheep that rouketh in the folde?
     1308
For slayn is man right as another beest,
     1309
And dwelleth eek in prison and arreest,
     1310
And hath siknesse and greet adversitee,
     1311
And ofte tymes giltelees, pardee.
     1312
What governance is in this prescience,
     1313
That giltelees tormenteth innocence?
     1314
And yet encresseth this al my penaunce,
     1315
That man is bounden to his observaunce,
     1316
For goddes sake, to letten of his wille,
     1317
Ther as a beest may al his lust fulfille.
     1318
And whan a beest is deed he hath no peyne;
     1319
But man after his deeth moot wepe and pleyne,
     1320
Though in this world he have care and wo.
     1321
Withouten doute it may stonden so.
     1322
The answere of this lete I to dyvynys,
     1323
But wel I woot that in this world greet pyne ys.
     1324
Allas, I se a serpent or a theef,
     1325
That many a trewe man hath doon mescheef,
     1326
Goon at his large, and where hym list may turne.
     1327
But I moot been in prisoun thurgh saturne,
     1328
And eek thurgh juno, jalous and eek wood,
     1329
That hath destroyed wel ny al the blood
     1330
Of thebes with his waste walles wyde;
     1331
And venus sleeth me on that oother syde
     1332
For jalousie and fere of hym arcite.
     1333
Now wol I stynte of palamon a lite,
     1334
And lete hym in his prisoun stille dwelle,
     1335
And of arcita forth I wol yow telle.
     1336
The somer passeth, and the nyghtes longe
     1337
Encressen double wise the peynes stronge
     1338
Bothe of the lovere and the prisoner.
     1339
I noot which hath the wofuller mester.
     1340
For, shortly for to seyn, this palamoun
     1341
Perpetuelly is dampned to prisoun,
     1342
In cheynes and in fettres to been deed;
     1343
And arcite is exiled upon his heed
     1344
For everemo, as out of that contree,
     1345
Ne nevere mo he shal his lady see.
     1346
Yow loveres axe I now this questioun:
     1347
Who hath the worse, arcite or palamoun?
     1348
That oon may seen his lady day by day,
     1349
But in prison he moot dwelle alway;
     1350
That oother wher hym list may ride or go,
     1351
But seen his lady shal he nevere mo.
     1352
Now demeth as yow liste, ye that kan,
     1353
For I wol telle forth as I bigan.
     1354
Explicit prima pars.

Sequitur pars secunda.

Whan that arcite to thebes comen was,
     1355
Ful ofte a day he swelte and seyde allas!
     1356
For seen his lady shal he nevere mo.
     1357
And shortly to concluden al his wo,
     1358
So muche sorwe hadde nevere creature
     1359
That is, or shal, whil that the world may dure.
     1360
His slep, his mete, his drynke, is hym biraft,
     1361
That lene he wex and drye as is a shaft;
     1362
His eyen holwe, and grisly to biholde,
     1363
His hewe falow and pale as asshen colde,
     1364
And solitarie he was and evere allone,
     1365
And waillynge al the nyght, makynge his mone;
     1366
And if he herde song or instrument,
     1367
Thanne wolde he wepe, he myghte nat be stent.
     1368
So feble eek were his spiritz, and so lowe,
     1369
And chaunged so, that no man koude knowe
     1370
His speche nor his voys, though men it herde.
     1371
And in his geere for al the world he ferde,
     1372
Nat oonly lik the loveris maladye
     1373
Of hereos, but rather lyk manye,
     1374
Engendred of humour malencolik,
     1375
Biforen, in his celle fantastik.
     1376
And shortly, turned was al up so doun
     1377
Bothe habit and eek disposicioun
     1378
Of hym, this woful lovere daun arcite.
     1379
What sholde I al day of his wo endite?
     1380
Whan he endured hadde a yeer or two
     1381
This crueel torment and this peyne and wo,
     1382
At thebes, in his contree, as I seyde,
     1383
Upon a nyght in sleep as he hym leyde,
     1384
Hym thoughte how that the wynged God mercurie
     1385
Biforn hym stood and bad hym to be murie.
     1386
His slepy yerde in hond he bar uprighte;
     1387
An hat he werede upon his heris brighte.
     1388
Arrayed was this god, as he took keep,
     1389
As he was whan that argus took his sleep;
     1390
And seyde hym thus: to atthenes shaltou wende,
     1391
Ther is thee shapen of thy wo an ende.
     1392
And with that word arcite wook and sterte.
     1393
Now trewely, hou soore that me smerte,
     1394
Quod he, to atthenes right now wol I fare,
     1395
Ne for the drede of deeth shal I nat spare
     1396
To se my lady, that I love and serve. Page  31
     1397
In hire presence I recche nat to sterve.
     1398
And with that word he caughte a greet mirour,
     1399
And saugh that chaunged was al his colour,
     1400
And saugh his visage al in another kynde.
     1401
And right anon it ran hym in his mynde,
     1402
That, sith his face was so disfigured
     1403
Of maladye the which he hadde endured,
     1404
He myghte wel, if that he bar hym lowe,
     1405
Lyve in atthenes everemoore unknowe.
     1406
And seen his lady wel ny day by day.
     1407
And right anon he chaunged his array,
     1408
And cladde hym as a povre laborer,
     1409
And al allone, save oonly a squier
     1410
That knew his privetee and al his cas,
     1411
Which was disgised povrely as he was,
     1412
To atthenes is he goon the nexte way.
     1413
And to the court he wente upon a day,
     1414
And at the gate he profreth his servyse
     1415
To drugge and drawe, what so men wol devyse.
     1416
And shortly of this matere for to seyn,
     1417
He fil in office with a chamberleyn
     1418
The which that dwellynge was with emelye;
     1419
For he was wys and koude soone espye
     1420
Of every servaunt which that serveth here.
     1421
Wel koude he hewen wode, and water bere,
     1422
For he was yong and myghty for the nones,
     1423
And therto he was long and big of bones
     1424
To doon that any wight kan hym devyse.
     1425
A yeer or two he was in this servyse,
     1426
Page of the chambre of emelye the brighte;
     1427
And philostrate he seyde that he highte.
     1428
But half so wel biloved a man as he
     1429
Ne was ther nevere in court of his degree;
     1430
He was so gentil of condicioun
     1431
That thurghout al the court was his renoun.
     1432
They seyden that it were a charitee
     1433
That theseus wolde enhauncen his degree,
     1434
And putten hym in worshipful servyse,
     1435
Ther as he myghte his vertu excercise.
     1436
And thus withinne a while his name is spronge,
     1437
Bothe of his dedes and his goode tonge,
     1438
That theseus hath taken hym so neer,
     1439
That of his chambre he made hym a squier,
     1440
And gaf hym gold to mayntene his degree.
     1441
And eek men broghte hym out of his contree,
     1442
From yeer to yeer, ful pryvely his rente;
     1443
But honestly and slyly he it spente,
     1444
That no man wondred how that he it hadde.
     1445
And thre yeer in this wise his lif he ladde,
     1446
And bar hym so, in pees and eek in werre,
     1447
Ther was no man that theseus hath derre.
     1448
And in this blisse lete I now arcite,
     1449
And speke I wole of palamon a lite.
     1450
In derknesse and horrible and strong prisoun
     1451
Thise seven yeer hath seten palamoun
     1452
Forpyned, what for wo and for distresse.
     1453
Who feeleth double soor and hevynesse
     1454
But palamon, that love destreyneth so
     1455
That wood out of his wit he goth for wo?
     1456
And eek therto he is a prisoner
     1457
Perpetuelly, noght oonly for a yer.
     1458
Who koude ryme in englyssh proprely
     1459
His martirdom? for sothe it am nat I;
     1460
Therfore I passe as lightly as I may.
     1461
It fel that in the seventhe yer, of may
     1462
The thridde nyght, (as olde bookes seyn,
     1463
That al this storie tellen moore pleyn)
     1464
Were it by aventure or destynee --
     1465
As, whan a thyng is shapen, it shal be --
     1466
That soone after the mydnyght palamoun,
     1467
By helpyng of a freend, brak his prisoun
     1468
And fleeth the citee faste as he may go.
     1469
For he hadde yeve his gayler drynke so
     1470
Of a clarree maad of a certeyn wyn,
     1471
With nercotikes and opie of thebes fyn,
     1472
That al that nyght, thogh that men wolde him shake,
     1473
The gayler sleep, he myghte nat awake;
     1474
And thus he fleeth as faste as evere he may.
     1475
The nyght was short and faste by the day,
     1476
That nedes cost he moot hymselven hyde;
     1477
And til a grove faste ther bisyde
     1478
With dredeful foot thanne stalketh palamon.
     1479
For, shortly, this was his opinion,
     1480
That in that grove he wolde hym hyde al day,
     1481
And in the nyght thanne wolde he take his way
     1482
To thebes-ward, his freendes for to preye
     1483
On theseus to helpe him to werreye;
     1484
And shortly, outher he wolde lese his lif,
     1485
Or wynnen emelye unto his wyf.
     1486
This is th' effect and his entente pleyn.
     1487
Now wol I turne to arcite ageyn,
     1488
That litel wiste how ny that was his care,
     1489
Til that fortune had broght him in the snare.
     1490
The bisy larke, messager of day,
     1491
Salueth in hir song the morwe gray,
     1492
And firy phebus riseth up so bright
     1493
That al the orient laugheth of the light,
     1494
And with his stremes dryeth in the greves
     1495
The silver dropes hangynge on the leves.
     1496
And arcita, that in the court roial
     1497
With theseus is squier principal,
     1498
Is risen and looketh on the myrie day.
     1499
And for to doon his observaunce to may,
     1500
Remembrynge on the poynt of his desir,
     1501
He on a courser, startlynge as the fir,
     1502
Is riden into the feeldes hym to pleye, Page  32
     1503
Out of the court, were it a myle or tweye.
     1504
And to the grove of which that I yow tolde
     1505
By aventure his wey he gan to holde,
     1506
To maken hym a gerland of the greves
     1507
Were it of wodebynde or hawethorn leves,
     1508
And loude he song ayeyn the sonne shene:
     1509
May, with alle thy floures and thy grene,
     1510
Welcome be thou, faire, fresshe may,
     1511
In hope that I som grene gete may.
     1512
And from his courser, with a lusty herte,
     1513
Into the grove ful hastily he sterte,
     1514
And in a path he rometh up and doun,
     1515
Ther as by aventure this palamoun
     1516
Was in a bussh, that no man myghte hym se,
     1517
For soore afered of his deeth was he.
     1518
No thyng ne knew he that it was arcite;
     1519
God woot he wolde have trowed it ful lite.
     1520
But sooth is seyd, go sithen many yeres,
     1521
That feeld hath eyen and the wode hath eres.
     1522
It is ful fair a man to bere hym evene,
     1523
For al day meeteth men at unset stevene.
     1524
Ful litel woot arcite of his felawe,
     1525
That was so ny to herknen al his sawe,
     1526
For in the bussh he sitteth now ful stille.
     1527
Whan that arcite hadde romed al his fille,
     1528
And songen al the roundel lustily,
     1529
Into a studie he fil sodeynly,
     1530
As doon thise loveres in hir queynte geres,
     1531
Now in the crope, now doun in the breres,
     1532
Now up, now doun, as boket in a welle.
     1533
Right as the friday, soothly for to telle,
     1534
Now it shyneth, now it reyneth faste,
     1535
Right so kan geery venus overcaste
     1536
The hertes of hir folk; right as hir day
     1537
Is gereful, right so chaungeth she array.
     1538
Selde is the friday al the wowke ylike.
     1539
Whan that arcite had songe, he gan to sike,
     1540
And sette hym doun withouten any moore.
     1541
Allas, quod he, that day that I was bore!
     1542
How longe, juno, thurgh thy crueltee,
     1543
Woltow werreyen thebes the citee?
     1544
Allas, ybroght is to confusioun
     1545
The blood roial of cadme and amphioun, --
     1546
Of cadmus, which that was the firste man
     1547
That thebes bulte, or first the toun bigan,
     1548
And of the citee first was crouned kyng.
     1549
Of his lynage am I and his ofspryng
     1550
By verray ligne, as of the stok roial,
     1551
And now I am so caytyf and so thral,
     1552
That he that is my mortal enemy,
     1553
I serve hym as his squier povrely.
     1554
And yet dooth juno me wel moore shame,
     1555
For I dar noght biknowe myn owene name;
     1556
But ther as I was wont to highte arcite,
     1557
Now highte I philostrate, noght worth a myte.
     1558
Allas, thou felle mars! allas, juno!
     1559
Thus hath youre ire oure lynage al fordo,
     1560
Save oonly me and wrecched palamoun,
     1561
That theseus martireth in prisoun.
     1562
And over al this, to sleen me outrely,
     1563
Love hath his firy dart so brennyngly
     1564
Ystiked thurgh my trewe, careful herte,
     1565
That shapen was my deeth erst than my sherte.
     1566
Ye sleen me with youre eyen, emelye!
     1567
Ye been the cause wherfore that I dye.
     1568
Of al the remenant of myn oother care
     1569
Ne sette I nat the montance of a tare,
     1570
So that I koude doon aught to youre plesaunce.
     1571
And with that word he fil doun in a traunce
     1572
A longe tyme, and after he up sterte.
     1573
This palamoun, that thoughte that thurgh his herte
     1574
He felte a coold swerd sodeynliche glyde,
     1575
For ire he quook, no lenger wolde he byde.
     1576
And whan that he had herd arcites tale,
     1577
As he were wood, with face deed and pale,
     1578
He stirte hym up out of the buskes thikke,
     1579
And seide: arcite, false traytour wikke,
     1580
Now artow hent, that lovest my lady so,
     1581
For whom that I have al this peyne and wo,
     1582
And art my blood, and to my conseil sworn,
     1583
As I ful ofte have told thee heerbiforn,
     1584
And hast byjaped heere duc theseus,
     1585
And falsly chaunged hast thy name thus!
     1586
I wol be deed, or elles thou shalt dye.
     1587
Thou shalt nat love my lady emelye,
     1588
But I wol love hire oonly and namo;
     1589
For I am palamon, thy mortal foo.
     1590
And though that I no wepene have in this place,
     1591
But out of prison am astert by grace,
     1592
I drede noght that outher thow shalt dye,
     1593
Or thow ne shalt nat loven emelye.
     1594
Chees which thou wolt, for thou shalt nat asterte!
     1595
This arcite, with ful despitous herte,
     1596
Whan he hym knew, and hadde his tale herd,
     1597
As fiers as leon pulled out his swerd,
     1598
And seyde thus: by God that sit above,
     1599
Nere it that thou art sik and wood for love,
     1600
And eek that thow no wepne hast in this place,
     1601
Thou sholdest nevere out of this grove pace,
     1602
That thou ne sholdest dyen of myn hond.
     1603
For I defye the seurete and the bond
     1604
Which that thou seist that I have maad to thee.
     1605
What, verray fool, thynk wel that love is free,
     1606
And I wol love hire maugree al thy myght! Page  33
     1607
But for as muche thou art a worthy knyght;
     1608
And wilnest to darreyne hire by bataille,
     1609
Have heer my trouthe, tomorwe I wol nat faille,
     1610
Withoute wityng of any oother wight,
     1611
That heere I wol be founden as a knyght,
     1612
And bryngen harneys right ynough for thee;
     1613
And ches the beste, and leef the worste for me.
     1614
And mete and drynke this nyght wol I brynge
     1615
Ynough for thee, and clothes for thy beddynge.
     1616
And if so be that thou my lady wynne,
     1617
And sle me in this wode ther I am inne,
     1618
Thow mayst wel have thy lady as for me.
     1619
This palamon answerde, I graunte it thee.
     1620
And thus they been departed til amorwe,
     1621
Whan ech of hem had leyd his feith to borwe.
     1622
O cupide, out of alle charitee!
     1623
O regne, that wolt no felawe have with thee!
     1624
Ful sooth is seyd that love ne lordshipe
     1625
Wol noght, his thankes, have no felaweshipe.
     1626
Wel fynden that arcite and palamoun.
     1627
Arcite is riden anon unto the toun,
     1628
And on the morwe, er it were dayes light,
     1629
Ful prively two harneys hath he dight,
     1630
Bothe suffisaunt and mete to darreyne
     1631
The bataille in the feeld bitwix hem tweyne;
     1632
And on his hors, allone as he was born,
     1633
He carieth al the harneys hym biforn.
     1634
And in the grove, at tyme and place yset,
     1635
This arcite and this palamon ben met.
     1636
Tho chaungen gan the colour in hir face,
     1637
Right as the hunters in the regne of trace,
     1638
That stondeth at the gappe with a spere,
     1639
Whan hunted is the leon or the bere,
     1640
And hereth hym come russhyyng in the greves,
     1641
And breketh bothe bowes and the leves,
     1642
And thynketh, heere cometh my mortal enemy!
     1643
Withoute faille, he moot be deed, or I;
     1644
For outher I moot sleen hym at the gappe,
     1645
Or he moot sleen me, if that me myshappe, --
     1646
So ferden they in chaungyng of hir hewe,
     1647
As fer as everich of hem oother knewe.
     1648
Ther nas no good day, ne no saluyng,
     1649
But streight, withouten word or rehersyng,
     1650
Everich of hem heelp for to armen oother
     1651
As freendly as he were his owene brother;
     1652
And after that, with sharpe speres stronge
     1653
They foynen ech at oother wonder longe.
     1654
Thou myghtest wene that this palamon
     1655
In his fightyng were a wood leon,
     1656
And as a crueel tigre was arcite;
     1657
As wilde bores gonne they to smyte,
     1658
That frothen whit as foom for ire wood.
     1659
Up to the ancle foghte they in hir blood.
     1660
And in this wise I lete hem fightyng dwelle,
     1661
And forth I wole of theseus yow telle.
     1662
The destinee, ministre general,
     1663
That executeth in the world over al
     1664
The purveiaunce that God hath seyn biforn,
     1665
So strong it is that, though the world had sworn
     1666
The contrarie of a thyng by ye or nay,
     1667
Yet somtyme it shal fallen on a day
     1668
That falleth nat eft withinne a thousand yeer.
     1669
For certeinly, oure appetites heer,
     1670
Be it of werre, or pees, or hate, or love,
     1671
Al is this reuled by the sighte above.
     1672
This mene I now by myghty theseus,
     1673
That for to hunten is so desirus,
     1674
And namely at the grete hert in may,
     1675
That in his bed ther daweth hym no day
     1676
That he nys clad, and redy for to ryde
     1677
With hunte and horn and houndes hym bisyde.
     1678
For in his huntyng hath he swich delit
     1679
That it is al his joye and appetit
     1680
To been hymself the grete hertes bane,
     1681
For after mars he serveth now dyane.
     1682
Cleer was the day, as I have toold er this,
     1683
And theseus with alle joye and blis,
     1684
With his ypolita, the faire queene,
     1685
And emelye, clothed al in grene,
     1686
On huntyng be they riden roially.
     1687
And to the grove that stood ful faste by,
     1688
In which ther was an hert, as men hym tolde,
     1689
Duc theseus the streighte wey hath holde.
     1690
And to the launde he rideth hym ful right,
     1691
For thider was the hert wont have his flight,
     1692
And over a brook, and so forth on his weye.
     1693
This duc wol han a cours at hym or tweye
     1694
With houndes swiche as that hym list comaunde.
     1695
And whan this duc was come unto the launde,
     1696
Under the sonne he looketh, and anon
     1697
He was war of arcite and palamon,
     1698
That foughten breme, as it were bores two.
     1699
The brighte swerdes wenten to and fro
     1700
So hidously that with the leeste strook
     1701
It semed as it wolde felle an ook.
     1702
But what they were, no thyng he ne woot.
     1703
This duc his courser with his spores smoot,
     1704
And at a stert he was bitwix hem two,
     1705
And pulled out a swerd, and cride, hoo!
     1706
Namoore, up peyne of lesynge of youre heed!
     1707
By myghty mars, he shal anon be deed
     1708
That smyteth any strook that I may seen.
     1709
But telleth me what myster men ye been,
     1710
That been so hardy for to fighten heere Page  34
     1711
Withouten juge or oother officere,
     1712
As it were in a lystes roially.
     1713
This palamon answerde hastily,
     1714
And seyde, sire, what nedeth wordes mo?
     1715
We have the deeth disserved bothe two.
     1716
Two woful wrecches been we, two caytyves,
     1717
That been encombred of oure owene lyves;
     1718
And as thou art a rightful lord and juge,
     1719
Ne yif us neither mercy ne refuge,
     1720
But sle me first, for seinte charitee!
     1721
But sle my felawe eek as wel as me;
     1722
Or sle hym first, for though thow knowest it lite,
     1723
This is thy mortal foo, this is arcite,
     1724
That fro thy lond is banysshed on his heed,
     1725
For which he hath deserved to be deed.
     1726
For this is he that cam unto thy gate
     1727
And seyde that he highte philostrate.
     1728
Thus hath he japed thee ful many a yer,
     1729
And thou hast maked hym thy chief squier;
     1730
And this is he that loveth emelye.
     1731
For sith the day is come that I shal dye,
     1732
I make pleynly my confessioun
     1733
That I am thilke woful palamoun
     1734
That hath thy prisoun broken wikkedly.
     1735
I am thy mortal foo, and it am I
     1736
That loveth so hoote emelye the brighte
     1737
That I wol dye present in hir sighte.
     1738
Wherfore I axe deeth and my juwise;
     1739
But sle my felawe in the same wise,
     1740
For bothe han we deserved to be slayn.
     1741
This worthy duc answerde anon agayn,
     1742
And seyde, this is a short conclusioun.
     1743
Youre owene mouth, by youre confessioun,
     1744
Hath dampned yow, and I wol it recorde;
     1745
It nedeth noght to pyne yow with the corde.
     1746
Ye shal be deed, by myghty mars the rede!
     1747
The queene anon, for verray wommanhede,
     1748
Gan for to wepe, and so dide emelye,
     1749
And alle the ladyes in the compaignye.
     1750
Greet pitee was it, as it thoughte hem alle,
     1751
That evere swich a chaunce sholde falle;
     1752
For gentil men they were of greet estaat,
     1753
And no thyng but for love was this debaat;
     1754
And saugh hir blody woundes wyde and soore,
     1755
And alle crieden, bothe lasse and moore,
     1756
Have mercy, lord, upon us wommen alle!
     1757
And on hir bare knees adoun they falle,
     1758
And wolde have kist his feet ther as he stood;
     1759
Til at the laste aslaked was his mood,
     1760
For pitee renneth soone in gentil herte.
     1761
And though he first for ire quook and sterte,
     1762
He hath considered shortly, in a clause,
     1763
The trespas of hem bothe, and eek the cause,
     1764
And although that his ire hir gilt accused,
     1765
Yet in his resoun he hem bothe excused,
     1766
As thus: he thoghte wel that every man
     1767
Wol helpe hymself in love, if that he kan,
     1768
And eek delivere hymself out of prisoun.
     1769
And eek his herte hadde compassioun
     1770
Of wommen, for they wepen evere in oon;
     1771
And in his gentil herte he thoughte anon,
     1772
And softe unto hymself he seyde, fy
     1773
Upon a lord that wol have no mercy,
     1774
But been a leon, bothe in word and dede,
     1775
To hem that been in repentaunce and drede,
     1776
As wel as to a proud despitous man
     1777
That wol mayntene that he first bigan.
     1778
That lord hath litel of discrecioun,
     1779
That in swich cas kan no divisioun,
     1780
But weyeth pride and humblesse after oon.
     1781
And shortly, whan his ire is thus agoon,
     1782
He gan to looken up with eyen lighte,
     1783
And spak thise same wordes al on highte:
     1784
The God of love, a, benedicite!
     1785
How myghty and how greet a lord is he!
     1786
Ayeyns his myght ther gayneth none obstacles.
     1787
He may be cleped a God for his myracles;
     1788
For he kan maken, at his owene gyse,
     1789
Of everich herte as that hym list divyse.
     1790
Lo heere this arcite and this palamoun,
     1791
That quitly weren out of my prisoun,
     1792
And myghte han lyved in thebes roially,
     1793
And witen I am hir mortal enemy,
     1794
And that hir deth lith in my myght also;
     1795
And yet hath love, maugree hir eyen two,
     1796
Broght hem hyder bothe for to dye.
     1797
Now looketh, is nat that an heigh folye?
     1798
Who may been a fool, but if he love?
     1799
Bihoold, for goddes sake that sit above,
     1800
Se how they blede! be they noght wel arrayed?
     1801
Thus hath hir lord, the God of love, ypayed
     1802
Hir wages and hir fees for hir servyse!
     1803
And yet they wenen for to been ful wyse
     1804
That serven love, for aught that may bifalle.
     1805
But this is yet the beste game of alle,
     1806
That she for whom they han this jolitee
     1807
Kan hem therfore as muche thank as me.
     1808
She woot namoore of al this hoote fare,
     1809
By god, than woot a cokkow or an hare!
     1810
But all moot ben assayed, hoot and coold;
     1811
A man moot ben a fool, or yong or oold, --
     1812
I woot it by myself ful yore agon,
     1813
For in my tyme a servant was I oon.
     1814
And therfore, syn I knowe of loves peyne,
     1815
And woot hou soore it kan a man distreyne,
     1816
As he that hath ben caught ofte in his laas,
     1817
I yow foryeve al hoolly this trespaas, Page  35
     1818
At requeste of the queene, that kneleth heere,
     1819
And eek of emelye, my suster deere.
     1820
And ye shul bothe anon unto me swere
     1821
That nevere mo ye shal my contree dere,
     1822
Ne make werre upon me nyght ne day,
     1823
But been my freendes in all that ye may.
     1824
I yow foryeve this trespas every deel.
     1825
And they hym sworen his axyng faire and weel,
     1826
And hym of lordshipe and of mercy preyde,
     1827
And he hem graunteth grace, and thus he seyde:
     1828
To speke of roial lynage and richesse,
     1829
Though that she were a queene or a princesse,
     1830
Ech of you bothe is worthy, doutelees,
     1831
To wedden whan tyme is, but nathelees
     1832
I speke as for my suster emelye,
     1833
For whom ye have this strif and jalousye.
     1834
Ye woot yourself she may nat wedden two
     1835
Atones, though ye fighten everemo.
     1836
That oon of you, al be hym looth or lief,
     1837
He moot go pipen in an yvy leef;
     1838
This is to seyn, she may nat now han bothe,
     1839
Al be ye never so jalouse ne so wrothe.
     1840
And forthy I yow putte in this degree,
     1841
That ech of yow shal have his destynee
     1842
As hym is shape, and herkneth in what wyse;
     1843
Lo heere youre ende of that I shal devyse.
     1844
My wyl is this, for plat conclusioun,
     1845
Withouten any repplicacioun, --
     1846
If that you liketh, take it for the beste:
     1847
That everich of you shal goon where hym leste
     1848
Frely, withouten raunson or daunger;
     1849
And this day fifty wykes, fer ne ner,
     1850
Everich of you shal brynge an hundred knyghtes
     1851
Armed for lystes up at alle rightes,
     1852
Al redy to darreyne hire by bataille.
     1853
And this bihote I yow withouten faille,
     1854
Upon my trouthe, and as I am a knyght,
     1855
That wheither of yow bothe that hath myght, --
     1856
This is to seyn, that wheither he or thow
     1857
May with his hundred, as I spak of now,
     1858
Sleen his contrarie, or out of lystes dryve,
     1859
Thanne shal I yeve emelya to wyve
     1860
To whom that fortune yeveth so fair a grace.
     1861
The lystes shal I maken in this place,
     1862
And God so wisly on my soule rewe,
     1863
As I shal evene juge been and trewe.
     1864
Ye shul noon oother ende with me maken,
     1865
That oon of yow ne shal be deed or taken.
     1866
And if yow thynketh this is weel ysayd,
     1867
Seyeth youre avys, and holdeth you apayd.
     1868
This is youre ende and youre conclusioun.
     1869
Who looketh lightly now but palamoun?
     1870
Who spryngeth up for joye but arcite?
     1871
Who kouthe telle, or who kouthe it endite,
     1872
The joye that is maked in the place
     1873
Whan theseus hath doon so fair a grace?
     1874
But doun on knees wente every maner wight,
     1875
And thonked hym with al hir herte and myght,
     1876
And namely the thebans often sithe.
     1877
And thus with good hope and with herte blithe
     1878
They taken hir leve, and homward gonne they ride
     1879
To thebes, with his olde walles wyde.
     1880
Explicit secunda pars.

Sequitur pars tercia.

I trowe men wolde deme it necligence
     1881
If I foryete to tellen the dispence
     1882
Of theseus, that gooth so bisily
     1883
To maken up the lystes roially,
     1884
That swich a noble theatre as it was,
     1885
I dar wel seyen in this world ther nas.
     1886
The circuit a myle was aboute,
     1887
Walled of stoon, and dyched al withoute.
     1888
Round was the shap, in manere of compas,
     1889
Ful of degrees, the heighte of sixty pas,
     1890
That whan a man was set on o degree,
     1891
He letted nat his felawe for to see.
     1892
Estward ther stood a gate of marbul whit,
     1893
Westward right swich another in the opposit.
     1894
And shortly to concluden, swich a place
     1895
Was noon in erthe, as in so litel space;
     1896
For in the lond ther was no crafty man
     1897
That geometrie or ars-metrike kan,
     1898
Ne portreyour, ne kervere of ymages,
     1899
That theseus ne yaf him mete and wages,
     1900
The theatre for to maken and devyse.
     1901
And for to doon his ryte and sacrifise,
     1902
He estward hath, upon the gate above,
     1903
In worshipe of venus, goddesse of love,
     1904
Doon make an auter and an oratorie;
     1905
And on the gate westward, in memorie
     1906
Of mars, he maked hath right swich another,
     1907
That coste largely of gold a fother.
     1908
And northward, in a touret on the wal,
     1909
Of alabastre whit and reed coral,
     1910
An oratorie, riche for to see,
     1911
In worshipe of dyane of chastitee,
     1912
Hath theseus doon wroght in noble wyse.
     1913
But yet hadde I foryeten to devyse
     1914
The noble kervyng and the portreitures,
     1915
The shap, the contenaunce, and the figures,
     1916
That weren in thise oratories thre. Page  36
     1917
First in the temple of venus maystow se
     1918
Wroght on the wal, ful pitous to biholde,
     1919
The broken slepes, and the sikes colde,
     1920
The sacred teeris, and the waymentynge,
     1921
The firy strokes of the desirynge
     1922
That loves servantz in this lyf enduren;
     1923
The othes that hir covenantz assuren;
     1924
Plesaunce and hope, desir, foolhardynesse,
     1925
Beautee and youthe, bauderie, richesse,
     1926
Charmes and force, lesynges, flaterye,
     1927
Despense, bisynesse, and jalousye,
     1928
That wered of yelewe gooldes a gerland,
     1929
And a cokkow sittynge on hir hand;
     1930
Festes, instrumentz, caroles, daunces,
     1931
Lust and array, and alle the circumstaunces
     1932
Of love, which that I rekned and rekne shal,
     1933
By ordre weren peynted on the wal,
     1934
And mo than I kan make of mencioun.
     1935
For soothly al the mount of citheroun,
     1936
Ther venus hath hir principal dwellynge,
     1937
Was shewed on the wal in portreyynge,
     1938
With al the gardyn and the lustynesse.
     1939
Nat was foryeten the porter, ydelnesse,
     1940
Ne narcisus the faire of yore agon,
     1941
Ne yet the folye of kyng salomon,
     1942
Ne yet the grete strengthe of ercules --
     1943
Th-enchauntementz of medea and circes --
     1944
Ne of turnus, with the hardy fiers corage,
     1945
The riche cresus, kaytyf in servage.
     1946
Thus may ye seen that wysdom ne richesse,
     1947
Beautee ne sleighte, strengthe ne hardynesse,
     1948
Ne may with venus holde champartie,
     1949
For as hir list the world than may she gye.
     1950
Lo, alle thise folk so caught were in hir las,
     1951
Til they for wo ful ofte seyde allas!
     1952
Suffiseth heere ensamples oon or two,
     1953
And though I koude rekene a thousand mo.
     1954
The statue of venus, glorious for to se,
     1955
Was naked, fletynge in the large see,
     1956
And fro the navele doun al covered was
     1957
With wawes grene, and brighte as any glas.
     1958
A citole in hir right hand hadde she,
     1959
And on hir heed, ful semely for to se,
     1960
A rose gerland, fressh and wel smellynge;
     1961
Above hir heed hir dowves flikerynge.
     1962
Biforn hire stood hir sone cupido;
     1963
Upon his shuldres wynges hadde he two,
     1964
And blynd he was, as it is often seene;
     1965
A bowe he bar and arwes brighte and kene.
     1966
Why sholde I noght as wel eek telle yow al
     1967
The portreiture that was upon the wal
     1968
Withinne the temple of myghty mars the rede?
     1969
Al peynted was the wal, in lengthe and brede,
     1970
Lyk to the estres of the grisly place
     1971
That highte the grete temple of mars in trace,
     1972
In thilke colde, frosty regioun
     1973
Ther as mars hath his sovereyn mansioun.
     1974
First on the wal was peynted a forest,
     1975
In which ther dwelleth neither man ne best,
     1976
With knotty, knarry, bareyne trees olde,
     1977
Of stubbes sharpe and hidouse to biholde,
     1978
In which ther ran a rumbel in a swough,
     1979
As though a storm sholde bresten every bough.
     1980
And dounward from an hille, under a bente,
     1981
Ther stood the temple of mars armypotente,
     1982
Wroght al of burned steel, of which the entree
     1983
Was long and streit, and gastly for to see.
     1984
And therout came a rage and swich a veze
     1985
That it made al the gate for to rese.
     1986
The northren lyght in at the dores shoon,
     1987
For wyndowe on the wal ne was ther noon,
     1988
Thurgh which men myghten any light discerne.
     1989
The dore was al of adamant eterne,
     1990
Yclenched overthwart and endelong
     1991
With iren tough; and for to make it strong,
     1992
Every pyler, the temple to sustene,
     1993
Was tonne-greet, of iren bright and shene.
     1994
Ther saugh I first the derke ymaginyng
     1995
Of felonye, and al the compassyng;
     1996
The crueel ire, reed as any gleede;
     1997
The pykepurs, and eek the pale drede;
     1998
The smylere with the knyf under the cloke;
     1999
The shepne brennynge with the blake smoke;
     2000
The tresoun of the mordrynge in the bedde;
     2001
The open werre, with woundes al bibledde;
     2002
Contek, with blody knyf and sharp manace.
     2003
Al ful of chirkyng was that sory place.
     2004
The sleere of hymself yet saugh I ther, --
     2005
His herte-blood hath bathed al his heer;
     2006
The nayl ydryven in the shode a-nyght;
     2007
The colde deeth, with mouth gapyng upright.
     2008
Amyddes of the temple sat meschaunce,
     2009
With disconfort and sory contenaunce.
     2010
Yet saugh I woodnesse, laughynge in his rage,
     2011
Armed compleint, outhees, and fiers outrage;
     2012
The careyne in the busk, with throte ycorve;
     2013
A thousand slayn, and nat of qualm ystorve;
     2014
The tiraunt, with the pray by force yraft;
     2015
The toun destroyed, ther was no thyng laft.
     2016
Yet saugh I brent the shippes hoppesteres;
     2017
The hunte strangled with the wilde beres;
     2018
The sowe freten the child right in the cradel;
     2019
The cook yscalded, for al his longe ladel.
     2020
Noght was foryeten by the infortune of marte
     2021
The cartere overryden with his carte:
     2022
Under the wheel ful lowe he lay adoun.
     2023
Ther were also, of martes divisioun, Page  37
     2024
The barbour, and the bocher, and the smyth,
     2025
That forgeth sharpe swerdes on his styth.
     2026
And al above, depeynted in a tour,
     2027
Saugh I conquest, sittynge in greet honour,
     2028
With the sharpe swerd over his heed
     2029
Hangynge by a soutil twynes threed.
     2030
Depeynted was the slaughtre of julius,
     2031
Of grete nero, and of antonius;
     2032
Al be that thilke tyme they were unborn,
     2033
Yet was hir deth depeynted ther-biforn
     2034
By manasynge of mars, right by figure.
     2035
So was it shewed in that portreiture,
     2036
As is depeynted in the sterres above
     2037
Who shal be slayn or elles deed for love.
     2038
Suffiseth oon ensample in stories olde;
     2039
I may nat rekene hem alle though I wolde.
     2040
The statue of mars upon a carte stood
     2041
Armed, and looked grym as he were wood;
     2042
And over his heed ther shynen two figures
     2043
Of sterres, that been cleped in scriptures,
     2044
That oon puella, that oother rubeus --
     2045
This God of armes was arrayed thus.
     2046
A wolf ther stood biforn hym at his feet
     2047
With eyen rede, and of a man he eet;
     2048
With soutil pencel depeynted was this storie
     2049
In redoutynge of mars and of his glorie.
     2050
Now to the temple of dyane the chaste,
     2051
As shortly as I kan, I wol me haste,
     2052
To telle yow al the descripsioun.
     2053
Depeynted been the walles up and doun
     2054
Of huntyng and of shamefast chastitee.
     2055
Ther saugh I how woful calistopee,
     2056
Whan that diane agreved was with here,
     2057
Was turned from a womman til a bere,
     2058
And after was she maad the loode-sterre;
     2059
Thus was it peynted, I kan sey yow no ferre.
     2060
Hir sone is eek a sterre, as men may see.
     2061
Ther saugh I dane, yturned til a tree, --
     2062
I mene nat the goddesse diane,
     2063
But penneus doghter, which that highte dane.
     2064
Ther saugh I attheon an hert ymaked,
     2065
For vengeaunce that he saugh diane al naked;
     2066
I saugh how that his houndes have hym caught
     2067
And freeten hym, for that they knewe hym naught.
     2068
Yet peynted was a litel forther moor
     2069
How atthalante hunted the wilde boor,
     2070
And meleagre, and many another mo,
     2071
For which dyane wroghte hym care and wo.
     2072
Ther saugh I many another wonder storie,
     2073
The which me list nat drawen to memorie.
     2074
This goddesse on an hert ful hye seet,
     2075
With smale houndes al aboute hir feet;
     2076
And undernethe hir feet she hadde a moone, --
     2077
Wexynge it was and sholde wanye soone.
     2078
In gaude grene hir statue clothed was,
     2079
With bowe in honde, and arwes in a cas.
     2080
Hir eyen caste she ful lowe adoun,
     2081
Ther pluto hath his derke regioun.
     2082
A womman travaillynge was hire biforn;
     2083
But for hir child so longe was unborn,
     2084
Ful pitously lucyna gan she calle,
     2085
And seyde, help, for thou mayst best of alle!
     2086
Wel koude he peynten lifly that it wroghte;
     2087
With many a floryn he the hewes boghte.
     2088
Now been thise lystes maad, and theseus,
     2089
That at his grete cost arrayed thus
     2090
The temples and the theatre every deel,
     2091
Whan it was doon, hym lyked wonder weel.
     2092
But stynte I wole of theseus a lite,
     2093
And speke of palamon and of arcite.
     2094
The day approcheth of hir retournynge,
     2095
That everich sholde an hundred knyghtes brynge
     2096
The bataille to darreyne, as I yow tolde.
     2097
And til atthenes, hir covenant for to holde,
     2098
Hath everich of hem broght an hundred knyghtes,
     2099
Wel armed for the werre at alle rightes.
     2100
And sikerly ther trowed many a man
     2101
That nevere, sithen that the world bigan,
     2102
As for to speke of knyghthod of hir hond,
     2103
As fer as God hath maked see or lond,
     2104
Nas of so fewe so noble a compaignye.
     2105
For every wight that lovede chivalrye,
     2106
And wolde, his thankes, han a passant name,
     2107
Hath preyed that he myghte been of that game;
     2108
And wel was hym that therto chosen was.
     2109
For if ther fille tomorwe swich a cas,
     2110
Ye knowen wel that every lusty knyght
     2111
That loveth paramours and hath his myght,
     2112
Were it in engelond or elleswhere,
     2113
They wolde, hir thankes, wilnen to be there, --
     2114
To fighte for a lady, benedicitee!
     2115
It were a lusty sighte for to see.
     2116
And right so ferden they with palamon.
     2117
With hym ther wenten knyghtes many on;
     2118
Som wol ben armed in an haubergeoun,
     2119
And in a brestplate and light gypoun;
     2120
And som wol have a paire plates large;
     2121
And som wol have a pruce sheeld or a targe;
     2122
Som wol ben armed on his legges weel,
     2123
And have an ax, and som a mace of steel --
     2124
Ther is no newe gyse that it nas old.
     2125
Armed were they, as I have yow told,
     2126
Everych after his opinioun.
     2127
Ther maistow seen, comynge with palamoun,
     2128
Lygurge hymself, the grete kyng of trace. Page  38
     2129
Blak was his berd, and manly was his face;
     2130
The cercles of his eyen in his heed,
     2131
They gloweden bitwixen yelow and reed,
     2132
And lik a grifphon looked he aboute,
     2133
With kempe heeris on his browes stoute;
     2134
His lymes grete, his brawnes harde and stronge,
     2135
His shuldres brode, his armes rounde and longe;
     2136
And as the gyse was in his contree,
     2137
Ful hye upon a chaar of gold stood he,
     2138
With foure white boles in the trays.
     2139
In stede of cote-armure over his harnays,
     2140
With nayles yelewe and brighte as any gold,
     2141
He hadde a beres skyn, col-blak for old.
     2142
His longe heer was kembd bihynde his bak;
     2143
As any ravenes fethere it shoon for blak;
     2144
A wrethe of gold, arm-greet, of huge wighte,
     2145
Upon his heed, set ful of stones brighte,
     2146
Of fyne rubyes and of dyamauntz.
     2147
Aboute his chaar ther wenten white alauntz,
     2148
Twenty and mo, as grete as any steer,
     2149
To hunten at the leoun or the deer,
     2150
And folwed hym with mosel faste ybounde,
     2151
Colered of gold, and tourettes fyled rounde.
     2152
An hundred lordes hadde he in his route,
     2153
Armed ful wel, with hertes stierne and stoute.
     2154
With arcita, in stories as men fynde,
     2155
The grete emetreus, the kyng of inde,
     2156
Upon a steede bay trapped in steel,
     2157
Covered in clooth of gold, dyapred weel,
     2158
Cam ridynge lyk the God of armes, mars.
     2159
His cote-armure was of clooth of tars
     2160
Couched with perles white and rounde and grete;
     2161
His sadel was of brend gold newe ybete;
     2162
A mantelet upon his shulder hangynge,
     2163
Bret-ful of rubyes rede as fyr sparklynge;
     2164
His crispe heer lyk rynges was yronne,
     2165
And that was yelow, and glytered as the sonne.
     2166
His nose was heigh, his eyen bright citryn,
     2167
His lippes rounde, his colour was sangwyn;
     2168
A fewe frakenes in his face yspreynd,
     2169
Bitwixen yelow and somdel blak ymeynd;
     2170
And as a leon he his lookyng caste.
     2171
Of fyve and twenty yeer his age I caste.
     2172
His berd was wel bigonne for to sprynge;
     2173
His voys was as a trompe thonderynge.
     2174
Upon his heed he wered of laurer grene
     2175
A gerland, fressh and lusty for to sene.
     2176
Upon his hand he bar for his deduyt
     2177
An egle tame, as any lilye whyt.
     2178
An hundred lordes hadde he with hym there,
     2179
Al armed, save hir heddes, in al hir gere,
     2180
Ful richely in alle maner thynges.
     2181
For trusteth wel that dukes, erles, kynges
     2182
Were gadered in this noble compaignye,
     2183
For love and for encrees of chivalrye.
     2184
Aboute this kyng ther ran on every part
     2185
Ful many a tame leon and leopart.
     2186
And in this wise thise lordes, alle and some,
     2187
Been on the sonday to the citee come
     2188
Aboute pryme, and in the toun alight.
     2189
This theseus, this duc, this worthy knyght,
     2190
Whan he had broght hem into his citee,
     2191
And inned hem, everich at his degree,
     2192
He festeth hem, and dooth so greet labour
     2193
To esen hem and doon hem al honour,
     2194
That yet men wenen that no mannes wit
     2195
Of noon estaat ne koude amenden it.
     2196
The mynstralcye, the service at the feeste,
     2197
The grete yiftes to the meeste and leeste,
     2198
The riche array of theseus paleys,
     2199
Ne who sat first ne last upon the deys,
     2200
What ladyes fairest been or best daunsynge,
     2201
Or which of hem kan dauncen best and synge,
     2202
Ne who moost felyngly speketh of love;
     2203
What haukes sitten on the perche above,
     2204
What houndes liggen on the floor adoun, --
     2205
Of al this make I now no mencioun,
     2206
But al th' effect, that thynketh me the beste.
     2207
Now cometh the point, and herkneth if yow leste.
     2208
The sonday nyght, er day bigan to sprynge,
     2209
Whan palamon the larke herde synge,
     2210
(although it nere nat day by houres two,
     2211
Yet song the larke) and palamon right tho
     2212
With hooly herte and with an heigh corage,
     2213
He roos to wenden on his pilgrymage
     2214
Unto the blisful citherea benigne, --
     2215
I mene venus, honurable and digne.
     2216
And in hir houre he walketh forth a pas
     2217
Unto the lystes ther hire temple was,
     2218
And doun he kneleth, and with humble cheere
     2219
And herte soor, he seyde as ye shal heere:
     2220
Faireste of faire, o lady myn, venus,
     2221
Doughter to jove, and spouse of vulcanus,
     2222
Thow gladere of the mount of citheron,
     2223
For thilke love thow haddest to adoon,
     2224
Have pitee of my bittre teeris smerte,
     2225
And taak myn humble preyere at thyn herte.
     2226
Allas! I ne have no langage to telle
     2227
Th' effectes ne the tormentz of myn helle;
     2228
Myn herte may myne harmes nat biwreye;
     2229
I am so confus that I kan noght seye
     2230
But, -- mercy, lady bright, that knowest weele
     2231
My thought, and seest what harmes that feele!
     2232
Considere al this and rewe upon my soore,
     2233
As wisly as I shal for everemoore, Page  39
     2234
Emforth my myght, thy trewe servant be,
     2235
And holden werre alwey with chastitee.
     2236
That make I myn avow, so ye me helpe!
     2237
I kepe noght of armes for to yelpe,
     2238
Ne I ne axe nat tomorwe to have victorie,
     2239
Ne renoun in this cas, ne veyne glorie
     2240
Of pris of armes blowen up and doun;
     2241
But I wolde have fully possessioun
     2242
Of emelye, and dye in thy servyse.
     2243
Fynd thow the manere hou, and in what wyse:
     2244
I recche nat but it may bettre be
     2245
To have victorie of hem, or they of me,
     2246
So that I have my lady in myne armes.
     2247
For though so be that mars is God of armes,
     2248
Youre vertu is so greet in hevene above
     2249
That if yow list, I shal wel have my love.
     2250
Thy temple wol I worshipe everemo,
     2251
And on thyn auter, where I ride or go,
     2252
I wol doon sacrifice and fires beete.
     2253
And if ye wol nat so, my lady sweete,
     2254
Thanne preye I thee, tomorwe with a spere
     2255
That arcita me thurgh the herte bere.
     2256
Thanne rekke I noght, whan I have lost my lyf,
     2257
Though that arcita wynne hire to his wyf.
     2258
This is th' effect and ende of my preyere:
     2259
Yif me my love, thow blisful lady deere.
     2260
Whan the orison was doon of palamon,
     2261
His sacrifice he dide, and that anon,
     2262
Ful pitously, with alle circumstaunces,
     2263
Al telle I noght as now his observaunces;
     2264
But atte laste the statue of venus shook,
     2265
And made a signe, wherby that he took
     2266
That his preyere accepted was that day.
     2267
For thogh the signe shewed a delay,
     2268
Yet wiste he wel that graunted was his boone;
     2269
And with glad herte he wente hym hoom ful soone.
     2270
The thridde houre inequal that palamon
     2271
Bigan to venus temple for to gon,
     2272
Up roos the sonne, and up roos emelye,
     2273
And to the temple of dyane gan hye.
     2274
Hir maydens, that she thider with hire ladde,
     2275
Ful redily with hem the fyr they hadde,
     2276
Th' encens, the clothes, and the remenant al
     2277
That to the sacrifice longen shal;
     2278
The hornes fulle of meeth, as was the gyse:
     2279
Ther lakked noght to doon hir sacrifise.
     2280
Smokynge the temple, ful of clothes faire,
     2281
This emelye, with herte debonaire,
     2282
Hir body wessh with water of a welle.
     2283
But hou she dide hir ryte I dar nat telle,
     2284
But it be any thing in general;
     2285
And yet it were a game to heeren al.
     2286
To hym that meneth wel it were no charge;
     2287
But it is good a man been at his large.
     2288
Hir brighte heer was kembd, untressed al;
     2289
A coroune of a grene ook cerial
     2290
Upon hir heed was set ful fair and meete.
     2291
Two fyres on the auter gan she beete,
     2292
And dide hir thynges, as men may biholde
     2293
In stace of thebes and thise bookes olde.
     2294
Whan kyndled was the fyr, with pitous cheere
     2295
Unto dyane she spak as ye may heere:
     2296
O chaste goddesse of the wodes grene,
     2297
To whom bothe hevene and erthe and see is sene,
     2298
Queene of the regne of pluto derk and lowe,
     2299
Goddesse of maydens, that myn herte hast knowe
     2300
Ful many a yeer, and woost what I desire,
     2301
As keepe me fro thy vengeaunce and thyn ire,
     2302
That attheon aboughte cruelly.
     2303
Chaste goddesse, wel wostow that I
     2304
Desire to ben a mayden al my lyf,
     2305
Ne nevere wol I be no love ne wyf.
     2306
I am, thow woost, yet of thy compaignye,
     2307
A mayde, and love huntynge and venerye,
     2308
And for to walken in the wodes wilde,
     2309
And noght to ben a wyf and be with childe.
     2310
Noght wol I knowe compaignye of man.
     2311
Now help me, lady, sith ye may and kan,
     2312
For tho thre formes that thou hast in thee.
     2313
And palamon, that hath swich love to me,
     2314
And eek arcite, that loveth me so soore,
     2315
(this grace I preye thee withoute moore)
     2316
As sende love and pees bitwixe hem two,
     2317
And from me turne awey hir hertes so
     2318
That al hire hoote love and hir desir,
     2319
And al hir bisy torment, and hir fir
     2320
Be queynt, or turned in another place.
     2321
And if so be thou wolt nat do me grace,
     2322
Or if my destynee be shapen so
     2323
That I shal nedes have oon of hem two,
     2324
As sende me hym that moost desireth me.
     2325
Bihoold, goddesse of clene chastitee,
     2326
The bittre teeris that on my chekes falle.
     2327
Syn thou art mayde and kepere of us alle,
     2328
My maydenhede thou kepe and wel conserve
     2329
And whil I lyve, a mayde I wol thee serve.
     2330
The fires brenne upon the auter cleere,
     2331
Whil emelye was thus in hir preyere.
     2332
But sodeynly she saugh a sighte queynte,
     2333
For right anon oon of the fyres queynte,
     2334
And quyked agayn, and after that anon
     2335
That oother fyr was queynt and al agon;
     2336
And as it queynte it made a whistelynge,
     2337
As doon thise wete brondes in hir brennynge,
     2338
And at the brondes ende out ran anon Page  40
     2339
As it were blody dropes many oon;
     2340
For which so soore agast was emelye
     2341
That she was wel ny mad, and gan to crye,
     2342
For she ne wiste what it signyfied;
     2343
But oonly for the feere thus hath she cried,
     2344
And weep that it was pitee for to heere.
     2345
And therwithal dyane gan appeere,
     2346
With bowe in honde, right as an hunteresse,
     2347
And seyde, doghter, stynt thyn hevynesse.
     2348
Among the goddes hye it is affermed,
     2349
And by eterne word writen and confermed,
     2350
Thou shalt ben wedded unto oon of tho
     2351
That han for thee so muchel care and wo;
     2352
But unto which of hem I may nat telle.
     2353
Farwel, for I ne may no lenger dwelle.
     2354
The fires which that on myn auter brenne
     2355
Shulle thee declaren, er that thou go henne,
     2356
Thyn aventure of love, as in this cas.
     2357
And with that word, the arwes in the caas
     2358
Of the goddesse clateren faste and rynge,
     2359
And forth she wente, and made a vanysshynge;
     2360
For which this emelye astoned was,
     2361
And seyde, what amounteth this, allas?
     2362
I putte me in thy proteccioun,
     2363
Dyane, and in thy disposicioun.
     2364
And hoom she goth anon the nexte weye.
     2365
This is th' effect; ther is namoore to seye.
     2366
The nexte houre of mars folwynge this,
     2367
Arcite unto the temple walked is
     2368
Of fierse mars, to doon his sacrifise,
     2369
With alle the rytes of his payen wyse.
     2370
With pitous herte and heigh devocioun,
     2371
Right thus to mars he seyde his orisoun:
     2372
O stronge god, that in the regnes colde
     2373
Of trace honoured art and lord yholde,
     2374
And hast in every regne and every lond
     2375
Of armes al the brydel in thyn hond,
     2376
And hem fortunest as thee lyst devyse,
     2377
Accepte of me my pitous sacrifise.
     2378
If so be that my youthe may deserve,
     2379
And that my myght be worthy for to serve
     2380
Thy godhede, that I may been oon of thyne,
     2381
Thanne preye I thee to rewe upon my pyne.
     2382
For thilke peyne, and thilke hoote fir
     2383
In which thow whilom brendest for desir,
     2384
Whan that thow usedest the beautee
     2385
Of faire, yonge, fresshe venus free,
     2386
And haddest hire in armes at thy wille --
     2387
Although thee ones on a tyme mysfille,
     2388
Whan vulcanus hadde caught thee in his las,
     2389
And foond thee liggynge by his wyf, allas! --
     2390
For thilke sorwe that was in thyn herte,
     2391
Have routhe as wel upon my peynes smerte.
     2392
I am yong and unkonnynge, as thow woost,
     2393
And, as I trowe, with love offended moost
     2394
That evere was any lyves creature;
     2395
For she that dooth me al this wo endure
     2396
Ne reccheth nevere wher I synke or fleete.
     2397
And wel I woot, er she me mercy heete,
     2398
I moot with strengthe wynne hire in the place,
     2399
And, wel I woot, withouten help or grace
     2400
Of thee, ne may my strengthe noght availle.
     2401
Thanne help me, lord, tomorwe in my bataille,
     2402
For thilke fyr that whilom brente thee,
     2403
As wel as thilke fyr now brenneth me,
     2404
And do that I tomorwe have victorie.
     2405
Myn be the travaille, and thyn be the glorie!
     2406
Thy sovereyn temple wol I moost honouren
     2407
Of any place, and alwey moost labouren
     2408
In thy plesaunce and in thy craftes stronge,
     2409
And in thy temple I wol my baner honge
     2410
And alle the armes of my compaignye;
     2411
And everemo, unto that day I dye,
     2412
Eterne fir I wol bifore thee fynde.
     2413
And eek to this avow I wol me bynde:
     2414
My beerd, myn heer, that hongeth long adoun,
     2415
That nevere yet ne felte offensioun
     2416
Of rasour nor of shere, I wol thee yive,
     2417
And ben thy trewe servant whil I lyve.
     2418
Now, lord, have routhe upon my sorwes soore;
     2419
Yif me victorie, I aske thee namoore.
     2420
The preyere stynt of arcita the stronge,
     2421
The rynges on the temple dore that honge,
     2422
And eek the dores, clatereden ful faste,
     2423
Of which arcita somwhat hym agaste.
     2424
The fyres brenden upon the auter brighte,
     2425
That it gan al the temple for to lighte;
     2426
A sweete smel the ground anon up yaf,
     2427
And arcita anon his hand up haf,
     2428
And moore encens into the fyr he caste,
     2429
With othere rytes mo; and atte laste
     2430
The statue of mars bigan his hauberk rynge;
     2431
And with that soun he herde a murmurynge
     2432
Ful lowe and dym, and seyde thus, victorie!
     2433
For which he yaf to mars honour and glorie.
     2434
And thus with joye and hope wel to fare
     2435
Arcite anon unto his in is fare,
     2436
As fayn as fowel is of the brighte sonne.
     2437
And right anon swich strif ther is bigonne,
     2438
For thilke grauntyng, in the hevene above,
     2439
Bitwixe venus, the goddesse of love,
     2440
And mars, the stierne God armypotente,
     2441
That juppiter was bisy it to stente;
     2442
Til that the pale saturnus the colde,
     2443
That knew so manye of aventures olde,
     2444
Foond in his olde experience an art
     2445
That he ful soone hath plesed every part.
     2446
As sooth is seyd, elde hath greet avantage; Page  41
     2447
In elde is bothe wysdom and usage;
     2448
Men may the olde atrenne, and noght atrede.
     2449
Saturne anon, to stynten strif and drede,
     2450
Al be it that it is agayn his kynde,
     2451
Of al this strif he gan remedie fynde.
     2452
My deere doghter venus, quod saturne,
     2453
My cours, that hath so wyde for to turne,
     2454
Hath moore power than woot any man.
     2455
Myn is the drenchyng in the see so wan;
     2456
Myn is the prison in the derke cote;
     2457
Myn is the stranglyng and hangyng by the throte,
     2458
The murmure and the cherles rebellyng,
     2459
The groynynge, and the pryvee empoysonyng;
     2460
I do vengeance and pleyn correccioun,
     2461
Whil I dwelle in the signe of the leoun.
     2462
Myn is the ruyne of the hye halles,
     2463
The fallynge of the toures and of the walles
     2464
Upon the mynour or the carpenter.
     2465
I slow sampsoun, shakynge the piler;
     2466
And myne be the maladyes colde,
     2467
The derke tresons, and the castes olde;
     2468
My lookyng is the fader of pestilence.
     2469
Now weep namoore, I shal doon diligence
     2470
That palamon, that is thyn owene knyght,
     2471
Shal have his lady, as thou hast him hight.
     2472
Though mars shal helpe his knyght, yet nathelees
     2473
Bitwixe yow ther moot be som tyme pees,
     2474
Al be ye noght of o compleccioun,
     2475
That causeth al day swich divisioun.
     2476
I am thyn aiel, redy at thy wille;
     2477
Weep now namoore, I wol thy lust fulfille.
     2478
Now wol I stynten of the goddes above,
     2479
Of mars, and of venus, goddesse of love,
     2480
And telle yow as pleynly as I kan
     2481
The grete effect, for which that I bygan.
     2482
Explicit tercia pars.

Sequitur pars quarta.

Greet was the feeste in atthenes that day,
     2483
And eek the lusty seson of that may
     2484
Made every wight to been in swich plesaunce
     2485
That al that monday justen they and daunce,
     2486
And spenden it in venus heigh servyse.
     2487
But by the cause that they sholde ryse
     2488
Eerly, for to seen the grete fight,
     2489
Unto hir reste wenten they at nyght.
     2490
And on the morwe, whan that day gan sprynge,
     2491
Of hors and harneys noyse and claterynge
     2492
Ther was in hostelryes al aboute;
     2493
And to the paleys rood ther many a route
     2494
Of lordes upon steedes and palfreys.
     2495
Ther maystow seen devisynge of harneys
     2496
So unkouth and so riche, and wroght so weel
     2497
Of goldsmythrye, of browdynge, and of steel;
     2498
The sheeldes brighte, testeres, and trappures,
     2499
Gold-hewen helmes, hauberkes, cote-armures;
     2500
Lordes in parementz on hir courseres,
     2501
Knyghtes of retenue, and eek squieres
     2502
Nailynge the speres, and helmes bokelynge;
     2503
Giggynge of sheeldes, with layneres lacynge
     2504
(there as nede is they weren no thyng ydel);
     2505
The fomy steedes on the golden brydel
     2506
Gnawynge, and faste the armurers also
     2507
With fyle and hamer prikynge to and fro;
     2508
Yemen on foote, and communes many oon
     2509
With fyle and hamer prikynge to and fro;
     2510
Pypes, trompes, nakers, clariounes,
     2511
That in the bataille blowen blody sounes;
     2512
The paleys ful of peple up and doun,
     2513
Heere thre, ther ten, holdynge hir questioun,
     2514
Dyvynynge of thise thebane knyghtes two.
     2515
Somme seyden thus, somme seyde it shal be so;
     2516
Somme helden with hym with the blake berd,
     2517
Somme with the balled, somme with the thikke herd;
     2518
Somme seyde he looked grymme, and he wolde fighte;
     2519
He hath a sparth of twenty pound of wighte.
     2520
Thus was the halle ful of divynynge,
     2521
Longe after that the sonne gan to sprynge.
     2522
The grete theseus, that of his sleep awaked
     2523
With mynstralcie and noyse that was maked,
     2524
Heeld yet the chambre of his paleys riche,
     2525
Til that the thebane knyghtes, bothe yliche
     2526
Honured, were into the paleys fet.
     2527
Duc theseus was at a wyndow set,
     2528
Arrayed right as he were a God in trone.
     2529
The peple preesseth thiderward ful soone
     2530
Hym for to seen, and doon heigh reverence,
     2531
And eek to herkne his heste and his sentence.
     2532
And heraud on a scaffold made an oo!
     2533
Til al the noyse of peple was ydo,
     2534
And whan he saugh the peple of noyse al stille,
     2535
Tho shewed he the myghty dukes wille.
     2536
The lord hath of his heigh discrecioun
     2537
Considered that it were destruccioun
     2538
To gentil blood to fighten in the gyse
     2539
Of mortal bataille now in this emprise.
     2540
Wherfore, to shapen that they shal nat dye,
     2541
He wol his firste purpos modifye.
     2542
No man therfore, up peyne of los of lyf,
     2543
No maner shot, ne polax, ne short knyf Page  42
     2544
Into the lystes sende, or thider brynge;
     2545
Ne short swerd, for to stoke with poynt bitynge,
     2546
No man ne drawe, ne bere it by his syde.
     2547
Ne no man shal unto his felawe ryde
     2548
But o cours, with a sharpe ygrounde spere;
     2549
Foyne, if hym list, on foote, hymself to were.
     2550
And he that is at meschief shal be take
     2551
And noght slayn, but be broght unto the stake
     2552
That shal ben ordeyned on either syde;
     2553
But thider he shal by force, and there abyde.
     2554
And if so falle the chieftayn be take
     2555
On outher syde, or elles sleen his make,
     2556
No lenger shal the turneiynge laste.
     2557
God spede you! gooth forth, and ley on faste!
     2558
With long swerd and with maces fighteth youre fille.
     2559
Gooth now youre wey, this is the lordes wille.
     2560
The voys of peple touchede the hevene,
     2561
So loude cride they with murie stevene,
     2562
God save swich a lord, that is so good,
     2563
He wilneth no destruccion of blood!
     2564
Up goon the trompes and the melodye,
     2565
And to the lystes rit the compaignye,
     2566
By ordinance, thurghout the citee large,
     2567
Hanged with clooth of gold, and nat with sarge.
     2568
Ful lik a lord this noble duc gan ryde,
     2569
Thise two thebans upon either syde;
     2570
And after rood the queene, and emelye,
     2571
And after that another compaignye
     2572
Of oon and oother, after hir degree.
     2573
And thus they passen thurghout the citee,
     2574
And to the lystes come they by tyme.
     2575
It nas nat of the day yet fully pryme
     2576
Whan set was theseus ful riche and hye,
     2577
Ypolita the queene, and emelye,
     2578
And othere ladys in degrees aboute.
     2579
Unto the seetes preesseth al the route.
     2580
And westward, thurgh the gates under marte,
     2581
Arcite, and eek the hondred of his parte,
     2582
With baner reed is entred right anon;
     2583
And in that selve moment palamon
     2584
Is under venus, estward in the place,
     2585
With baner whyt, and hardy chiere and face.
     2586
In al the world, to seken up and doun,
     2587
So evene, withouten variacioun,
     2588
Ther nere swiche compaignyes tweye;
     2589
For ther was noon so wys that koude seye
     2590
That any hadde of oother avauntage
     2591
Of worthynesse, ne of estaat, ne age,
     2592
So evene were they chosen, for to gesse.
     2593
And in two renges faire they hem dresse.
     2594
Whan that hir names rad were everichon,
     2595
That in hir nombre gyle were ther noon,
     2596
Tho were the gates shet, and cried was loude:
     2597
Do now youre devoir, yonge knyghtes proude!
     2598
The heraudes lefte hir prikyng up and doun;
     2599
Now ryngen trompes loude and clarioun.
     2600
Ther is namoore to seyn, but west and est
     2601
In goon the speres ful sadly in arrest;
     2602
In gooth the sharpe spore into the syde.
     2603
Ther seen men who kan juste and who kan ryde;
     2604
Ther shyveren shaftes upon sheeldes thikke;
     2605
He feeleth thurgh the herte-spoon the prikke.
     2606
Up spryngen speres twenty foot on highte;
     2607
Out goon the swerdes as the silver brighte;
     2608
The helmes they tohewen and toshrede;
     2609
Out brest the blood with stierne stremes rede;
     2610
With myghty maces the bones they tobreste.
     2611
He thurgh the thikkeste of the throng gan threste;
     2612
Ther stomblen steedes stronge, and doun gooth al;
     2613
He rolleth under foot as dooth a bal;
     2614
He foyneth on his feet with his tronchoun,
     2615
And he hym hurtleth with hors adoun;
     2616
He thurgh the body is hurt and sither take,
     2617
Maugree his heed, and broght unto the stake:
     2618
As forward was, right there he moste abyde.
     2619
Another lad is on that oother syde.
     2620
And some tyme dooth hem theseus to reste,
     2621
Hem to refresshe and drynken, if hem leste.
     2622
Ful ofte a day han thise thebanes two
     2623
Togydre ymet, and wroght his felawe wo;
     2624
Unhorsed hath ech oother of hem tweye.
     2625
Ther nas no tygre in the vale of galgopheye,
     2626
Whan that hir whelp is stole whan it is lite,
     2627
So crueel on the hunte as is arcite
     2628
For jelous herte upon this palamon.
     2629
Ne in belmarye ther nys so fel leon,
     2630
That hunted is, or for his hunger wood,
     2631
Ne of his praye desireth so the blood,
     2632
As palamon to sleen his foo arcite.
     2633
The jelous strokes on hir helmes byte;
     2634
Out renneth blood on bothe hir sydes rede.
     2635
Som tyme an ende ther is of every dede.
     2636
For er the sonne unto the reste wente,
     2637
The stronge kyng emetreus gan hente
     2638
This palamon, as he faught with arcite,
     2639
And made his swerd depe in his flessh to byte;
     2640
And by the force of twenty is he take
     2641
Unyolden, and ydrawe unto the stake.
     2642
And in the rescus of this palamoun
     2643
The stronge kyng lygurge is born adoun,
     2644
And kyng emetreus, for al his strengthe, Page  43
     2645
Is born out of his sadel a swerdes lengthe,
     2646
So hitte him palamoun er he were take;
     2647
But al for noght, he was broght to the stake.
     2648
His hardy herte myghte hym helpe naught:
     2649
He moste abyde, whan that he was caught,
     2650
By force and eek by composicioun.
     2651
Who sorweth now but woful palamoun,
     2652
That moot namoore goon agayn to fighte?
     2653
And whan that theseus hadde seyn this sighte,
     2654
Unto the folk that foghten thus echon
     2655
He cryde, hoo! namoore, for it is doon!
     2656
I wol be trewe juge, and no partie.
     2657
Arcite of thebes shal have emelie,
     2658
That by his fortune hath hire faire ywonne.
     2659
Anon ther is a noyse of peple bigonne
     2660
For joye of this, so loude and heighe withalle,
     2661
It semed that the lystes sholde falle.
     2662
What kan now faire venus doon above?
     2663
What seith she now? what dooth this queene of love,
     2664
But wepeth so, for wantynge of hir wille,
     2665
Til that hir teeres in the lystes fille?
     2666
She seyde, I am ashamed, douteless.
     2667
Saturnus seyde, doghter, hoold thy pees!
     2668
Mars hath his wille, his knyght hath al his boone,
     2669
And, by myn heed, thow shalt been esed soone.
     2670
The trompours, with the loude mynstralcie,
     2671
The heraudes, that ful loude yelle and crie,
     2672
Been in hire wele for joye of daun arcite.
     2673
But herkneth me, and stynteth noyse a lite,
     2674
Which a myracle ther bifel anon.
     2675
This fierse arcite hath of his helm ydon,
     2676
And on a courser, for to shewe his face,
     2677
He priketh endelong the large place
     2678
Lokynge upward upon this emelye;
     2679
And she agayn hym caste a freendlich ye
     2680
(for wommen, as to speken in comune,
     2681
Thei folwen alle the favour of fortune)
     2682
And was al his chiere, as in his herte.
     2683
Out of the ground a furie infernal sterte,
     2684
From pluto sent at requeste of saturne,
     2685
For which his hors for fere gan to turne,
     2686
And leep aside, and foundred as he leep;
     2687
And er that arcite may taken keep,
     2688
He pighte hym on the pomel of his heed,
     2689
That in the place he lay as he were deed,
     2690
His brest tobrosten with his sadel-bowe.
     2691
As blak he lay as any cole or crowe,
     2692
So was the blood yronnen in his face.
     2693
Anon he was yborn out of the place,
     2694
With herte soor, to theseus paleys.
     2695
Tho was he korven out of his harneys,
     2696
And in a bed ybrought ful faire and blyve;
     2697
For he was yet in memorie and alyve,
     2698
And alwey criynge after emelye.
     2699
Duc theseus, with al his compaignye,
     2700
Is comen hoom to atthenes his citee,
     2701
With alle blisse and greet solempnitee.
     2702
Al be it that this aventure was falle,
     2703
He nolde noght disconforten hem alle.
     2704
Men seyde eek that arcite shal nat dye;
     2705
He shal been heeled of his maladye.
     2706
And of another thyng they weren as fayn,
     2707
That of hem alle was ther noon yslayn,
     2708
Al were they soore yhurt, and namely oon,
     2709
That with a spere was thirled his brest boon.
     2710
To othere woundes and to broken armes
     2711
Somme hadden salves, and somme hadden charmes;
     2712
Fermacies of herbes, and eek save
     2713
They dronken, for they wolde hir lymes have.
     2714
For which this noble duc, as he wel kan,
     2715
Conforteth and honoureth every man,
     2716
And made revel al the longe nyght
     2717
Unto the straunge lordes, as was right.
     2718
Ne ther was holden no disconfitynge
     2719
But as a justes, or a tourneiynge;
     2720
For soothly ther was no disconfiture.
     2721
For fallyng nys nat but an aventure,
     2722
Ne to be lad by force unto the stake
     2723
Unyolden, and with twenty knyghtes take,
     2724
O persone allone, withouten mo,
     2725
And haryed forth by arme, foot, and too,
     2726
And eke his steede dryven forth with staves
     2727
With footmen, bothe yemen and eek knaves, --
     2728
It nas arretted hym no vileynye;
     2729
Ther may no man clepen it cowardye.
     2730
For which anon duc theseus leet crye,
     2731
To stynten alle rancour and envye,
     2732
The gree as wel of o syde as of oother,
     2733
And eyther syde ylik as ootheres brother;
     2734
And yaf hem yiftes after hir degree,
     2735
And fully heeld a feeste dayes three,
     2736
And conveyed the kynges worthily
     2737
Out of his toun a journee largely.
     2738
And hoom wente every man the righte way.
     2739
Ther was namoore but fare wel, have good day!
     2740
Of this bataille I wol namoore endite,
     2741
But speke of palamon and of arcite.
     2742
Swelleth the brest of arcite, and the soore
     2743
Encreesseth at his herte moore and moore.
     2744
The clothered blood, for any lechecraft,
     2745
Corrupteth, and is in his bouk ylaft,
     2746
That neither veyne-blood, ne ventusynge,
     2747
Ne drynke of herbes may ben his helpynge.
     2748
The vertu expulsif, or animal, Page  44
     2749
Fro thilke vertu cleped natural
     2750
Ne may the venym voyden ne expelle.
     2751
The pipes of his longes gonne to swelle,
     2752
And every lacerte in his brest adoun
     2753
Is shent with venym and corrupcioun.
     2754
Hym gayneth neither, for to gete his lif,
     2755
Vomyt upward, ne dounward laxatif.
     2756
Al is tobrosten thilke regioun;
     2757
Nature hath now no dominacioun.
     2758
And certeinly, ther nature wol nat wirche,
     2759
Fare wel phisik! go ber the man to chirche!
     2760
This al and som, that arcita moot dye;
     2761
For which he sendeth after emelye,
     2762
And palamon, that was his cosyn deere.
     2763
Thanne seyde he thus, as ye shal after heere:
     2764
Naught may the woful spirit in myn herte
     2765
Declare o point of alle my sorwes smerte
     2766
To yow, my lady, that I love moost;
     2767
But I biquethe the servyce of my goost
     2768
To yow aboven every creature,
     2769
Syn that my lyf may no lenger dure.
     2770
Allas, the wo! allas, the peynes stronge,
     2771
That I for yow have suffred, and so longe!
     2772
Allas, the deeth! allas, myn emelye!
     2773
Allas, departynge of oure compaignye!
     2774
Allas, myn hertes queene! allas, my wyf!
     2775
Myn hertes lady, endere of my lyf!
     2776
What is this world? what asketh men to have?
     2777
Now with his love, now in his colde grave
     2778
Allone, withouten any compaignye.
     2779
Fare wel, my sweete foo, myn emelye!
     2780
And softe taak me in youre armes tweye,
     2781
For love of god, and herkneth what I seye.
     2782
I have heer with my cosyn palamon
     2783
Had strif and rancour many a day agon
     2784
For love of yow, and for my jalousye.
     2785
And juppiter so wys my soule gye,
     2786
To speken of a servaunt proprely,
     2787
With alle circumstances trewely --
     2788
That is to seyen, trouthe, honour, knyghthede,
     2789
Wysdom, humblesse, estaat, and heigh kynrede,
     2790
Fredom, and al that longeth to that art --
     2791
So juppiter have of my soule part,
     2792
As in this world right now ne knowe I non
     2793
So worthy to ben loved as palamon,
     2794
That serveth yow, and wol doon al his lyf.
     2795
And if that evere ye shul ben a wyf,
     2796
Foryet nat palamon, the gentil man.
     2797
And with that word his speche faille gan,
     2798
For from his feet up to his brest was come
     2799
The coold of deeth, that hadde hym overcome,
     2800
And yet mooreover, for in his armes two
     2801
The vital strengthe is lost and al ago.
     2802
Oonly the intellect, withouten moore,
     2803
That dwelled in his herte syk and soore,
     2804
Gan faillen whan the herte felte deeth.
     2805
Dusked his eyen two, and failled breeth,
     2806
But on his lady yet caste he his ye;
     2807
His laste word was, mercy, emelye!
     2808
His spirit chaunged hous and wente ther,
     2809
As I cam nevere, I kan nat tellen wher.
     2810
Therfore I stynte, I nam no divinistre;
     2811
Of soules fynde I nat in this registre,
     2812
Ne me ne list thilke opinions to telle
     2813
Of hem, though that they writen wher they dwelle.
     2814
Arcite is coold, ther mars his soule gye!
     2815
Now wol I speken forth of emelye.
     2816
Shrighte emelye, and howleth palamon,
     2817
And theseus his suster took anon
     2818
Swownynge, and baar hire fro the corps away.
     2819
What helpeth it to tarien forth the day
     2820
To tellen how she weep bothe eve and morwe?
     2821
For in swich cas wommen have swich sorwe,
     2822
Whan that hir housbondes ben from hem ago,
     2823
That for the moore part they sorwen so,
     2824
Or ellis fallen in swich maladye,
     2825
That at the laste certeinly they dye.
     2826
Infinite been the sorwes and the teeres
     2827
Of olde folk, and folk of tendre yeeres,
     2828
In al the toun for deeth of this theban.
     2829
For hym ther wepeth bothe child and man;
     2830
So greet wepyng was ther noon, certayn,
     2831
Whan ector was ybroght, al fressh yslayn,
     2832
To troye. Allas, the pitee that was ther,
     2833
Cracchynge of chekes, rentynge eek of heer.
     2834
Why woldestow be deed, thise wommen crye,
     2835
And haddest gold ynough, and emelye?
     2836
No man myghte gladen theseus,
     2837
Savynge his olde fader egeus,
     2838
That knew this worldes transmutacioun,
     2839
As he hadde seyn it chaunge bothe up and doun,
     2840
Joye after wo, and wo after gladnesse,
     2841
And shewed hem ensamples and liknesse.
     2842
Right as ther dyed nevere man, quod he,
     2843
That he ne lyvede in erthe in some degree,
     2844
Right so ther lyvede never man, he seyde,
     2845
In al this world, that som tyme he ne deyde.
     2846
This world nys but a thurghfare ful of wo,
     2847
And we been pilgrymes, passynge to and fro.
     2848
Deeth is an ende of every worldly soore.
     2849
And over al this yet seyde he muchel moore
     2850
To this effect, ful wisely to enhorte
     2851
The peple that they sholde hem reconforte.
     2852
Duc theseus, with al his bisy cure, Page  45
     2853
Caste now wher that the sepulture
     2854
Of goode arcite may best ymaked be,
     2855
And eek moost honurable in his degree.
     2856
And at the laste he took conclusioun
     2857
That ther as first arcite and palamoun
     2858
Hadden for love the bataille hem bitwene,
     2859
That in that selve grove, swoote and grene,
     2860
Ther as he hadde his amorouse desires,
     2861
His compleynte, and for love his hoote fires,
     2862
He wolde make a fyr in which the office
     2863
Funeral he myghte al accomplice.
     2864
And leet comande anon to hakke and hewe
     2865
The okes olde, and leye hem on a rewe
     2866
In colpons wel arrayed for to brenne.
     2867
His officers with swifte feet they renne
     2868
And ryde anon at his comandement.
     2869
And after this, theseus hath ysent
     2870
After a beere, and it al over spradde
     2871
With clooth of gold, the richeste that he hadde.
     2872
And of the same suyte he cladde arcite;
     2873
Upon his hondes hadde he gloves white,
     2874
Eek on his heed a coroune of laurer grene,
     2875
And in his hond a swerd ful bright and kene.
     2876
He leyde hym, bare the visage, on the beere;
     2877
Therwith he weep that pitee was to heere.
     2878
And for the peple sholde seen hym alle,
     2879
Whan it was day, he broghte hym to the halle,
     2880
That roreth of the criyng and the soun.
     2881
Tho cam this woful theban palamoun,
     2882
With flotery berd and ruggy, asshy heeres,
     2883
In clothes blake, ydropped al with teeres;
     2884
And, passynge othere of wepynge, emelye,
     2885
The rewefulleste of al the compaignye.
     2886
In as muche as the servyce sholde be
     2887
The moore noble and riche in his degree,
     2888
Duc theseus leet forth thre steedes brynge,
     2889
That trapped were in steel al gliterynge,
     2890
And covered with the armes of daun arcite.
     2891
Upon thise steedes, that weren grete and white,
     2892
Ther seten folk, of whiche oon baar his sheeld,
     2893
Another his spere up on his hondes heeld,
     2894
The thridde baar with hym his bowe turkeys
     2895
(of brend gold was the caas and eek the harneys);
     2896
And riden forth a paas with sorweful cheere
     2897
Toward the grove, as ye shul after heere.
     2898
The nobleste of the grekes that ther were
     2899
Upon hir shuldres caryeden the beere,
     2900
With slakke paas, and eyen rede and wete,
     2901
Thurghout the citee by the maister strete,
     2902
That sprad was al with blak, and wonder hye
     2903
Right of the same is the strete ywrye.
     2904
Upon the right hond wente olde egeus,
     2905
And on that oother syde duc theseus,
     2906
With vessels in hir hand of gold ful fyn,
     2907
Al ful of hony, milk, and blood, and wyn;
     2908
Eek palamon, with ful greet compaignye;
     2909
And after that cam woful emelye,
     2910
With fyr in honde, as was that tyme the gyse,
     2911
To do the office of funeral servyse.
     2912
Heigh labour and ful greet apparaillynge
     2913
Was at the service and the fyr-makynge,
     2914
That with his grene top the hevene raughte;
     2915
And twenty fadme of brede the armes straughte --
     2916
This is to seyn, the bowes weren so brode.
     2917
Of stree first ther was leyd ful many a lode.
     2918
But how the fyr was maked upon highte,
     2919
Ne eek the names that the trees highte,
     2920
As ook, firre, birch, aspe, alder, holm, popler,
     2921
Wylugh, elm, plane, assh, box, chasteyn, lynde, laurer,
     2922
Mapul, thorn, bech, hasel, ew, whippeltree, --
     2923
How they weren feld, shal nat be toold for me;
     2924
Ne hou the goddes ronnen up and doun,
     2925
Disherited of hire habitacioun,
     2926
In which they woneden in reste and pees,
     2927
Nymphes, fawnes and amadrides;
     2928
Ne hou the beestes and the briddes alle
     2929
Fledden for fere, whan the wode was falle;
     2930
Ne how the ground agast was of the light,
     2931
That was nat wont to seen the sonne bright;
     2932
Ne how the fyr was couched first with stree,
     2933
And thanne with drye stikkes cloven a thre,
     2934
And thanne with grene wode and spicerye,
     2935
And thanne with clooth of gold and with perrye,
     2936
And gerlandes, hangynge with ful many a flour;
     2937
The mirre, th' encens, with al so greet odour;
     2938
Ne how arcite lay among al this,
     2939
Ne what richesse aboute his body is;
     2940
Ne how that emelye, as was the gyse,
     2941
Putte in the fyr of funeral servyse;
     2942
Ne how she swowned whan men made the fyr,
     2943
Ne what she spak, ne what was hir desir;
     2944
Ne what jeweles men in the fyre caste,
     2945
Whan that the fyr was greet and brente faste;
     2946
Ne how somme caste hir sheeld, and somme hir spere,
     2947
And of hire vestimentz, whiche that they were,
     2948
And coppes fulle of wyn, and milk, and blood,
     2949
Into the fyr, that brente as it were wood;
     2950
Ne how the grekes, with an huge route,
     2951
Thries riden al the fyr aboute
     2952
Upon the left hand, with a loud shoutynge,
     2953
And thries with hir speres claterynge;
     2954
And thries how the ladyes gonne crye; Page  46
     2955
Ne how that lad was homward emelye;
     2956
Ne how arcite is brent to asshen colde;
     2957
Ne how that lyche-wake was yholde
     2958
Al thilke nyght; ne how the grekes pleye
     2959
The wake-pleyes, ne kepe I nat to seye;
     2960
Who wrastleth best naked with oille enoynt,
     2961
Ne who that baar hym best, in no disjoynt.
     2962
I wol nat tellen eek how that they goon
     2963
Hoom til atthenes, whan the pley is doon;
     2964
But shortly to the point thanne wol I wende,
     2965
And maken of my longe tale an ende.
     2966
By processe and by lengthe of certeyn yeres,
     2967
Al stynted is the moornynge and the teres
     2968
Of grekes, by oon general assent.
     2969
Thanne semed me ther was a parlement
     2970
At atthenes, upon certein pointz and caas;
     2971
Among the whiche pointz yspoken was,
     2972
To have with certein contrees alliaunce,
     2973
And have fully of thebans obeisaunce.
     2974
For which this noble theseus anon
     2975
Leet senden after gentil palamon,
     2976
Unwist of hym what was the cause and why;
     2977
But in his blake clothes sorwefully
     2978
He cam at his comandement in hye.
     2979
Tho sente theseus for emelye.
     2980
Whan they were set, and hust was al the place,
     2981
And theseus abiden hadde a space
     2982
Er any word cam fram his wise brest,
     2983
His eyen sette he ther as was his lest.
     2984
And with a sad visage he siked stille,
     2985
And after that right thus he seyde his wille:
     2986
The firste moevere of the cause above,
     2987
Whan he first made the faire cheyne of love,
     2988
Greet was th' effect, and heigh was his entente.
     2989
Wel wiste he why, and what thereof he mente;
     2990
For with that faire cheyne of love he bond
     2991
The fyr, the eyr, the water, and the lond
     2992
In certeyn boundes, that they may nat flee.
     2993
That same prince and that moevere, quod he,
     2994
Hath stablissed in this wrecched world adoun
     2995
Certeyne dayes and duracioun
     2996
To al that is engendred in this place,
     2997
Over the whiche day they may nat pace,
     2998
Al mowe they yet tho dayes wel abregge.
     2999
Ther nedeth noght noon auctoritee t' allegge,
     3000
For it is preeved by experience,
     3001
But that me list declaren my sentence.
     3002
Thanne may men by this ordre wel discerne
     3003
That thilke moevere stable is and eterne.
     3004
Wel may men knowe, but it be a fool,
     3005
That every part dirryveth from his hool;
     3006
For nature hath nat taken his bigynnyng
     3007
Of no partie or cantel of a thyng,
     3008
But of a thyng that parfit is and stable,
     3009
Descendynge so til it be corrumpable.
     3010
And therfore, of his wise purveiaunce,
     3011
He hath so wel biset his ordinaunce,
     3012
That speces of thynges and progressiouns
     3013
Shullen enduren by successiouns,
     3014
And nat eterne, withouten any lye.
     3015
This maystow understonde and seen at ye.
     3016
Loo the ook, that hath so long a norisshynge
     3017
From tyme that it first bigynneth to sprynge,
     3018
And hath so long a lif, as we may see,
     3019
Yet at the laste wasted is the tree.
     3020
Considereth eek how that the harde stoon
     3021
Under oure feet, on which we trede and goon,
     3022
Yet wasteth it as it lyth by the weye.
     3023
The brode ryver somtyme wexeth dreye;
     3024
The grete tounes se we wane and wende.
     3025
Thanne may ye se that al this thyng hath ende.
     3026
Of man and womman seen we wel also
     3027
That nedes, in oon of thise termes two,
     3028
This is to seyn, in youthe or elles age,
     3029
He moot be deed, the kyng as shal a page;
     3030
Som in his bed, som in the depe see,
     3031
Som in the large feeld, as men may see;
     3032
Ther helpeth noght, al goth that ilke weye.
     3033
Thanne may I seyn that al this thyng moot deye.
     3034
What maketh this but juppiter, the kyng,
     3035
That is prince and cause of alle thyng,
     3036
Convertynge al unto his propre welle
     3037
From which it is dirryved, sooth to telle?
     3038
And heer-agayns no creature on lyve,
     3039
Of no degree, availleth for to stryve.
     3040
Thanne is it wysdom, as it thynketh me,
     3041
To maken vertu of necessitee,
     3042
And take it weel that we may nat eschue,
     3043
And namely that to us alle is due.
     3044
And whoso gruccheth ought, he dooth folye,
     3045
And rebel is to hym that al may gye.
     3046
And certeinly a man hath moost honour
     3047
To dyen in his excellence and flour,
     3048
Whan he is siker of his goode name;
     3049
Thanne hath he doon his freend, ne hym, no shame.
     3050
And gladder oghte his freend been of his deeth,
     3051
Whan with honour up yolden is his breeth,
     3052
Than whan his name apalled is for age,
     3053
For al forgeten is his vassellage.
     3054
Thanne is it best, as for a worthy fame,
     3055
To dyen whan that he is best of name.
     3056
The contrarie of al this is wilfulnesse.
     3057
Why grucchen we, why have we hevynesse,
     3058
That goode arcite, of chivalrie the flour,
     3059
Departed is with duetee and honour
     3060
Out of this foule prisoun of this lyf? Page  47
     3061
Why grucchen heere his cosyn and his wyf
     3062
Of his welfare, that loved hem so weel?
     3063
Kan he hem thank? nay, God woot, never a deel,
     3064
That both his soule and eek hemself offende,
     3065
And yet they mowe hir lustes nat amende.
     3066
What may I conclude of this longe serye,
     3067
But after wo I rede us to be merye,
     3068
And thanken juppiter of al his grace?
     3069
And er that we departen from this place
     3070
I rede that we make of sorwes two
     3071
O parfit joye, lastynge everemo.
     3072
And looketh now, wher moost sorwe is herinne,
     3073
Ther wol we first amenden and bigynne.
     3074
Suster, quod he, this is my fulle assent,
     3075
With al th' avys heere of my parlement,
     3076
That gentil palamon, youre owene knyght,
     3077
That serveth yow with wille herte, and myght,
     3078
And ever hath doon syn ye first hym knewe,
     3079
That ye shul of youre grace upon hym rewe,
     3080
And taken hym for housbonde and for lord.
     3081
Lene me youre hond, for this is oure accord.
     3082
Lat se now of youre wommanly pitee.
     3083
He is kynges brother sone, pardee;
     3084
And though he were a povre bacheler,
     3085
Syn he hath served yow so many a yeer,
     3086
And had for yow so greet adversitee,
     3087
It moste been considered, leeveth me;
     3088
For gentil mercy oghte to passen right.
     3089
Thanne seyde he thus to palamon the knight:
     3090
I trowe ther nedeth litel sermonyng
     3091
To make yow assente to this thyng.
     3092
Com neer, and taak youre lady by the hond.
     3093
Bitwixen hem was maad anon the bond
     3094
That highte matrimoigne or mariage,
     3095
By al the conseil and the baronage.
     3096
And thus with alle blisse and melodye
     3097
Hath palamon ywedded emelye.
     3098
And god, that al this wyde world hath wroght,
     3099
Sende hym his love that hath it deere aboght;
     3100
For now is palamon in alle wele,
     3101
Lyvynge in blisse, in richesse, and in heele,
     3102
And emelye hym loveth so tendrely,
     3103
And he hire serveth al so gentilly,
     3104
That nevere was ther no word hem bitwene
     3105
Of jalousie or any oother teene.
     3106
Thus endeth palamon and emelye;
     3107
And God save al this faire compaignye! amen.
     3108