The Canterbury tales
Geoffrey Chaucer
F.N. Robinson

The Clerk's Tale

Part I

Ther is, right at the west syde of ytaille,
     57
Doun at the roote of vesulus the colde,
     58
A lusty playn, habundant of vitaille,
     59
Where many a tour and toun thou mayst biholde,
     60
That founded were in tyme of fadres olde,
     61
And many another delitable sighte,
     62
And saluces this noble contree highte.
     63
A markys whilom lord was of that lond,
     64
As were his worthy eldres hym bifore;
     65
And obeisant, ay redy to his hond,
     66
Were alle his liges, bothe lasse and moore.
     67
Thus in delit he lyveth, and hath doon yoore,
     68
Biloved and drad, thurgh favour of fortune,
     69
Bothe of his lordes and of his commune. Page  102
     70
Therwith he was, to speke as of lynage,
     71
The gentillest yborn of lumbardye,
     72
A fair persone, and strong, and yong of age,
     73
And ful of honour and of curteisye;
     74
Discreet ynogh his contree for to gye,
     75
Save in somme thynges that he was to blame;
     76
And walter was this yonge lordes name.
     77
I blame hym thus, that he considered noght
     78
In tyme comynge what myghte hym bityde,
     79
But on his lust present was al his thoght,
     80
As for to hauke and hunte on every syde.
     81
Wel ny alle othere cures leet he slyde,
     82
And eek he nolde -- and that was worst of alle --
     83
Wedde no wyf, for noght that may bifalle.
     84
Oonly that point his peple bar so soore
     85
That flokmeele on a day they to hym wente,
     86
And oon of he, that wisest was of loore --
     87
Or elles that the lord best wolde assente
     88
That he sholde telle hym what his peple mente,
     89
Or elles koude he shewe wel swich mateere --
     90
He to the markys seyde as ye shul heere:
     91
O noble markys, youre humanitee
     92
Asseureth us and yeveth us hardinesse,
     93
As ofte as tyme is of necessitee,
     94
That we to yow mowe telle oure hevynesse.
     95
Accepteth, lord, now of youre gentilesse
     96
That we with pitous herte unto yow pleyne,
     97
And lat youre eres nat my voys desdeyne.
     98
Al have I noght to doone in this mateere
     99
Moore than another man hath in this place,
     100
Yet for as muche as ye, my lord so deere,
     101
Han alwey shewed me favour and grace
     102
I dar the bettre aske of yow a space
     103
Of audience, to shewen oure requeste,
     104
And ye, my lord, to doon right as yow leste.
     105
For certes, lord, so wel us liketh yow
     106
And al youre werk, and evere han doon, that we
     107
Ne koude nat us self devysen how
     108
We myghte lyven in moore felicitee,
     109
Save o thyng, lord, if it youre wille be,
     110
That for to been a wedded man yow leste;
     111
Thanne were youre peple in sovereyn hertes reste.
     112
Boweth youre nekke under that blisful yok
     113
Of sovereynetee, noght of servyse,
     114
Which that men clepe spousaille or wedlok;
     115
And thanketh, lord, among youre thoghtes wyse
     116
How that oure dayes passe in sondry wyse;
     117
For thogh we slepe, or wake, or rome, or ryde,
     118
Ay fleeth the tyme; it nyl no man abyde.
     119
And thogh youre grene youthe floure as yit,
     120
In crepeth age alwey, as stille as stoon,
     121
And deeth manaceth every age, and smyt
     122
In ech estaat, for ther escapeth noon;
     123
And al so certein as we knowe echoon
     124
That we shul deye, as uncerteyn we alle
     125
Been of that day whan deeth shal on us falle
     126
Accepteth thanne of us the trewe entente,
     127
That nevere yet refuseden thyn heeste,
     128
And we wol, lord, if that ye wole assente,
     129
Chese yow a wyf, in short tyme atte leeste,
     130
Born of the gentilleste and of the meeste
     131
Of al this land, so that it oghte seme
     132
Honour to God and yow, as we kan deeme.
     133
Delivere us out of al this bisy drede,
     134
And taak a wyf, for hye goddes sake!
     135
For if it so bifelle, as God forbede,
     136
That thurgh youre deeth youre lynage sholde slake,
     137
And that a straunge successour sholde take
     138
Youre heritage, o, wo were us alyve!
     139
Wherfore we pray you hastily to wyve.
     140
Hir meeke preyere and hir pitous cheer
     141
Made the markys herte han pitee.
     142
Ye wol, quod he, myn owene peple deere,
     143
To that I nevere erst thoughte streyne me.
     144
I me rejoysed of my liberte.
     145
That seelde tyme is founde in mariage;
     146
Ther I was free, I moot been in servage.
     147
But nathelees I se youre trewe entente,
     148
And truste upon youre wit, and have doon ay;
     149
Wherfore of my free wyl I wole assente
     150
To wedde me, as soone as evere I may.
     151
But ther as ye han profred me to-day
     152
To chese me a wyf, I yow relesse
     153
That choys, and prey yow of that profre cesse.
     154
For God it woot, that children ofte been
     155
Unlyk hir worthy eldress hem bifore;
     156
Bountee comth al of god, nat of the streen
     157
Of which they been engendred and ybore.
     158
I truste in goddes bountee, and therfore
     159
My mariage and myn estaat and reste
     160
I hym bitake; he may doon as hym leste.
     161
Lat me allone in chesynge of my wyf, --
     162
That charge upon my bak I wole endure. Page  103
     163
But I yow preye, and charge upon youre lyf,
     164
That what wyf that I take, ye me assure
     165
To worshipe hire, whil that hir lyf may dure,
     166
In word and werk, bothe heere and everywheere,
     167
As she and emperoures doghter weere.
     168
And forthermoore, this shal ye swere, that ye
     169
Agayn my choys shul neither grucche ne stryve;
     170
For sith I shal forgoon my libertee
     171
At youre requeste, as evere moot I thryve,
     172
Ther as myn herte is set, ther wol I wyve;
     173
And but ye wole assente in swich manere,
     174
I prey yow, speketh namoore of this matere.
     175
With hertely wyl they sworen and assenten
     176
To al this thyng, ther seyde no wight nay;
     177
Bisekynge hym of grace, er that they wenten,
     178
That he wolde graunten hem a certein day
     179
Of his spousaille, as soone as evere he may;
     180
For yet alwey the peple somwhat dredde,
     181
Lest that the markys no wyf wolde wedde.
     182
He graunted hem a day, swich as hym leste,
     183
On which he wolde be wedded sikerly.
     184
And seyde he dide al this at hir requeste.
     185
And they, with humble entente, buxomly,
     186
Knelynge upon hir knees ful reverently,
     187
Hym thonken alle; and thus they han an ende
     188
Of hire entente, and hoom agayn they wende.
     189
And heerupon he to his officeres
     190
Comaundeth for the feste to purveye,
     191
And to his privee knyghtes and squieres
     192
Swich charge yaf as hym liste on hem leye;
     193
And they to his comandement obeye,
     194
And ech of hem dooth al his diligence
     195
To doon unto the feeste reverence.
     196
Explicit prima pars

Incipit secunda pars

Noght fer fro thilke paleys honurable,
     197
Wher as this markys shoop his mariage,
     198
There stood a throop, of site delitable,
     199
In which that povre folk of that village
     200
Hadden hir beestes and hir herbergage,
     201
And of hire labour tooke hir sustenance,
     202
After that the erthe yaf hem habundance.
     203
Amonges thise povre folk ther dwelte a man
     204
Which that was holden povrest of hem alle;
     205
But hye God somtyme senden kan
     206
His grace into litel oxes stalle;
     207
Janicula men of that throop hym calle.
     208
A doghter hadde he, fair ynogh to sighte,
     209
And grisildis this yonge mayden highte.
     210
But for to speke of vertuous beautee,
     211
Thanne was she oon the faireste under sonne;
     212
For povreliche yfostred up was she,
     213
No likerous lust was thurgh hire herte yronne.
     214
Wel ofter of the welle than of the tonne
     215
She drank, and for she wolde vertu plese,
     216
She knew wel labour, but noon ydel ese.
     217
But thogh this mayde tendre were of age,
     218
Yet in the brest of hire virginitee
     219
Ther was enclosed rype and sad corage;
     220
And in greet reverence and charitee
     221
Hir olde povre fader fostred shee.
     222
A fewe sheep, spynnynge, on feeld she kepte;
     223
She wolde noght been ydel til she slepte.
     224
And whan she homward cam, she wolde brynge
     225
Wortes or othere herbes tymes ofte,
     226
The whiche she shredde and seeth for hir lyvynge,
     227
And made hir bed ful hard and nothyng softe;
     228
And ay she kepte hir fadres lyf on-lofte
     229
With everich obeisaunce and diligence
     230
That child may doon to fadres reverence.
     231
Upon grisilde, this povre creature,
     232
Ful ofte sithe this markys sette his ye
     233
As he on huntyng rood paraventure;
     234
And whan it fil that he myghte hire espye,
     235
He noght with wantown lookyng of folye
     236
His eyen caste on hire, but in sad wyse
     237
Upon hir chiere he wolde hym ofte avyse,
     238
Commendynge in his herte hir wommanhede,
     239
And eek hir verty, passynge any wight
     240
Of so yong age, as wel in chiere as dede.
     241
For thogh the peple have no greet insight
     242
In verty, he considered ful right
     243
Hir bountee, and disposed that he wolde
     244
Wedde hire oonly, if evere he wedde sholde.
     245
The day of weddyng cam, but no wight kan
     246
Telle what womman that it sholde be;
     247
For which merveille wondred many a man,
     248
And seyden, whan they were in privetee,
     249
Wol nat oure lord yet leve his vanytee?
     250
Wol he nat wedde? allas; allas, the while!
     251
Why wole he thus hymself and us bigile? Page  104
     252
But nathelees this markys hath doon make
     253
Of gemmes, set in gold and in asure,
     254
Brooches and rynges, for grisildis sake;
     255
And of hir clothyng took he the mesure
     256
By a mayde lyk to hire stature,
     257
And eek of othere aornementes alle
     258
That unto swich a weddyng sholde falle.
     259
The time of undren of the same day
     260
Approcheth, that this weddyng sholde be;
     261
And al the paleys put was in array,
     262
Bothe halle and chambres, ech in his degree;
     263
Houses of office stuffed with plentee
     264
Ther maystow seen, of deyntevous vitaille
     265
That may be founde as fer al last ytaille.
     266
This roial markys, richely arrayed,
     267
Lordes and ladyes in his compaignye,
     268
The whiche that to the feeste weren yprayed,
     269
And of his retenue the bachelrye,
     270
With manya soun of sondry melodye,
     271
Unto the village of the which I tolde,
     272
In this array the righte wey han holde.
     273
Grisilde of this, God woot, ful innocent,
     274
That for hire shapen was al this array,
     275
To fecchen water at a welle is went,
     276
And cometh hoom as soone as ever she may;
     277
For wel she hadde herd seyd that thilke day
     278
The markys sholde wedde, and if she myghte,
     279
She wolde fayn han seyn som of that sighte.
     280
She thoghte, I wole with othere maydens stonde,
     281
That been my felawes, in oure dore and se
     282
The markysesse, and therfore wol I fonde
     283
To doon at hoom, as soone as it may be,
     284
The labour which that longeth unto me;
     285
And thanne I may at leyser hire biholde,
     286
If she this wey unto the castel holde.
     287
And as she wolde over hir thresshfold gon,
     288
The markys cam and gan hire for to calle;
     289
And she set doun hir water pot anon,
     290
Biside the thresshfold, in an oxes stalle,
     291
And doun upon hir knes she gan to falle,
     292
And with sad contenance kneleth stille,
     293
Til she had herd what was the lordes wille.
     294
This thoghtful markys spak unto this mayde
     295
Ful sobrely, and seyde in this manere:
     296
Where is youre fader, o grisildis? he sayde.
     297
And she with reverence, in humble cheere,
     298
Answerde, lord, he is al redy heere.
     299
And in she gooth withouten lenger lette,
     300
And to the markys she hir fader fette.
     301
He by the hand thanne took this olde man,
     302
And seyde thus, whan he hym hadde asyde:
     303
Janicula, I neither may ne kan
     304
Lenger the plesance of myn herte hyde.
     305
If that thou vouche sauf, what so bityde,
     306
Thy doghter wol I take, er that I wende,
     307
As for my wyf, unto hir lyves ende.
     308
Thou lovest me, I woot it wel certeyn,
     309
And art my feithful lige man ybore;
     310
And al that liketh me, I dar wel seyn
     311
It liketh thee, and specially therfore
     312
Tel me that poynt that I have seyd bifore,
     313
If that thou wolt unto that purpos drawe,
     314
To take me as for thy sone-in-lawe.
     315
This sodeyn cas this man astonyed so
     316
That reed he wax; abayst and al quakynge
     317
He stood; unnethes seyde he wordes mo,
     318
But oonly thus: lord, quod he, my willynge
     319
Is as ye wole, ne ayeynes youre likynge
     320
I wol no thyng, ye be my lord so deere;
     321
Right as yow lust, governeth this mateere.
     322
Yet wol I, quod this markys softely,
     323
That in thy chambre I and thou and she
     324
Have a collacioun, and wostow why?
     325
For I wol axe if it hire wille be
     326
To be my wyf, and reule hire after me.
     327
And al this shal be doon in thy presence;
     328
I wol noght speke out of thyn audience.
     329
And in the chambre, whil they were aboute
     330
Hir tretys, which as ye shal after heere,
     331
The peple cam unto the hous withoute,
     332
And wondred hem in how honest manere
     333
And tentifly she kepte hir fader deere.
     334
But outrely grisildis wondre myghte,
     335
For nevere erst ne saugh she swich a sighte.
     336
No wonder is thogh that she were astoned
     337
To seen so greet a gest come in that place;
     338
She nevere was to swiche gestes woned,
     339
For which she looked with ful pale face.
     340
But shortly forth this matere for to chace,
     341
Thise arn the wordes that the markys sayde
     342
To this benigne, verray, feithful mayde.
     343
Grisilde, he seyde, ye shal wel understonde
     344
It liketh to youre fader and to me Page  105
     345
That I yow wedde, and eek it may so stonde,
     346
As I suppose, ye wol that it so be.
     347
But thise demandes axe I first, quod he,
     348
That, sith it shal be doon in hastif wyse,
     349
Wol ye assente, or elles yow avyse?
     350
I seye this, be ye redy with good herte
     351
To al my lust, and that I frely may,
     352
As me best thynketh, do yow laughe or smerte,
     353
And nevere ye to grucche it, nyght ne day?
     354
And eek whan I sey 'ye,' ne sey nat 'nay,'
     355
Neither by word ne frownyng contenance?
     356
Swere this, and heere I swere oure alliance.
     357
Wondrynge upon this word, quakynge for drede,
     358
She seyde, lord, undigne and unworthy
     359
Am I to thilke honour that ye me beede,
     360
But as ye wole youreself, right so wol I.
     361
And heere I swere that nevere willyngly,
     362
In werk ne thogh, I nyl yow disobeye,
     363
For to be deed, though me were looth to deye.
     364
This is ynogh, grisilde myn, quod he.
     365
And forth he gooth, with a ful sobre cheere,
     366
Out at the dore, and after that cam she,
     367
And to the peple he seyde in this manere:
     368
This is my wyf, quod he, that standeth heere.
     369
Honoureth hire and loveth hire, I preye,
     370
Whoso me loveth; ther is namoore to seye.
     371
And for that no thyng of hir olde geere
     372
She sholde brynge into his hous, he bad
     373
That wommen sholde dispoillen hire right theere;
     374
Of which thise ladyes were nat right glad
     375
To handle hir clothes, wherinne she was clad.
     376
But nathelees, this mayde bright of hewe
     377
Fro foot to heed they clothed han al newe.
     378
Hir heris han they kembd, that lay untressed
     379
Ful rudely, and with hir fyngres smale
     380
A corone on hire heed they han ydressed,
     381
And sette hire ful of nowches grete and smale.
     382
Of hire array what sholde I make a tale?
     383
Unnethe the peple hir knew for hire fairnesse,
     384
Whan she translated was in swich richesse.
     385
This markys hath hire spoused with a ryng
     386
Broght for the same cause, and thanne hire sette
     387
Upon an hors, snow-whit and wel amblyng,
     388
And to his paleys, er he lenger lette,
     389
With joyful peple that hire ladde and mette,
     390
Conveyed hire, and thus the day they spende
     391
In revel, til the sonne gan descende.
     392
And shortly forth this tale for to chace,
     393
I seye that to this newe markysesse
     394
God hath swich favour sent hire of his grace,
     395
That it ne semed nat by liklynesse
     396
That she was born and fed in rudenesse,
     397
As in a cote or in an oxe-stalle,
     398
But norissed in an emperoures halle.
     399
To every wight she woxen is so deere
     400
And worshipful that folk ther she was bore,
     401
And from hire birthe knewe hire yeer by yeere,
     402
Unnethe trowed they, -- but dorste han swore --
     403
That to janicle, of which I spak bifore,
     404
She doghter were, for, as by conjecture,
     405
Hem thoughte she was another creature.
     406
For though that evere vertuous was she,
     407
She was encressed in swich excellence
     408
Of thewes goode, yset in heigh bountee,
     409
And so discreet and fair of eloquence,
     410
So benigne and so digne of reverence,
     411
And koude so the peples herte embrace,
     412
That ech hire lovede that looked in hir face.
     413
Noght oonly of saluces in the toun
     414
Publiced was the bountee of hir name,
     415
But eek biside in many a regioun,
     416
If oon seide wel, another seyde the same;
     417
So spradde of hire heighe bountee the fame
     418
That men and wommen, as wel yonge as olde,
     419
Goon to saluce, upon hire to biholde.
     420
Thus walter lowely -- nay, but roially --
     421
Wedded with fortunat honestetee,
     422
In goddes pees lyveth ful esily
     423
At hoom, and outward grace ynogh had he;
     424
And for he saugh that under low degree
     425
Was ofte vertu hid, the peple hym heelde
     426
A prudent man, and that is seyn ful seelde.
     427
Nat oonly this grisildis thurgh hir wit
     428
Koude al the feet of wyfly hoomlinesse,
     429
But eek, whan that the cas required it,
     430
The commune profit koude she redresse.
     431
Ther nas discord, rancour, ne hevynesse
     432
In al that land, that she ne koude apese,
     433
And wisely brynge hem alle in reste and ese.
     434
Though that hire housbonde absent were anon,
     435
If gentil men or othere of hire contree Page  106
     436
Were wrothe, she wolde bryngen hem aton;
     437
So wise and rype wordes hadde she,
     438
And juggementz of so greet equitee,
     439
That she from hevene sent was, as men wende,
     440
Peple to save and every wrong t' amende.
     441
Nat longe tyme after that this grisild
     442
Was wedded, she a doghter hath ybore.
     443
Al had hire levere have born a knave child,
     444
Glad was this markys and the folk therfore;
     445
For though a mayde child coome al bifore,
     446
She may unto a knave child attayne
     447
By liklihede, syn she nys nat bareyne.
     448
Explicit secunda pars.

Incipit tercia pars.

Ther fil, as it bifalleth tymes mo,
     449
Whan that this child had souked but a throwe,
     450
This markys in his herte longeth so
     451
To tempte his wyf, hir sadnesse for to knowe,
     452
That he ne myghte out of his herte throwe
     453
This merveillous desir his wyf t' assaye;
     454
Nedelees, God woot, he thoghte hire for t' affraye.
     455
He hadde assayed hire ynogh bifore,
     456
And foond hire evere good; what neded it
     457
Hire for to tempte, and alwey moore and moore,
     458
Though som men preise it for a subtil wit?
     459
But as for me, I seye that yvele it sit
     460
To assaye a wyf whan that it is no nede,
     461
And putten hire in angwyssh and in drede.
     462
For which this markys wroghte in this manere:
     463
He cam allone a-nyght, ther as she lay,
     464
With stierne face and with ful trouble cheere,
     465
And seyde thus: grisilde, quod he, that day
     466
That I yow took out of youre povere array,
     467
And putte yow in estaat of heigh noblesse, --
     468
Ye have nat that forgeten, as I gesse?
     469
I seye, grisilde, this present dignitee,
     470
In which that I have put yow, as I trowe,
     471
Maketh yow nat foryetful for to be
     472
That I yow took in povre estaat ful lowe,
     473
For any wele ye moot youreselven knowe.
     474
Taak heede of every word that y yow seye;
     475
Ther is no wight that hereth it but we tweye.
     476
Ye woot youreself wel how that ye cam heere
     477
Into this hous, it is nat longe ago;
     478
And though to me that ye be lief and deere,
     479
Unto my gentils ye be no thyng so.
     480
They seyn, to hem it is greet shame and wo
     481
For to be subgetz and been in servage
     482
To thee, that born art of a smal village.
     483
And namely sith thy doghter was ybore
     484
Thise wordes han they spoken, doutelees.
     485
But I desire, as I have doon bifore,
     486
To lyve my lyf with hem in reste and pees.
     487
I may nat in this caas be recchelees;
     488
I moot doon with thy doghter for the beste,
     489
Nat as I wolde, but as my peple leste.
     490
And yet, God woot, this is ful looth to me;
     491
But nathelees withoute youre wityng
     492
I wol nat doon; but this wol I, quod he,
     493
That ye to me assente as in this thyng.
     494
Shewe now youre pacience in youre werkyng,
     495
That ye me highte and swore in youre village
     496
That day that maked was oure mariage.
     497
Whan she had herd al this, she noght ameved
     498
Neither in word, or chiere, or contenaunce;
     499
For, as it semed, she was nat agreved.
     500
She seyde, lord, al lyth in youre plesaunce.
     501
My child and I, with hertely obeisaunce,
     502
Been youres al, and ye mowe save or spille
     503
Youre owene thyng; weketh after youre wille.
     504
Ther may no thyng, God so my soule save,
     505
Liken to yow that may displese me;
     506
Ne I desire no thyng for to have,
     507
Ne drede for to leese, save oonly yee.
     508
This wyl is in myn herte, and ay shal be;
     509
No lengthe of tyme or deeth may this deface,
     510
Ne chaunge my corage to another place.
     511
Glad was this markys of hire answeryng,
     512
But yet he feyned as he were nat so;
     513
Al drery was his cheere and his lookyng,
     514
Whan that he sholde out of the chambre go.
     515
Soone after this, a furlong wey or two,
     516
He prively hath toold al his entente
     517
Unto a man, and to his wyf hym sente.
     518
A maner sergeant was this privee man,
     519
The which that feithful ofte he founden hadde
     520
In thynges grete, and eek swich folk wel kan
     521
Doon execucioun in thynges badde.
     522
The lord knew wel that he hym loved and dradde;
     523
And whan this sergeant wist his lordes wille,
     524
Into the chambre he stalked hym ful stille. Page  107
     525
Madame, he seyde, ye moote foryeve it me,
     526
Though I do thyng to which I am constreyned.
     527
Ye been so wys that ful wel knowe ye
     528
That lordes heestes mowe nat been yfeyned;
     529
They mowe wel been biwailled or compleyned,
     530
But men moote nede unto hire lust obeye,
     531
And so wol I; ther is namoore to seye.
     532
This child I am comanded for to take, --
     533
And spak namoore, but out the child he hente
     534
Despitously, and gan a cheere make
     535
As though he wolde han slayn it er he wente.
     536
Grisildis moot al suffre and al consente;
     537
And as a lamb she sitteth meke and stille,
     538
And leet this crueel sergeant doon his wille.
     539
Suspecious was the diffame of this man,
     540
Suspect his face, suspect his word also;
     541
Suspect the tyme in which he this bigan.
     542
Allas! hir doghter that she loved so,
     543
She wende he wolde han slawen it right tho.
     544
But nathelees she neither weep ne syked,
     545
Conformynge hire to that the markys lyked.
     546
But atte laste to speken she bigan,
     547
And mekely she to the sergeant preyde,
     548
So as he was a worthy gentil man,
     549
That she moste kisse hire child er that it deyde.
     550
And in hir barm this litel child she leyde
     551
With ful sad face, and gan the child to blisse,
     552
And lulled it, and after gan it kisse.
     553
And thus she seyde in hire benigne voys,
     554
Fareweel my child! I shal thee nevere see.
     555
But sith I thee have marked with the croys
     556
Of thilke fader -- blessed moote he be! --
     557
That for us deyde upon a croys of tree,
     558
Thy soule, litel child, I hym bitake,
     559
For this nyght shaltow dyen for my sake.
     560
I trowe that to a norice in this cas
     561
It had been hard this reuthe for to se;
     562
Wel myghte a mooder thanne han cryd allas!
     563
But nathelees so sad stidefast was she
     564
That she endured al adversitee,
     565
And to the sergeant mekely she sayde,
     566
Have heer agayn your litel yonge mayde.
     567
Gooth now, quod she, and dooth my lordes heeste;
     568
But o thyng wol I prey yow of youre grace,
     569
That, but my lord forbad yow, atte leeste
     570
Burieth this litel body in som place
     571
That beestes ne no briddes it torace.
     572
But he no word wol to that purpos seye,
     573
But took the child and wente upon his weye.
     574
This sergeant cam unto his lord ageyn,
     575
And of grisildis wordes and hire cheere
     576
He tolde hym point for point, in short and pleyn,
     577
And hym presenteth with his doghter deere.
     578
Somwhat this lord hadde routhe in his manere,
     579
But nathelees his purpos heeld he stille,
     580
As lordes doon, whan they wol han hir wille;
     581
And bad this sergeant that he pryvely
     582
Sholde this child ful softe wynde and wrappe,
     583
With alle circumstances tendrely,
     584
And carie it in a cofre or in a lappe;
     585
But, upon peyne his heed of for to swappe,
     586
That no man sholde knowe of his entente,
     587
Ne whenne he cam, ne whider that he wente;
     588
But at boloigne to his suster deere,
     589
That thilke tyme of panik was countesse,
     590
He sholde it take, and shewe hire this mateere,
     591
Bisekynge hire to doon hire bisynesse
     592
This child to fostre in alle gentillesse;
     593
And whos child that it was he bad hire hyde
     594
From every wight, for oght that may bityde.
     595
The sergeant gooth, and hath fulfild this thyng;
     596
But to this markys now retourne we.
     597
For now gooth he ful faste ymaginyng
     598
If by his wyves cheere he myghte se,
     599
Or by hire word aperceyve, that she
     600
Were chaunged; but he nevere hire koude fynde
     601
But evere in oon ylike sad and kynde.
     602
As glad, as humble, as bisy in servyse,
     603
And eek in love, as she was wont to be,
     604
Was she to hym in every maner wyse;
     605
Ne of hir doghter noght a word spak she.
     606
Noon accident, for noon adversitee,
     607
Was seyn in hire, ne nevere hir doghter name
     608
Ne nempned she, in ernest nor in game.
     609
Explicit terci pars

Sequitur pars quarta.

In this estaat the passed been foure yeer
     610
Er she with childe was, but, as God wolde,
     611
A knave child she bar by this walter,
     612
Ful gracious and fair for to biholde. Page  108
     613
And whan that folk it to his fader tolde,
     614
Nat oonly he, but al his contree merye
     615
Was for this child, and God they thanke and herye.
     616
Whan it was two yeer old, and fro the brest
     617
Departed of his norice, on a day
     618
This markys caughte yet another lest
     619
To tempte his wyf yet ofter, if he may.
     620
O nedelees was she tempted in assay!
     621
But wedded men ne knowe no mesure,
     622
Whan that they fynde a pacient creature.
     623
Wyf, quod this markys, ye han herd er this,
     624
My peple sikly berth oure mariage;
     625
And namely sith my sone yboren is,
     626
Now is it worse than evere in al oure age.
     627
The murmur sleeth myn herte and my corage,
     628
For to myne eres comth the voys so smerte
     629
That it wel ny destroyed hath myn herte.
     630
Now sey they thus: -- whan walter is agon,
     631
Thanne shal the blood of janicle succede
     632
And been oure lord, for oother have we noon.
     633
Swiche wordes seith my peple, out of drede.
     634
Wel oughte I of swich murmur taken heede;
     635
For certeinly I drede swich sentence,
     636
Though they nat pleyn speke in myn audience.
     637
I wolde lyve in pees, if that I myghte;
     638
Wherfore I am disposed outrely,
     639
As I his suster servede by nyghte,
     640
Right to thenke I to serve hym pryvely.
     641
This warne I yow, that ye nat sodeynly
     642
Out of youreself for no wo sholde outreye;
     643
Beth pacient, and therof I yow preye.
     644
I have, quod she, seyd thys, and evere shal:
     645
I wol no thyng, ne nyl no thyng, certayn,
     646
But as yow list. Naught greveth me at al,
     647
Though that my doughter and my sone be slayn, --
     648
At youre comandement, this is to sayn.
     649
I have noght had no part of children tweyne
     650
But first siknesse, and after, wo and peyne.
     651
Ye been oure lord, dooth with youre owene thyng
     652
Right as yow list; axeth no reed at me.
     653
For as I lefte at hoom al my clothyng,
     654
Whan I first cam to yow, right so, quod she,
     655
Lefte I my wyl and al my libertee,
     656
And took youre clothyng; wherfore I yow preye,
     657
Dooth youre plesaunce, I wol youre lust obeye.
     658
And certes, if I hadde prescience
     659
Youre wyl to knowe, er ye youre lust me tolde,
     660
I wolde it doon withouten necligence;
     661
But now I woot youre lust, and what ye wolde,
     662
Al youre plesance ferme and stable I holde;
     663
For wiste I that my deeth wolde do yow ese,
     664
Right gladly wolde I dyen, yow to plese.
     665
Deth may noght make no comparisoun
     666
Unto youre love. And whan this markys say
     667
The constance of hys wyf, he caste adoun
     668
His eyen two, and wondreth that she may
     669
In pacience suffre al this array;
     670
And forth he goth with drery contenance,
     671
But to his herte it was ful greet plesance.
     672
This ugly sergeant, in the same wyse
     673
That he hire doghter caughte, right so he,
     674
Or worse, if men worse kan devyse,
     675
Hath hent hire sone, that ful was of beautee.
     676
And evere in oon so pacient was she
     677
That she no chiere maade of hevynesse,
     678
But kiste hir sone, and after gan it blesse;
     679
Save this, she preyede hym that, if he myghte,
     680
Hir litel sone he wolde in erthe grave,
     681
His tendre lymes, delicaat to sighte,
     682
Fro foweles and fro beestes for to save.
     683
But she noon answere of hym myghte have.
     684
He wente his wey, as hym no thyng ne roghte;
     685
But to boloigne he tendrely it broghte.
     686
This markys wondred, evere lenger the moore,
     687
Upon hir pacience, and if that he
     688
Ne hadde soothly knowen therbifoore
     689
That parfitly hir children loved she,
     690
He wolde have wend that of som subtiltee,
     691
And of malice, or for crueel corage,
     692
That she hadde suffred this with sad visage.
     693
But wel he knew that next hymself, certayn,
     694
She loved hir children best in every wyse.
     695
But now of wommen wolde I axen fayn
     696
If thise assayes myghte nat suffise?
     697
What koude a sturdy housbonde moore devyse
     698
To preeve hir wyfhod and hir stedefastnesse,
     699
And he continuynge evere in sturdinesse? Page  109
     700
But ther been folk of swich condicion
     701
That whan they have a certein purpos take,
     702
They kan nat stynte of hire entencion,
     703
But, right as they were bounden to a stake,
     704
They wol nat of that firste purpos slake.
     705
Right so this markys fulliche hath purposed
     706
To tempte his wyf as he was first disposed.
     707
He waiteth if by word or contenance
     708
That she to hym was changed of corage;
     709
But nevere koude he fynde variance.
     710
She was ay oon in herte and in visage;
     711
And ay the forther that she was in age,
     712
The moore trewe, if that it were possible,
     713
She was to hym in love, and moore penyble.
     714
For which it semed thus, that of hem two
     715
Ther nas but o wyl; for, as walter leste,
     716
The same lust was hire plesance also.
     717
And, God be thanked, al fil for the beste.
     718
She shewed wel, for no worldly unreste
     719
A wyf, as of hirself, nothing ne sholde
     720
Wille in effect, but as hir housbonde wolde.
     721
The sclaundre of walter ofte and wyde spradde,
     722
That of a crueel herte he wikkedly,
     723
For he a povre womman wedded hadde,
     724
Hath mordred bothe his children prively.
     725
Swich murmur was among hem comunly.
     726
No wonder is, for to the peples ere
     727
Ther cam no word, but that they mordred were.
     728
For which, where as his peple therbifore
     729
Hadde loved hym wel, the sclaundre of his diffame
     730
Made hem that they hym hatede therfore.
     731
To been a mordrere is an hateful name;
     732
But nathelees, for ernest ne for game,
     733
He of his crueel purpos nolde stente;
     734
To tempte his wyf was set al his entente.
     735
Than that his doghter twelve yeer was of age,
     736
He to the court of rome, in subtil wyse
     737
Enformed of his wyl, sente his message,
     738
Comaundynge hem swiche bulles to devyse
     739
As to his crueel purpos may suffyse,
     740
How that the pope, as for his peples reste,
     741
Bad hym to wedde another, if hym leste.
     742
I seye, he bad they sholde countrefete
     743
The popes bulles, makynge mencion
     744
That he hath leve his firste wyf to lete,
     745
As by the popes dispensacion,
     746
To stynte rancour and dissencion
     747
Bitwixe his peple and hym; thus seyde the bulle,
     748
The which they han publiced atte fulle.
     749
The rude peple, as it no wonder is,
     750
Wenden ful wel that it hadde be right so;
     751
But whan thise tidynges came to grisildis,
     752
I deeme that hire herte was ful wo.
     753
But she, ylike sad for everemo,
     754
Disposed was, this humble creature,
     755
The adversitee of fortune al t' endure,
     756
Abidynge evere his lust and his plesance,
     757
To whom that she was yeven herte and al,
     758
As to hire verray worldly suffisance.
     759
But shortly if this storie I tellen shal,
     760
This markys writen hath in special
     761
A lettre, in which he sheweth his entente,
     762
And secreely he to boloigne it sente.
     763
To the erl of panyk, which that hadde tho
     764
Wedded his suster, preyde he specially
     765
To bryngen hoom agayn his children two
     766
In honurable estaat al openly.
     767
But o thyng he hym preyede outrely,
     768
That he to no wight, though men wolde enquere,
     769
Sholde nat telle whos children that they were,
     770
But seye, the mayden sholde ywedded be
     771
Unto the markys of saluce anon.
     772
And as this erl was preyed, so dide he;
     773
For at day set he on his wey is goon
     774
Toward saluce, and lordes many oon
     775
In riche array, this mayden for to gyde,
     776
Hir yonge brother ridynge hire bisyde.
     777
Arrayed was toward hir mariage
     778
This fresshe mayde, ful of gemmes cleere;
     779
Hir brother, which that seven yeer was of age.
     780
Arrayed eek ful fressh in his manere.
     781
And thus in greet noblesse and with glad cheere,
     782
Toward saluces shapynge hir journey,
     783
Fro day to day they ryden in hir wey.
     784
Explicit quarta pars.

Sequitur pars quinta.

Among al this, after his wikke usage,
     785
This markys, yet his wyf to tempte moore Page  110
     786
To the outtreste preeve of hir corage,
     787
Fully to han experience and loore
     788
If that she were as stidefast as bifoore,
     789
He on a day, in open audience,
     790
Ful boistously hath seyd hire this sentence:
     791
Certes, grisilde, I hadde ynogh plesance
     792
To han yow to my wyf for youre goodnesse,
     793
As for youre trouthe and for youre obeisance,
     794
Noght for youre lynage, ne for youre richesse;
     795
But now knowe I in verray soothfastnesse
     796
That in greet lordshipe, if I wel avyse,
     797
Ther is greet servitute in sondry wyse.
     798
I may nat doon as every plowman may.
     799
My peple me constreyneth for to take
     800
Another wyf, and crien day by day;
     801
And eek the pope, rancour for to slake.
     802
Consenteth it, that dar I undertake;
     803
And trewely thus muche I wol yow seye,
     804
My newe wyf is comynge by the weye.
     805
Be strong of herte, and voyde anon hir place,
     806
And thilke dowere that ye broghten me,
     807
Taak it agayn; I graunte it of my grace.
     808
Retourneth to youre fadres hous, quod he;
     809
No man may alwey han prosperitee.
     810
With evene herte I rede yow t' endure
     811
The strook of fortune or of aventure.
     812
And she agayn answerde in pacience,
     813
My lord, quod she, I woot, and wiste alway,
     814
How that bitwixen youre magnificence
     815
And my poverte no wight kan ne may
     816
Maken comparison; it is no nay.
     817
I ne heeld me nevere digne in no manere
     818
To be youre wyf, no, ne youre chamberere.
     819
And in this hous, ther ye me lady maade --
     820
The heighe God take I for my witnesse,
     821
And also wysly he my soule glaade --
     822
I nevere heeld me lady ne mistresse,
     823
But humble servant to youre worthynesse,
     824
And evere shal, whil that my lyf may dure,
     825
Aboven every worldly creature.
     826
That ye so longe of youre benignitee
     827
Han holden me in honour and nobleye,
     828
Where as I was noght worthy for to bee,
     829
That thonke I God and yow, to whom I preye
     830
Foryelde it yow; ther is namoore to seye.
     831
Unto my fader gladly wol I wende,
     832
And with hym dwelle unto my lyves ende.
     833
Ther I was fostred of a child ful smal,
     834
Til I be deed my lyf ther wol I lede,
     835
A wydwe clene in body, herte, and al.
     836
For sith I yaf to yow my maydenhede,
     837
And am youre trewe wyf, it is no drede,
     838
God shilde swich a lordes wyf to take
     839
Another man to housbonde or to make!
     840
And of youre newe wyf God of his grace
     841
So graunte yow wele and prosperitee!
     842
For I wol gladly yelden hire my place,
     843
In which that I was blisful wont to bee.
     844
For sith it liketh yow, my lord, quod shee,
     845
That whilom weren al myn hertes reste,
     846
That I shal goon, I wol goon whan yow leste.
     847
But ther as ye me profre swich dowaire
     848
As I first broghte, it is wel in my mynde
     849
It were my wrecched clothes, nothyng faire,
     850
The whiche to me were hard now for to fynde.
     851
O goode god! how gentil and how kynde
     852
Ye semed by youre speche and youre visage
     853
The day that maked was oure mariage!
     854
But sooth is seyd -- algate I fynde it trewe,
     855
For in effect it preeved is on me --
     856
Love is noght oold as whan that it is newe.
     857
But certes, lord, for noon adversitee,
     858
To dyen in the cas, it shal nat bee
     859
That evere in word or werk I shal repente
     860
That I yow yaf myn herte in hool entente.
     861
My lord, ye woot that in my fadres place
     862
Ye dide me streepe out of my povre weede,
     863
And richely me cladden, of youre grace.
     864
To yow broghte I noght elles, out of drede,
     865
But feith, and nakednesse, and maydenhede;
     866
And heere agayn your clothyng I restoore,
     867
And eek your weddyng ryng, for everemore.
     868
The remenant of youre jueles redy be
     869
Inwith youre chambre, dar I saufly sayn.
     870
Naked out of my fadres hous, quod she,
     871
I cam, and naked moot I turne agayn.
     872
Al youre plesance wol I folwen fayn;
     873
But yet I hope it be nat youre entente
     874
That I smoklees out of youre paleys wente.
     875
Ye koude nat doon so dishonest a thyng,
     876
That thilke wombe in which youre children leye
     877
Sholde biforn the peple, in my walkyng,
     878
Be seyn al bare; wherfore I yow preye,
     879
Lat me nat lyk a worm go by the weye. Page  111
     880
Remembre yow, myn owene lord so deere,
     881
I was youre wyf, though I unworthy weere.
     882
Wherfore, in gerdon of my maydenhede,
     883
Which that I broghte, and noght agayn I bere,
     884
As voucheth sauf to yeve me, to my meede,
     885
But swich a smok as I was wont to were,
     886
That I therwith may wrye the wombe of here
     887
That was youre wyf. And heer take I my leeve
     888
Of yow, myn owene lord, lest I yow greve.
     889
The smok, quod he, that thou hast on thy bak,
     890
Lat it be stille, and bere it forth with thee.
     891
But wel unnethes thilke word he spak,
     892
But wente his wey, for routhe and for pitee.
     893
Biforn the folk hirselven strepeth she,
     894
And in hir smok, with heed and foot al bare,
     895
Toward hir fadre hous forth is she fare.
     896
The folk hire folwe, wepynge in hir weye,
     897
And fortune ay they cursen as they goon;
     898
But she fro wepyng kepte hire eyen dreye,
     899
Ne in this tyme word ne spak she noon.
     900
Hir fader, that this tidynge herde anoon,
     901
Curseth the day and tyme that nature
     902
Shoop hym to been a lyves creature.
     903
For out of doute this olde poure man
     904
Was evere in suspect of hir mariage;
     905
For evere he demed, sith that it bigan,
     906
That whan the lord fulfild hadde his corage,
     907
Hym wolde thynke it were a disparage
     908
To his estaat so lowe for t' alighte,
     909
And voyden hire as soone as ever he myghte.
     910
Agayns his doghter hastily goth he,
     911
For he by noyse of folk knew hire comynge,
     912
And with hire olde coote, as it myghte be
     913
He covered hire, ful sorwefully wepynge.
     914
But on hire body myghte he it nat brynge,
     915
For rude was the clooth, and moore of age
     916
By dayes fele than at hire mariage.
     917
Thus with hire fader, for a certeyn space,
     918
Dwelleth this flour of wyfly pacience,
     919
That neither by hire wordes ne hire face,
     920
Biforn the folk, ne eek in hire absence,
     921
Ne shewed she that hire was doon offence;
     922
Ne of hire heighe astaat no remembraunce
     923
Ne hadde she, as by hire contenaunce.
     924
No wonder is for in hire grete estaat
     925
Hire goost was evere in pleyn humylitee;
     926
No tendre mouth, noon herte delicaat,
     927
No pompe, no semblant of roialtee,
     928
But ful of pacient benyngnytee,
     929
Discreet and pridelees, ay honurable,
     930
And to hire housbonde evere meke and stable.
     931
Men speke of job, and moost for humblesse,
     932
As clerkes, whan hem list, konne wel endite,
     933
Namely of men, but as in soothfastnesse,
     934
Though clerkes preise wommen but a lite,
     935
Ther kan no man in humbless hym acquite
     936
As womman kan, ne kan been half so trewe
     937
As wommen been, but it be falle of newe.
     938

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

Lenvoy de Chaucer

Grisilde is deed, and eek hire pacience,
     1177
And bothe atones buryed in ytaille;
     1178
For which I crie in open audience,
     1179
No wedded man so hardy be t' assaille
     1180
His wyves pacience in trust to fynde
     1181
Grisildis, for in certein he shal faille.
     1182
O noble wyves, ful of heigh prudence,
     1183
Lat noon humylitee youre tonge naille,
     1184
Ne lat no clerk have cause or diligence
     1185
To write of yow a storie of swich mervaille
     1186
As of grisildis pacient and kynde,
     1187
Lest chichevache yow swelwe in hire entraille!
     1188
Folweth ekko, that holdeth no silence,
     1189
But evere answereth at the countretaille.
     1190
Beth nat bidaffed for youre innocence,
     1191
But sharply taak on yow the governaille.
     1192
Emprenteth wel this lessoun in youre mynde,
     1193
For commune profit sith it may availle.
     1194
Ye archewyves, stondeth at defense,
     1195
Syn ye be strong as is a greet camaille;
     1196
Ne suffreth nat that men yow doon offense.
     1197
And sklendre wyves, fieble as in bataille,
     1198
Beth egre as is a tygre yond in ynde;
     1199
Ay clappeth as a mille, I yow consaille.
     1200
Ne dreed hem nat, doth hem no reverence,
     1201
For though thyn housbonde armed be in maille,
     1202
The arwes of thy crabbed eloquence
     1203
Shal perce his brest, and eek his aventaille.
     1204
In jalousie I rede eek thou hym bynde,
     1205
And thou shalt make hym couche as doth a quaille.
     1206
If thou be fair, ther folk been in presence,
     1207
Shewe thou thy visage and thyn apparaille;
     1208
If thou be foul, be fre of thy dispence;
     1209
To gete thee freendes ay do thy travaille;
     1210
Be ay of chiere as light as leef on lynde,
     1211
And lat hym care, and wepe, and wrynge, and waille!
     1212
This worthy clerk, whan ended was his tale,
     1212.1
Oure hooste seyde, and swoor, by goddes bondes,
     1212.2
Me were levere than a barel ale
     1212.3
My wyf at hoom had herd this legende ones!
     1212.4
This is a gentil tale for the nones,
     1212.5
As to my purpos, wiste ye my wille;
     1212.6
But thyng that wol nat be, lat it be stille.
     1212.7