The Canterbury tales
Geoffrey Chaucer
F.N. Robinson

Part VI

Fro boloigne is this erl of panyk come,
     939
Of which the fame up sprang to moore and lesse,
     940
And to the peples eres, alle and some,
     941
Was kouth eek that a newe markysesse
     942
He with hym broghte, in swich pompe and richesse
     943
That nevere was ther seyn with mannes ye
     944
So noble array in al west lumbardye.
     945
The markys, which that shoop and knew al this,
     946
Er that this erl was come, sente his message
     947
For thilke sely povre grisildis;
     948
And she with humble herte and glad visage,
     949
Nat with no swollen thoght in hire corage,
     950
Cam at his heste, and on hire knees hire sette,
     951
And reverently and wisely she hym grette.
     952
Grisilde, quod he, my wyl is outrely,
     953
This mayden, that shal wedded been to me,
     954
Received be to-morwe as roially
     955
As it possible is in myn hous to be,
     956
And eek that every wight in his degree
     957
Have his estaat, in sittyng and servyse
     958
And heigh plesaunce, as I kan best devyse.
     959
I have no wommen suffisaunt, certayn,
     960
The chambres for t' arraye in ordinaunce
     961
After my lust, and therfore wolde I fayn
     962
That thyn were al swich manere governaunce.
     963
Thou knowest eek of old al my plesaunce;
     964
Thogh thyn array be badde and yvel biseye,
     965
Do thou thy devoir at the leeste weye.
     966
Nat oonly, lord, that I am glad, quod she,
     967
To doon youre lust, but I desire also
     968
Yow for to serve and plese in my degree Page  112
     969
Withouten feyntyng, and shal everemo;
     970
Ne nevere, for no wele ne no wo,
     971
Ne shal the goost withinne myn herte stente
     972
To love yow best with al my trewe entente.
     973
And with that word she gan the hous to dighte,
     974
And tables for to sette, and beddes make;
     975
And peyned hire to doon al that she myghte,
     976
Preyynge the chambereres, for goddes sake,
     977
To hasten hem, and faste swepe and shake;
     978
And she, the mooste servysable of alle,
     979
Hath every chambre arrayed and his halle.
     980
Abouten undren gan this erl alighte,
     981
That with hym broghte thise noble children tweye,
     982
For which the peple ran to seen the sighte
     983
Of hire array, so richely biseye;
     984
And thanne at erst amonges hem they seye
     985
That walter was no fool, thogh that hym leste
     986
To chaunge his wyf, for it was for the beste.
     987
For she is fairer, as they deemen alle,
     988
That is grisilde, and moore tendre of age,
     989
And fairer fruyt bitwene hem sholde falle,
     990
And moore plesant, for hire heigh lynage.
     991
Hir brother eek so fair was of visage
     992
That hem to seen the peple hath caught plesaunce,
     993
Commendynge now the markys governaunce.
     994
O stormy peple! unsad and evere untrewe!
     995
Ay undiscreet and chaungynge as a fane!
     996
Delitynge evere in rumbul that is newe,
     997
For lyk the moone ay wexe ye and wane!
     998
Ay ful of clappyng, deere ynogh a jane!
     999
Youre doom is fals, youre constance preeveth;
     1000
A ful greet fool is he that on yow leeveth.
     1001
Thus seyden sadde folk in that citee,
     1002
Whan that the peple gazed up and doun;
     1003
For they were glad, right for the noveltee,
     1004
To han a newe lady of hir toun.
     1005
Namoore of this make I now mencioun,
     1006
But to grisilde agayn wol I me dresse,
     1007
And telle hir constance and hir bisynesse. --
     1008
Ful bisy was grisilde in every thyng
     1009
That to the feeste was apertinent.
     1010
Right noght was she abayst of hire clothyng,
     1011
Thogh it were rude and somdeel eek torent;
     1012
But with glad cheere to the yate is went
     1013
With oother folk, to greete the markysesse,
     1014
And after that dooth forth hire bisynesse.
     1015
With so glad chiere his gestes she receyveth,
     1016
And konnyngly, everich in his degree,
     1017
That no defaute no man aperceyveth,
     1018
But ay they wondren what she myghte bee
     1019
That in so povre array was for to see,
     1020
And koude swich honour and reverence,
     1021
And worthily they preisen hire prudence.
     1022
In al this meene while she ne stente
     1023
This mayde and eek hir brother to commende
     1024
With al hir herte, in ful benyngne entente,
     1025
So wel that no man koude hir pris amende.
     1026
But atte laste, whan that thise lordes wende
     1027
To sitten doun to mete, he gan to calle
     1028
Grisilde, as she was bisy in his halle.
     1029
Grisilde, quod he, as it were in his pley,
     1030
How liketh thee my wyf and hire beautee?
     1031
Right wel, quod she, my lord; for, in good fey,
     1032
A fairer saugh I nevere noon than she.
     1033
I prey to God yeve hire prosperitee;
     1034
And so hope I that he wol to yow sende
     1035
Plesance ynogh unto youre lyves ende.
     1036
O thyng biseke I yow, and warne also,
     1037
That ye ne prikke with no tormentynge
     1038
This tendre mayden, as ye han doon mo;
     1039
For she is fostred in hire norissynge
     1040
Moore tendrely, and, to my supposynge,
     1041
She koude nat adversitee endure
     1042
As koude a povre fostred creature.
     1043
And whan this walter saugh hire pacience,
     1044
Hir glade chiere, and no malice at al,
     1045
And he so ofte had doon to hire offence,
     1046
And she ay sad and constant as a wal,
     1047
Continuynge evere hire innocence overal,
     1048
This sturdy markys gan his herte dresse
     1049
To rewen upon hire wyfly stedfastnesse.
     1050
This is ynogh, grisilde myn, quod he;
     1051
Be now namoore agast ne yvele apayed.
     1052
I have thy feith and thy benyngnytee,
     1053
As wel as evere womman was, assayed,
     1054
In greet estaat, and povreliche arrayed.
     1055
Now knowe I, dere wyf, thy stedfastnesse, --
     1056
And hire in armes took and gan hire kesse.
     1057
And she for wonder took of it no keep;
     1058
She herde nat what thyng he to hire seyde; Page  113
     1059
She ferde as she had stert out of a sleep,
     1060
Til she out of hire mazednesse abreyde.
     1061
Grisilde, quod he, by god, that for us deyde,
     1062
Thou art my wyf, ne noon oother I have,
     1063
Ne nevere hadde, as God my soule save!
     1064
This is thy doghter, which thou hast supposed
     1065
To be my wyf; that oother feithfully
     1066
Shal be myn heir, as I have ay disposed;
     1067
Thou bare hym in thy body trewely.
     1068
At boloigne have I kept hem prively;
     1069
Taak hem agayn, for now maystow nat seye
     1070
That thou hast lorn noon of thy children tweye.
     1071
And folk that ootherweys han seyd of me,
     1072
I warne hem wel that I have doon this deede
     1073
For no malice, ne for no crueltee,
     1074
But for t' assaye in thee thy wommanheede,
     1075
And nat to sleen my children -- God forbeede! --
     1076
But for to kepe hem pryvely and stille,
     1077
Til I thy purpos knewe and al thy wille.
     1078
Whan she this herde, aswowne doun she falleth
     1079
For pitous joye, and after hire swownynge
     1080
She bothe hire yonge children to hire calleth,
     1081
And in hire armes, pitously wepynge,
     1082
Embraceth hem, and tendrely kissynge
     1083
Ful lyk a mooder, with hire salte teeres
     1084
She bathed bothe hire visage and hire heeres.
     1085
O which a pitous thyng it was to se
     1086
Hir swownyng, and hire humble voys to heere!
     1087
Grauntmercy, lord, God thanke it yow, quod she,
     1088
That ye han saved me my children deere!
     1089
Now rekke I nevere to been deed right heere;
     1090
Sith I stonde in youre love and in youre grace,
     1091
No fors of deeth, ne whan my spirit pace!
     1092
O tendre, o deere, o yonge children myne!
     1093
Youre woful mooder wende stedfastly
     1094
That crueel houndes or som foul vermyne
     1095
Hadde eten yow; but god, of his mercy,
     1096
And youre benyngne fader tendrely
     1097
Hath doon yow kept, -- and in that same stounde
     1098
Al sodeynly she swapte adoun to grounde,
     1099
And in hire swough so sadly holdeth she
     1100
Hire children two, whan she gan hem t' embrace,
     1101
That with greet sleighte and greet difficultee
     1102
The children from hire arm they gonne arace.
     1103
O many a teere on many a pitous face
     1104
Doun ran of hem that stooden hire bisyde;
     1105
Unnethe abouten hire myghte they abyde.
     1106
Walter hire gladeth, and hire sorwe slaketh;
     1107
She riseth up, abaysed, from hire traunce,
     1108
And every wight hire joye and feeste maketh
     1109
Til she hath caught agayn hire contenaunce.
     1110
Walter hire dooth so feithfully plesaunce
     1111
That it was deyntee for to seen the cheere
     1112
Bitwixe hem two, now they been met yfeere.
     1113
Thise ladyes, whan that they hir tyme say,
     1114
Han taken hire and into chambre gon,
     1115
And strepen hire out of hire rude array,
     1116
And in a clooth of gold that brighte shoon,
     1117
With a coroune of many a riche stoon
     1118
Upon hire heed, they into halle hire broghte,
     1119
And ther she was honured as hire oghte.
     1120
Thus hath this pitous day a blisful ende,
     1121
For every man and womman dooth his myght
     1122
This day in murthe and revel to dispende
     1123
Til on the welkne shoon the sterres lyght.
     1124
For moore solempne in every mannes syght
     1125
This feste was, and gretter of costage,
     1126
Than was the revel of hire mariage.
     1127
Ful many a yeer in heigh prosperitee
     1128
Lyven thise two in concord and in reste,
     1129
And richely his doghter maryed he
     1130
Unto a lord, oon of the worthieste
     1131
Of al ytaille; and thanne in pees and reste
     1132
His wyves fader in his court he kepeth,
     1133
Til that the soule out of his body crepeth.
     1134
His sone succedeth in his heritage
     1135
In reste and pees, after his fader day,
     1136
And fortunat was eek in mariage,
     1137
Al putte he nat his wyf in greet assay.
     1138
This world is nat so strong, it is no nay,
     1139
As it hath been in olde tymes yoore,
     1140
And herkneth what this auctour seith therfoore.
     1141
This storie is seyd, nat for that wyves sholde
     1142
Folwen grisilde as in humylitee,
     1143
For it were inportable, though they wolde;
     1144
But for that every wight, in his degree,
     1145
Sholde be constant in adversitee
     1146
As was grisilde; therfore petrak writeth
     1147
This storie, which with heigh stile he enditeth. Page  114
     1148
For, sith a womman was so pacient
     1149
Unto a mortal man, wel moore us oghte
     1150
Receyven al in gree that God us sent;
     1151
For greet skile is, he preeve that he wroghte.
     1152
But he ne tempteth no man that he boghte,
     1153
As seith seint jame, if ye his pistel rede;
     1154
He preeveth folk al day, it is no drede,
     1155
And suffreth us, as for oure excercise,
     1156
With sharpe scourges of adversitee
     1157
Ful ofte to be bete in sondry wise;
     1158
Nat for to knowe oure wyl, for certes he,
     1159
Er we were born, knew al oure freletee;
     1160
And for oure beste is al his governaunce.
     1161
Lat us thanne lyve in vertuous suffraunce.
     1162
But o work lordynges, herkneth er I go:
     1163
It were ful hard to fynde now-a-dayes
     1164
In al a toun grisildis thre or two;
     1165
For if that they were put to swiche assayes,
     1166
The gold of hem hath now so badde alayes
     1167
With bras, that thogh the coyne be fair at ye,
     1168
It wolde rather breste a-two than plye.
     1169
For which heere, for the wyves love of bathe --
     1170
Whos lyf and al hire secte God mayntene
     1171
In heigh maistrie, and elles were it scathe --
     1172
I wol with lusty herte, fressh and grene,
     1173
Seyn yow a song to glade yow, I wene;
     1174
And lat us stynte of ernestful matere.
     1175
Herkneth my song that seith in this manere:
     1176