The Canterbury tales
Geoffrey Chaucer
F.N. Robinson

The Franklin's Tale

In armorik, that called is britayne,
     729
Ther was a knyght that loved and dide his payne
     730
To serve a lady in his beste wise;
     731
And many a labour, many a greet emprise
     732
He for his lady wroghte, er she were wonne.
     733
For she was oon the faireste under sonne,
     734
And eek therto comen of so heigh kynrede
     735
That wel unnethes dorste this knyght, drede,
     736
Telle hire his wo, his peyne, and his distresse.
     737
But atte laste she, for his worthynesse,
     738
And namely for his meke obeysaunce,
     739
Hath swich a pitee caught of his penaunce
     740
That pryvely she fil of his accord
     741
To take hym for hir housbonde and hir lord,
     742
Of swich lordshipe as men han over hir wyves.
     743
And for to lede the moore in blisse hir lyves,
     744
Of his free wyl he swoor hire as a knyght
     745
That nevere in al his lyf he, day ne nyght, Page  136
     746
Ne sholde upon hym take no maistrie
     747
Agayn hir wyl, ne kithe hire jalousie,
     748
But hire obeye, and folwe hir wyl in al,
     749
As any lovere to his lady shal,
     750
Save that the name of soveraynetee,
     751
That wolde he have for shame of his degree.
     752
She thanked hym, and with ful greet humblesse
     753
She seyde, sire, sith of youre gentillesse
     754
Ye profre me to have so large a reyne,
     755
Ne wolde nevere God bitwixe us tweyne,
     756
As in my gilt, were outher werre or stryf.
     757
Sire, I wol be youre humble trewe wyf;
     758
Have heer my trouthe, til that myn herte breste.
     759
Thus been they bothe in quiete and in reste.
     760
For o thyng, sires, saufly dar I seye,
     761
That freendes everych oother moot obeye,
     762
If they wol longe holden compaignye.
     763
Love wol nat been constreyned by maistrye.
     764
Whan maistrie comth, the God of love anon
     765
Beteth his wynges, and farewel, he is gon!
     766
Love is a thyng as any spirit free.
     767
Wommen, of kynde, desiren libertee,
     768
And nat to been constreyned as a thral;
     769
And so doon men, if I sooth seyen shal.
     770
Looke who that is moost pacient in love,
     771
He is at his advantage al above.
     772
Pacience is an heigh vertu, certeyn,
     773
For it venquysseth, as thise clerkes seyn,
     774
Thynges that rigour sholde nevere atteyne.
     775
For every word men may nat chide or pleyne.
     776
Lerneth to suffre, or elles, so moot I goon,
     777
Ye shul it lerne, wher so ye wole or noon;
     778
For in this world, certein, ther no wight is
     779
That he ne dooth or seith somtyme amys.
     780
Ire, siknesse, or constellacioun,
     781
Wyn, wo, or chaungynge of complexioun
     782
Causeth ful ofte to doon amys or speken.
     783
On every wrong a man may nat be wreken.
     784
After the tyme moste be temperaunce
     785
To every wight that kan on governaunce.
     786
And therfore hath this wise, worthy knyght,
     787
To lyve in ese, suffrance hire bihight,
     788
And she to hym ful wisly gan to swere
     789
That nevere sholde ther be defaunte in here.
     790
Heere may men seen an humble, wys accord;
     791
Thus hath she take hir servant and hir lord, --
     792
Servant in love, and lord in mariage.
     793
Thanne was he bothe in lordshipe and servage.
     794
Servage? nay, but in lordshipe above,
     795
Sith he hath bothe his lady and his love;
     796
His lady, certes, and his wyf also,
     797
The which that lawe of love acordeth to.
     798
And whan he was in this prosperitee,
     799
Hoom with his wyf he gooth to his contree,
     800
Nat fer fro pedmark, ther his dwellyng was,
     801
Where as he lyveth in blisse and in solas.
     802
Who koude telle, but he hadde wedded be,
     803
The joye, the ese, and the prosperitee
     804
That is bitwixe and housbonde and his wyf?
     805
A yeer and moore lasted this blisful lyf,
     806
Til that the knyght of which I speke thus,
     807
That of kayrrud was cleped arveragus,
     808
Shoop hym to goon and dwelle a yeer or tweyne
     809
In engelond, that cleped was eek briteyne,
     810
To seke in armes worshipe and honour;
     811
For al his lust he sette in swich labour;
     812
And dwelled there two yeer, the book seith thus.
     813
now wol I stynten of this arveragus,
     814
And speken I wole of dorigen his wyf,
     815
That loveth hire housbonde as hire hertes lyf,
     816
For his absence wepeth she and siketh,
     817
As doon thise noble wyves whan hem liketh.
     818
She moorneth, waketh, wayleth, fasteth, pleyneth;
     819
Desir of his presence hire so destreyneth
     820
That al this wyde world she sette at noght.
     821
Hire freendes, whiche that knewe hir hevy thoght,
     822
Conforten hire in al that ever they may.
     823
They prechen hire, they telle hire nyght and day
     824
That causelees she sleeth hirself, allas!
     825
And every confort possible in this cas
     826
They doon to hire with al hire bisynesse,
     827
Al for to make hire leve hire hevynesse.
     828
by process, as ye knowen everichoon,
     829
Men may so longe graven in a stoon
     830
Til som figure therinne emprented be.
     831
So longe han they conforted hire, til she
     832
Receyved hath, by hope and by resoun,
     833
The empreyntyng of hire consolacioun,
     834
Thurgh which hir grete sorwe gan aswage;
     835
She may nat alwey duren in swich rage
     836
and eek arveragus, in al this care,
     837
Hath sent hire lettres hoom of his welfare,
     838
And that he wol come hastily agayn;
     839
Or elles hadde this sorwe hir herte slayn.
     840
hire freendes sawe hir sorwe gan to slake,
     841
And preyde hire on knees, for goddes sake,
     842
To come and romen hire in compaignye,
     843
Awey to dryve hire derke fantasye.
     844
And finally she graunted that requeste,
     845
For wel she saugh that it was for the beste.
     846
now stood hire castel faste by the see,
     847
And often with hire freendes walketh shee, Page  137
     848
Hire to disporte, upon the bank an heigh,
     849
Where as she many a ship and barge seigh
     850
Seillynge hir cours, where as hem liste go.
     851
But thanne was that a parcel of hire wo,
     852
For to hirself ful ofte, allas! seith she,
     853
Is ther no ship, of so manye as I se,
     854
Wol bryngeth hom my lord? thanne were myn herte
     855
Al warisshed of his bittre peynes smerte.
     856
another tyme them wolde she sitte and thynke,
     857
And caste hir eyen dounward fro the brynke.
     858
But whan she saugh the grisly rokkes blake,
     859
For verray feere so wolde hir herte quake
     860
That on hire feet she myghte hire noght sustene.
     861
Thanne wolde she sitte adoun upon the grene,
     862
And pitously into the see biholde,
     863
And seyn right thus, with sorweful sikes colde --
     864
eterne god, that thurgh thy purveiaunce
     865
Ledest the world by certein governaunce,
     866
In ydel, as men seyn, ye no thyng make,
     867
But, lord, thise grisly feendly rokkes blake,
     868
That semen rather a foul confusion
     869
Of werk than any fair creacion
     870
Of swich a parfit wys God and a stable
     871
Why han ye wroght this werk unresonable?
     872
For by this werk, south, north, ne west, ne eest,
     873
Ther nys yfostred man, ne bryd, ne beest;
     874
It dooth no good, to my wit, but anoyeth.
     875
So ye nat, lord, how mankynde it destroyeth?
     876
An hundred thousand bodyes of mankynde
     877
Han rokkes slayn, al be they nat in mynde,
     878
Which mankynde is so fair part of thy werk
     879
That thou it madest lyk to thyn owene merk.
     880
Thanne semed it ye hadde a greet chiertee
     881
Toward mankynde; but how thanne may it bee
     882
That ye swiche meenes make it to destroyen,
     883
Whiche meenes do no good, but evere anoyen?
     884
I woot wel clerkes wol seyn as hem leste,
     885
By argumentz, that al is for the beste,
     886
Though I ne kan the causes nat yknowe.
     887
But thilke God that made wynd to blowe
     888
As kepe my lord! this my conclusion.
     889
To clerkes lete I al disputison.
     890
But wolde God that alle thise rokkes blake
     891
Were sonken into helle for his sake!
     892
Thise rokkes sleen myn herte for the feere.
     893
Thus wolde she seyn, with many a pitous teere.
     894
hire freendes sawe that it was no disport
     895
To romen by the see, but disconfort,
     896
And shopen for to pleyen somwher elles.
     897
They leden hire by ryveres and by welles,
     898
And eek in othere places delitables;
     899
They dauncen, and they pleyen at ches and tables.
     900
so on a day, right in the morwe-tyde,
     901
Unto a gardyn that was ther bisyde,
     902
In which that they hadde maad hir ordinaunce
     903
Of vitaille and of oother purveiaunce,
     904
They goon and pleye hem al the longe day.
     905
And this was on the sixte morwe of may,
     906
Which may hadde peynted with his softe shoures
     907
This gardyn ful of leves and of floures;
     908
And craft of mannes hand so curiously
     909
Arrayed hadde this gardyn, trewely,
     910
That nevere was ther gardyn of swich prys,
     911
But if it were the verray paradys.
     912
The odour of floures and the fresshe sighte
     913
Wolde han maked any herte lighte
     914
That evere was born, but if to greet siknesse,
     915
Or to greet sorwe, helde it in distresse;
     916
So ful it was of beautee with plesaunce.
     917
At after-dyner gonne they to daunce,
     918
And synge also, save dorigen allone,
     919
Which made alwey hir compleint and hir moone,
     920
For she ne saugh hym on the daunce go
     921
That was hir housbonde and hir love also.
     922
But nathelees she moste a tyme abyde,
     923
And with good hope lete hir sorwe slyde.
     924
upon this daunce, amonges othere men,
     925
Daunced a squier biforn dorigen,
     926
That fressher was and jolyer of array,
     927
As to my doom, than is the month of may.
     928
He syngeth, daunceth, passynge any man
     929
That is, or was, sith that the world bigan.
     930
Therwith he was, if men sholde hym discryve,
     931
Oon of the beste farynge man on lyve;
     932
Yong, strong, right vertuous, and riche, and wys,
     933
And wel biloved, and holden in greet prys.
     934
And shortly, if the sothe I tellen shal,
     935
Unwityng of this dorigen at al,
     936
This lusty squier, servant to venus,
     937
Which that ycleped was aurelius,
     938
Hadde loved hire best of any creature
     939
Two yeer and moore, as was his aventure,
     940
But nevere dorste he tellen hire his grevaunce.
     941
Withouten coppe he drank al his penaunce.
     942
He was despeyred; no thyng dorste he seye,
     943
Save in his songes somwhat wolde he wreye
     944
His wo, as in a general compleynyng;
     945
He seyde he lovede, and was biloved no thyng.
     946
Of swich matere made he manye layes,
     947
Songes, compleintes, roundels, virelayes,
     948
How that he dorste nat his sorwe telle, Page  138
     949
But langwissheth as a furye dooth in helle;
     950
And dye he moste, he seyde, as dide ekko
     951
For narcisus, that dorste nat telle hir wo.
     952
In oother manere than ye heere me seye,
     953
Ne dorste he nat to hire his wo biwreye,
     954
Save that, paraventure, somtyme at daunces,
     955
Ther yonge folk kepen hir observaunces,
     956
It may wel be he looked on hir face
     957
In swich a wise as man that asketh grace;
     958
But nothyng wiste she of his entente.
     959
Nathelees it happed, er they thennes wente,
     960
By cause that he was hire neighebour,
     961
And was a man of worshipe and honour,
     962
And hadde yknowen hym of tyme yoore,
     963
They fille in speche; and forth, moore and moore,
     964
Unto his purpos drough aurelius,
     965
and whan he saugh his tyme, he seyde thus --
     966
madame, quod he, by God that this world made,
     967
So that I wiste it myghte youre herte glade,
     968
I wolde that day that youre arveragus
     969
Wente over the see, that I, aurelius,
     970
Hadde went ther nevere I sholde have come agayn.
     971
For wel I woot my servyce is in vayn;
     972
My gerdon is but brestyng of myn herte.
     973
Madame, reweth upon my peynes smerte;
     974
For with a word ye may me sleen or save.
     975
Heere at youre feet God wolde that I were grave!
     976
I ne have as now no leyser moore to seye;
     977
Have mercy, sweete, or ye wol do me deye!
     978
she gan to looke upon aurelius --
     979
Is this youre wyl, quod she, and sey ye thus?
     980
Nevere erst, quod she, ne wiste I what ye mente.
     981
But now, aurelie, I knowe your entente,
     982
By thilke God that yaf me soule and lyf,
     983
Ne shal I nevere been untrewe wyf
     984
In word ne werk, as fer as I have wit;
     985
I wol been his to whom that I am knyt.
     986
Taak this for fynal answere as of me.
     987
But after that in pley thus seyde she --
     988
aurelie, quod she, by heighe God above,
     989
Yet wolde I graunte yow to been youre love,
     990
Syn I yow se so pitously complayne.
     991
Looke what day that endelong britayne
     992
Ye remoeve alle the rokkes, stoon by stoon,
     993
That they ne lette ship ne boot to goon, --
     994
I seye, whan ye han maad the coost so clene
     995
Of rokkes that ther nys no stoon ysene,
     996
Thanne wol I love yow best of any man,
     997
Have heer my trouthe, in al that evere I kan.
     998
Is ther noon oother grace in yow? quod he.
     999
no, by that lord, quod she, that maked me!
     1000
For wel I woot that it shal never bityde.
     1001
Lat swiche folies out of youre herte slyde.
     1002
What deyntee sholde a man han in his lyf
     1003
For to go love another mannes wyf,
     1004
That hath hir body whan so that hym liketh?
     1005
aurelius ful ofte soore siketh;
     1006
Wo was aurelie whan that he this herde,
     1007
And with a sorweful herte he thus answerde;
     1008
madame, quod he, this were inpossible!
     1009
Thanne moot I dye of sodeyn deth horrible.
     1010
And with that word he turned hym anon.
     1011
Tho coome hir othere freendes many oon,
     1012
And in the aleyes romeden up and doun,
     1013
And nothyng wiste of this conclusioun,
     1014
But sodeynly bigonne revel newe
     1015
Til that the brighte sonne loste his hewe;
     1016
For th'orisonte hath reft the sonne his lyght, --
     1017
This is as muche to seye as it was nyght! --
     1018
And hoom they goon in joye and in solas,
     1019
Save oonly wrecche aurelius, allas!
     1020
He to his hous is goon with sorweful herte.
     1021
He seeth he may nat fro his deeth asterte;
     1022
Hym semed that he felte his herte colde.
     1023
Up to the hevene his handes he gan holde,
     1024
And on his knowes bare he sette hym doun,
     1025
And in his ravyng seyde his orisoun.
     1026
For verray wo out of his wit he breyde.
     1027
He nyste what he spak, but thus he seyde;
     1028
With pitous herte his pleynt hath bigonne
     1029
Unto the goddes, and first unto the sonne;
     1030
he seyde, appollo, God and governour
     1031
Of every plaunte, herbe, tree, and flour,
     1032
That yevest, after thy declinacion,
     1033
To ech of hem his tyme and his seson,
     1034
As thyn herberwe chaungeth lowe or heighe,
     1035
Lord phebus, cast thy merciable eighe
     1036
On wrecche aurelie, which that am but lorn.
     1037
Lo, lord! my lady hath my deeth ysworn
     1038
Withoute gilt, but thy benignytee
     1039
Upon my dedly herte have som pitee.
     1040
For wel I woot, lord phebus, if yow lest,
     1041
Ye may me helpen, save my lady, best.
     1042
Now voucheth sauf that I may yow devyse
     1043
How that I may been holpen and in what wyse.
     1044
youre blisful suster, lucina the sheene,
     1045
That of the see is chief goddesse and queene
     1046
(though neptunus have deitee in the see,,
     1047
Yet emperisse aboven hym is she),
     1048
Ye knowen wel, lord, that right as hir desir
     1049
Is to be quyked and lighted of youre fir, Page  139
     1050
For which she folweth yow ful bisily,
     1051
Right so the see desireth naturelly
     1052
To folwen hire, as she that is goddesse
     1053
Bothe in the see and ryveres moore and lesse.
     1054
Wherfore, lord phebus, this is my requeste --
     1055
Do this miracle, or do myn herte breste --
     1056
That now next at this opposicion
     1057
Which in the signe shal be of the leon,
     1058
As preieth hire so greet a flood to brynge
     1059
That fyve fadme at the leeste it oversprynge
     1060
The hyeste rokke in armorik briteyne;
     1061
And lat this flood endure yeres tweyne.
     1062
Thanne certes to my lady may I seye,
     1063
'holdeth youre heste, the rokkes been aweye.'
     1064
lord phebus, dooth this miracle for me.
     1065
Preye hire she go no faster cours than ye;
     1066
I seye, preyeth your suster that she go
     1067
No faster cours than ye thise yeres two.
     1068
Thanne shal she been evene atte fulle alwey,
     1069
And spryng flood laste bothe nyght and day.
     1070
And but she vouche sauf in swich manere
     1071
To graunte me my sovereyn lady deere,
     1072
Prey hire to synken every rok adoun
     1073
Into hir owene dirke regioun
     1074
Under the ground, ther pluto dwelleth inne,
     1075
Or nevere mo shal I my lady wynne.
     1076
Thy temple in delphos wol I barefoot seke.
     1077
Lord phebus, se the teris on my cheke,
     1078
And of my peyne have som compassioun.
     1079
And with that word in swowne he fil adoun,
     1080
And longe tyme he lay forth in a traunce.
     1081
his brother, which that knew of his penaunce,
     1082
Up caughte hym, and to bedde he hath hym broght.
     1083
Dispeyred in this torment and this thoght
     1084
Lete I this woful creature lye;
     1085
Chese he, for me, wheither he wol lyve or dye.
     1086
arveragus, with heele and greet honour,
     1087
As he that was of chivalrie the flour,
     1088
Is comen hoom, and othere worthy men.
     1089
O blisful artow now, thou dorigen,
     1090
That hast thy lusty housbonde in thyne armes,
     1091
The fresshe knyght, the worthy man of armes,
     1092
That loveth thee as his owene hertes lyf.
     1093
No thyng list hym to been ymaginatyf,
     1094
If any wight hadde spoke, whil he was oute,
     1095
To hire of love; he hadde of it no doute.
     1096
He noght entendeth to no swich mateere,
     1097
But daunceth, justeth, maketh hire good cheere;
     1098
And thus in joye and blisse I lete hem dwelle,
     1099
And of the sike aurelius wol I telle.
     1100
in langour and in torment furyus
     1101
Two yeer and moore lay wrecche aurelyus,
     1102
Er any foot he myghte on erthe gon;
     1103
Ne confort in this tyme hadde he noon,
     1104
Save of his brother, which that was a clerk.
     1105
He knew of al this wo and al this werk;
     1106
For to noon oother creature, certeyn,
     1107
Of this matere he dorste no word seyn.
     1108
Under his brest he baar it moore secree
     1109
Than evere dide pamphilus for galathee.
     1110
His brest was hool, withoute for to sene,
     1111
But in his herte ay was the arwe kene.
     1112
And wel ye knowe that of a sursanure
     1113
In surgerye is perilus the cure,
     1114
But men myghte touche the arwe, or come therby.
     1115
His brother weep and wayled pryvely,
     1116
Til atte laste hym fil in remembraunce,
     1117
That whiles he was at orliens in fraunce,
     1118
As yonge clerkes, that been lykerous
     1119
To redern artes that been curious,
     1120
Seken in every halke and every herne
     1121
Particuler sciences for to lerne --
     1122
He hym remembred that, upon a day,
     1123
At orliens in studie a book he say
     1124
Of magyk natureel, which his felawe,
     1125
That was that tyme a bacheler of lawe,
     1126
Al were he ther to lerne another craft,
     1127
Hadde prively upon his desk ylaft;
     1128
Which book spak muchel of the operaciouns
     1129
Touchynge the eighte and twenty mansiouns
     1130
That longen to the moone, and swich folye
     1131
As in oure dayes is nat worth a flye, --
     1132
For hooly chirches feith in our bileve
     1133
Ne suffreth noon illusioun us to greve.
     1134
And whan this book was in his remembraunce,
     1135
Anon for joye his herte gan to daunce,
     1136
And to hymself he seyde pryvely;
     1137
My brother shal be warisshed hastily;
     1138
For I am siker that ther be sciences
     1139
By whiche men make diverse apparences,
     1140
Swiche as thise subtile tregetoures pleye.
     1141
For ofte at feestes have I wel herd seye
     1142
That tregetours, withinne an halle large,
     1143
Have maad come in a water and a barge,
     1144
And in the halle rowen up and doun.
     1145
Somtyme hath semed come a grym leoun;
     1146
And sometyme floures sprynge as in a mede;
     1147
Somtyme a vyne, and grapes white and rede;
     1148
Somtyme a castel, al of lym and stoon;
     1149
And whan hem lyked, voyded it anon.
     1150
Thus semed it to every mannes sighte.
     1151
Now thanne conclude I thus, that if I myghte
     1152
At orliens som oold felawe yfynde
     1153
That hadde thise moones mansions in mynde, Page  140
     1154
Or oother magyk natureel above,
     1155
He sholde wel make my brother han his love.
     1156
For with an apparence a clerk may make,
     1157
To mannes sighte, that alle the rokkes blake
     1158
Of britaigne weren yvoyded everichon,
     1159
And shippes by the brynke comen and gon,
     1160
And in swich forme enduren a wowke or two.
     1161
Thanne were my brother warisshed of his wo;
     1162
Thanne moste she nedes holden hire biheste,
     1163
Or elles he shal shame hire atte leeste.
     1164
what sholde I make a lenger tale of this?
     1165
Unto his brotheres bed he comen is,
     1166
And swich confort he yaf hym for to gon
     1167
To orliens that he up stirte anon,
     1168
And on his wey forthward thanne is he fare
     1169
In hope for to been lissed of his care.
     1170
whan they were come almoost to that citee,
     1171
But if it were a two furlong or thre,
     1172
A yong clerk romynge by hymself they mette,
     1173
Which that in latyn thriftily hem grette,
     1174
And after that he seyde a wonder thyng --
     1175
I knowe, quod he, the cause of youre comyng.
     1176
And er they ferther any foote wente,
     1177
He tolde hem al that was in hire entente.
     1178
this briton clerk hym asked of felawes
     1179
The whiche that he had knowe in olde dawes,
     1180
And he answerde hym that they dede were,
     1181
For which he weep ful ofte many a teere.
     1182
doun of his hors aurelius lighte anon,
     1183
And with this magicien forth is he gon
     1184
Hoom to his hous, and maden hem wel at ese.
     1185
Hem lakked no vitaille that myghte hem plese.
     1186
So wel arrayed hous as ther was oon
     1187
Aurelius in his lyf saugh nevere noon.
     1188
he shewed hym, er he wente to sopeer,
     1189
Forestes, parkes ful of wilde deer;
     1190
Ther saugh he hertes with hir hornes hye,
     1191
The gretteste that evere were seyn with ye.
     1192
He saugh of hem an hondred slayn with houndes,
     1193
And somme with arwes blede of bittre woundes.
     1194
He saugh, whan voyded were thise wilde deer,
     1195
Thise fauconers upon a fair ryver,
     1196
That with hir haukes han the heron slayn.
     1197
tho saugh he knyghtes justyng in a playn;
     1198
And after this he dide hym swich plesaunce
     1199
That he hym shewed his lady on a daunce,
     1200
On which hymself he daunced, as hym thoughte.
     1201
And whan this maister that this magyk wroughte
     1202
Saugh it was tyme, he clapte his handes two,
     1203
And farewel! al oure revel was ago,
     1204
And yet remoeved they nevere out of the hous,
     1205
Whil they saugh al this sighte merveillous,
     1206
But in his studie, ther as his bookes be,
     1207
They seten stille, and no wight but they thre.
     1208
to hym this maister called his squier,
     1209
And seyde hym thus -- is redy oure soper?
     1210
Almoost an houre it is, I undertake,
     1211
Sith I yow bad oure soper for to make,
     1212
Whan that thise wrothy men wenten with me
     1213
Into my studie, ther as my bookes be.
     1214
sire, quod this squier, whan it liketh yow,
     1215
It is al redy, though ye wol right now.
     1216
Go we thanne soupe, quod he, as for the beste.
     1217
Thise amorous folk somtyme moote han hir reste.
     1218
at after-soper fille they in tretee
     1219
What somme sholde this maistres gerdon be,
     1220
To remoeven alle the rokkes of britayne,
     1221
And eek from gerounde to the mouth of sayne.
     1222
he made it straunge, and swoor, so God hym save,
     1223
Lasse than a thousand pound he wolde nat have,
     1224
Ne gladly for than somme he wolde nat goon.
     1225
aurelius, with blisful herte anoon,
     1226
Answerde thus -- fy on a thousand pound!
     1227
This wyde world, which that men seye is round,
     1228
I wolde it yeve, if I were lord of it.
     1229
This bargayn is ful dryve, for we been knyt.
     1230
Ye shal be payed trewely, by my trouthe!
     1231
But looketh now, for no necligence or slouthe
     1232
Ye tarie us heere no lenger than to-morwe.
     1233
nay, quod this clerk, have heer my feith to borwe.
     1234
to bedde is goon aurelius whan hym leste,
     1235
And wel ny al that nyght he hadde his reste.
     1236
What for his labour and his hope of blisse,
     1237
His woful herte of penaunce hadde a lisse.
     1238
upon the morwe, what that it was day,
     1239
To britaigne tooke they the righte way,
     1240
Aurelius and this magicien bisyde,
     1241
And been descended ther they wolde abyde.
     1242
And this was, as thise bookes me remembre,
     1243
The colde, frosty seson of decembre.
     1244
phebus wax old, and hewed lyk laton,
     1245
That in his hoote declynacion
     1246
Shoon as the burned gold with stremes brighte;
     1247
But now in capricorn adoun he lighte,
     1248
Where as he shoon ful pale, I dar wel seyn,
     1249
The bittre frostes, with the sleet and reyn, Page  141
     1250
Destroyed hath the grene in every yerd.
     1251
Janus sit by the fyr, with double berd,
     1252
And drynketh of his bugle horn the wyn;
     1253
Biforn hym stant brawen of the tusked swyn,
     1254
And nowel crieth every lusty man.
     1255
aurelius, in al that evere he kan,
     1256
Dooth to this maister chiere and reverence,
     1257
And preyeth hym to doon his diligence
     1258
To bryngen hym out of his peynes smerte,
     1259
Or with swerd that he wolde slitte his herte.
     1260
this subtil clerk swich routhe had of this man
     1261
That nyght and day he spedde hym that he kan
     1262
To wayten a tyme of his conclusioun;
     1263
This is to seye, to maken illusioun,
     1264
By swich an apparence or jogelrye --
     1265
I ne kan no termes of astrologye --
     1266
That she and every wight sholde wene and seye
     1267
That of britaigne the rokkes were aweye,
     1268
Or ellis they were sonken under grounde.
     1269
So atte laste he hath his tyme yfounde
     1270
To maken his japes and his wrecchednesse
     1271
Of swich a supersticiuos cursednesse.
     1272
His tables tolletanes forth he brought,
     1273
Ful wel corrected, ne ther lakked nought,
     1274
Neither his collect ne his expans yeeris,
     1275
Ne his rootes, ne his othere geeris,
     1276
As been his centris and his argumentz
     1277
And his proporcioneles convenientz
     1278
For his equacions in every thyng.
     1279
And by his eighte speere in his wirkyng
     1280
He knew ful wel how fer alnath was shove
     1281
For the heed of thilke fixe aries above,
     1282
That in the ninthe speere considered is;
     1283
Ful subtilly he kalkulled al this.
     1284
whan he hadde founde his firste mansioun,
     1285
He knew the remenaunt by propocioun,
     1286
And knew the arisyng of his moone weel,
     1287
And in whos face, and terme, and everydeel;
     1288
And knew ful weel the moones mansioun
     1289
Acordaunt to his operacioun,
     1290
And knew also his othere observaunces
     1291
For swiche illusiouns and swiche meschaunces
     1292
As hethen folk useden in thilke dayes.
     1293
For which no lenger maked he delayes,
     1294
But thurgh his magik, for a wyke or tweye,
     1295
It semed that alle the rokkes were aweye.
     1296
aurelius, which that yet despeired is
     1297
Wher he shal han his love or fare amys,
     1298
Awaitheth nyght and day on this myracle;
     1299
And whan he knew that ther was noon obstacle,
     1300
That voyded were thise rokkes everychon,
     1301
Doun to his maistres feet he fil anon,
     1302
And seyde, I woful wrecche, aurelius,
     1303
Thanke yow, lord, and lady myn venus,
     1304
That me han holpen fro my cares colde.
     1305
And to the temple his wey forth hath he holde,
     1306
Where as he knew he sholde his lady see.
     1307
And whan he saugh his tyme, anon-right hee,
     1308
With dredful herte and with ful humble cheere,
     1309
Salewed hath his sovereyn lady deere --
     1310
my righte lady, quod this woful man,
     1311
Whom I moost drede and love as best I kan,
     1312
And lothest were of al this world displese,
     1313
Nere it that I for yow have swich disese
     1314
That I moste dyen heere at youre foot anon,
     1315
Noght wolde I telle how me is wo bigon.
     1316
But certes outher moste I dye or pleyne;
     1317
Ye sle me giltelees for verray peyne.
     1318
But of my deeth thogh that ye have no routhe,
     1319
Avyseth yow er that ye breke youre trouthe.
     1320
Repenteth yow, for thilke God above,
     1321
Er ye me sleen by cause that I yow love.
     1322
For, madame, wel ye woot what ye han hight --
     1323
Nat that I chalange any thyng of right
     1324
Of yow, my sovereyn lady, but youre grace --
     1325
But in a gardyn yond, at swich a place,
     1326
Ye woot right wel what ye bihighten me;
     1327
And in my hand youre trouthe plighten ye
     1328
To love me best -- God woot, ye seyde so,
     1329
Al be that I unworthy am therto.
     1330
Madame, I speke it for the honour of yow
     1331
Moore than to save myn hertes lyf right now, --
     1332
I have do so as ye comanded me;
     1333
And if ye vouche sauf, ye may go see.
     1334
Dooth as yow list; have youre biheste in mynde,
     1335
For, quyk or deed, right there ye shal me fynde.
     1336
In yow lith al to do me lyve or deye, --
     1337
But wel I woot the rokkes been aweye.
     1338
he taketh his leve, and she astoned stood;
     1339
In al hir face nas a drope of blood.
     1340
She wende nevere han come in swich a trappe.
     1341
Allas, quod she, that evere this sholde happe!
     1342
For wende I nevere by possibilitee
     1343
That swich a monstre or merveille myghte be!
     1344
It is agayns the proces of nature.
     1345
And hoom she goth a sorweful creature;
     1346
For verray feere unnethe may she go.
     1347
She wepeth, wailleth, al a day or two.
     1348
And swowneth, that it routhe was to see.
     1349
But why it was to no wight tolde shee,
     1350
For out of towne was goon arveragus.
     1351
But to hirself she spak, and seyde thus,
     1352
With face pale and with ful sorweful cheere,
     1353
In hire compleynt, as ye shal after heere --
     1354
allas, quod she, on thee, fortune, I pleyne, Page  142
     1355
That unwar wrapped hast me in thy cheyne,
     1356
Fro which t'escape woot I no socour,
     1357
Save oonly deeth or elles dishonour;
     1358
Oon of thise two bihoveth me to chese.
     1359
But nathelees, yet have I levere to lese
     1360
My lif than of my body to have a shame,
     1361
Or knowe myselven fals, or lese my name;
     1362
And with my deth I may be quyt, ywis.
     1363
Hath ther nat many a noble wyf er this,
     1364
And many a mayde, yslayn hirself, allas!
     1365
Rather than with hir body doon trespas?
     1366
yis, certes, lo, thise stories beren witnesse --
     1367
Whan thritty tirauntz, ful of cursednesse,
     1368
Hadde slayn phidon in atthenes atte feste,
     1369
They comanded his doghtres for t'areste,
     1370
And bryngen hem biforn hem in despit,
     1371
Al naked, to fulfille hir foul delit,
     1372
And in hir fadres blood they made hem daunce
     1373
Upon the pavement, God yeve hem meschaunce!
     1374
For which thise woful maydens, ful of drede,
     1375
Rather than they wolde lese hir maydenhede,
     1376
They prively been stirt into a welle,
     1377
And dreynte hemselven, as the bookes telle.
     1378
they of mecene leete enquere and seke
     1379
Of lacedomye fifty maydens eke,
     1380
On whiche they wolden doon hir lecherye.
     1381
But was ther noon of al that compaignye
     1382
That she nas slayn, and with a good entente
     1383
Chees rather for to dye than assente
     1384
To been oppressed of hir maydenhede.
     1385
Why sholde I thanne to dye been in drede?
     1386
Lo, eek, the tiraunt aristoclides,
     1387
That loved a mayden, heet stymphalides,
     1388
Whan that hir fader slayn was on a nyght,
     1389
Unto dianes temple goth she right,
     1390
And hente the ymage in hir handes two,
     1391
Fro which ymage wolde she nevere go.
     1392
No wight ne myghte hir handes of it arace
     1393
Til she was slayn, right in the selve place.
     1394
now sith that maydens hadden swich despit
     1395
To been defouled with mannes foul delit,
     1396
Wel oghte a wyf rather hirselven slee
     1397
Than be defouled, as it thynketh me.
     1398
What shal I seyn of hasdrubales wyf,
     1399
That at cartage birafte hirself hir lyf?
     1400
For whan she saugh that romayns wan the toun,
     1401
She took hir children alle, and skipte adoun
     1402
Into the fyr, and chees rather to dye
     1403
Than any romayn dide hire vileynye.
     1404
Hath nat lucresse yslayn hirself, allas!
     1405
At rome, whan that she oppressed was
     1406
Of tarquyn, for hire thoughte it was a shame
     1407
To lyven whan that she had lost hir name?
     1408
The sevene maydens of milesie also
     1409
Han slayn hemself, for verrey drede and wo,
     1410
Rather than folk of gawle hem sholde oppresse.
     1411
Mo than a thousand stories, as I gesse,
     1412
Koude I now telle as touchynge this mateere.
     1413
Whan habradate was slayn, his wyf so deere
     1414
Hirselven slow, and leet hir blood to glyde
     1415
In habradates woundes depe and wyde,
     1416
And seyde, my body, at the leeste way,
     1417
Ther shal no wight defoulen, if I may.
     1418
what sholde I mo ensamples heerof sayn,
     1419
Sith that so manye han hemselven slayn
     1420
Wel rather than they wolde defouled be?
     1421
I wol conclude that it is bet for me
     1422
To sleen myself than been defouled thus.
     1423
I wol be trewe unto arveragus,
     1424
Or rather sleen myself in som manere,
     1425
As dide demociones doghter deere
     1426
By cause that she wolde nat defouled be.
     1427
O cedasus, it is ful greet pitee
     1428
To reden how thy doghtren deyde, allas!
     1429
That slowe hemself for swich a manere cas.
     1430
As greet a pitee was it, or wel moore,
     1431
The theban mayden that for nichanore
     1432
Hirselven slow, right for swich manere wo.
     1433
Another theban mayden dide right so;
     1434
For oon of macidonye hadde hire oppressed,
     1435
She with hire deeth hir maydenhede redressed.
     1436
What shal I seye of nicerates wyf,
     1437
That for swich cas birafte hirself hir lyf?
     1438
How trewe eek was to alcebiades
     1439
His love, that rather for to dyen chees
     1440
Than for to suffre his body unburyed be.
     1441
Lo, which a wyf was alceste, quod she.
     1442
What seith omer of good penalopee?
     1443
Al grece knoweth of hire chastitee
     1444
Pardee, of laodomya is writen thus,
     1445
That whan at troie was slayn protheselaus,
     1446
Ne lenger wolde she lyve after his day.
     1447
The same of noble porcia telle I may;
     1448
Withoute brutus koude she nat lyve,
     1449
To whom she hadde al hool hir herte yive.
     1450
The parfit wyfhod of arthemesie
     1451
Honured is thurgh al the barbarie.
     1452
O teuta, queene! thy wyfly chastitee
     1453
To alle wyves may a mirour bee.
     1454
The same thyng I seye of bilyea,
     1455
Of rodogne, and eek valeria.
     1456
thus pleyned dorigen a day or tweye,
     1457
Purposynge evere that she wolde deye.
     1458
But nathelees, upon the thridde nyght,
     1459
Hoom cam arveragus, this worthy knyght,
     1460
And asked hire why that she weep so soore; Page  143
     1461
And she gan wepen ever lenger the moore.
     1462
Allas, quod she, that evere was I born!
     1463
Thus have I seyd, quod she, thus have I sworn --
     1464
And toold hym al as ye han herd bifore;
     1465
It nedeth nat reherce it yow namoore.
     1466
This housbonde, with glad chiere, in freendly wyse
     1467
Answerde and seyde as I shal yow devyse --
     1468
Is ther oght elles, dorigen, but this?
     1469
nay, nay, quod she, God helpe me so as wys!
     1470
This is to muche, and it were goddes wille.
     1471
ye, wyf, quod he, lat slepen that is stille.
     1472
It may be wel, paraventure, yet to day.
     1473
Ye shul youre trouthe holden, by my fay!
     1474
For God so wisly have mercy upon me,
     1475
I hadde wel levere ystiked for to be
     1476
For verray love which I to yow have,
     1477
But if ye sholde youre trouthe kepe and save.
     1478
Trouthe is the hyeste thyng that man may kepe --
     1479
But with that word he brast anon to wepe,
     1480
And seyde, I yow forbede, up peyne of deeth,
     1481
That nevere, whil thee lasteth lyf ne breeth,
     1482
To no wight telle thou of this aventure, --
     1483
As I may best, I wol my wo endure
     1484
Ne make no contenance of hevynesse,
     1485
That folk of yow may demen harm or gesse.
     1486
and forth he cleped a squier and a mayde --
     1487
Gooth forth anon with dorigen, he sayde,
     1488
And bryngeth hire to swich a place anon.
     1489
They take hir leve, and on hir wey they gon
     1490
But they ne wiste why she thider wente.
     1491
He nolde no wight tellen his entente.
     1492
paraventure an heep of yow, ywis,
     1493
Wol holden hym a lewed man in this
     1494
That he wol putte his wyf in jupartie.
     1495
Herkneth the tale er ye upon hire crie.
     1496
She may have bettre fortune than yow semeth;
     1497
And whan that ye han herd the tale, demeth.
     1498
this squier, which that highte aurelius,
     1499
On dorigen that was so amorous,
     1500
Of aventure happed hire to meete
     1501
Amydde the toun, right in the quykkest strete,
     1502
As she was bown to goon the wey forth right
     1503
Toward the gardyn ther as she had hight.
     1504
And he was to the gardyn-ward also --
     1505
For wel he spyed whan she wolde go
     1506
Out of hir hous to any maner place.
     1507
But thus they mette, of aventure or grace,
     1508
And he saleweth hire with glad entente,
     1509
And asked of hire whiderward she wente;
     1510
And she answerde, half as she were mad,
     1511
Unto the gardyn, as myn housbonde bad,
     1512
My trouthe for to holde, allas! allas!
     1513
aurelius gan wondren on this cas,
     1514
And in his herte hadde greet compassioun
     1515
Of hire and of hire lamentacioun,
     1516
And of arveragus, the worthy knyght,
     1517
That bad hire holden al that she had hight,
     1518
So looth hym was his wyf sholde breke hir trouthe
     1519
And in his herte he caughte of this greet routhe,
     1520
Considerynge the beste on every syde,
     1521
That fro his lust yet were hym levere abyde
     1522
Than doon so heigh a cherlyssh wrecchednesse
     1523
Agayns franchise and all gentillesse;
     1524
For which in fewe wordes seyde he thus --
     1525
madame, seyth to youre lord arveragus,
     1526
That sith I se his grete gentillesse
     1527
To yow, and eek I se wel youre distresse,
     1528
That him were levere han shame (and that were routhe)
     1529
Than ye to me sholde breke thus youre trouthe,
     1530
I have wel levere evere to suffre wo
     1531
Than I departe the love bitwix yow two.
     1532
I yow relesse, madame, into youre hond
     1533
Quyt every serement and every bond
     1534
That ye han maad to me as heerbiforn,
     1535
Sith thilke tyme which that ye were born.
     1536
My trouthe I plighte, I shal yow never repreve
     1537
Of no biheste, and heere I take my leve,
     1538
As of the treweste and the beste wyf
     1539
That evere yet I knew in al my lyf.
     1540
But every wyf be war of hire biheeste!
     1541
Or dorigen remembreth, atte leeste.
     1542
Thus kan a squier doon a gentil dede
     1543
As wel as kan a knyght, withouten drede.
     1544
she thonketh hym upon hir knees al bare,
     1545
And hoom unto hir housbonde is she fare,
     1546
And tolde hym al, as ye han herd me sayd;
     1547
And be ye siker, he was so weel apayd
     1548
That it were inpossible me to wryte.
     1549
What sholde I lenger of this cas endyte?
     1550
arveragus and dorigen his wyf
     1551
In sovereyn blisse leden forth hir lyf.
     1552
Nevere eft ne was ther angre hem bitweene.
     1553
He cherisseth hire as though she were a queene,
     1554
And she was to hym trewe for everemoore.
     1555
Of thise two folk ye gete of me namoore.
     1556
aurelius, that his cost hath al forlorn,
     1557
Curseth the tyme that evere he was born --
     1558
Allas, quod he, allas, that I bihighte
     1559
Of pured gold a thousand pound of wighte
     1560
Unto this philosophre! how shal I do? Page  144
     1561
I se namoore but that I am fordo.
     1562
Myn heritage moot I nedes selle,
     1563
And been a beggere; heere may I nat dwelle,
     1564
And shamen al my kynrede in this place,
     1565
But I of hym may gete bettre grace.
     1566
But nathelees, I wole of hym assaye,
     1567
At certeyn dayes, yeer by yeer, to paye,
     1568
And thanke hym of his grete curteisye.
     1569
My trouthe wol I kepe, I wol nat lye.
     1570
with herte soor he gooth unto his cofre,
     1571
And broghte gold unto his philosophre,
     1572
The value of fyve hundred pound, I gesse,
     1573
And hym bisecheth, of his gentillesse,
     1574
To graunte hym dayes of the remenaunt;
     1575
And seyde, maister, I dar wel make avaunt,
     1576
I failled nevere of my trouthe as yit,
     1577
For sikerly my dette shal be quyt
     1578
Towardes yow, howevere that I fare
     1579
To goon a-begged in my kirtle bare.
     1580
But wolde ye vouche sauf, upon seuretee,
     1581
Two yeer or thre for to respiten me,
     1582
Thanne were I wel; for elles moot I selle
     1583
Myn heritage; ther is namoore to telle.
     1584
this philosophre sobrely answerde,
     1585
And seyde thus, whan he thise wordes herde --
     1586
Have I nat holden covenant unto thee?
     1587
yes, certes, wel and trewely, quod he.
     1588
hastow nat had thy lady as thee liketh?
     1589
no, no, quod he, and sorwefully he siketh.
     1590
what was the cause? tel me if thou kan.
     1591
aurelius his tale anon bigan,
     1592
And tolde hym al, as ye han herd biroore;
     1593
It nedeth nat to yow reherce it moore.
     1594
he seide, arveragus, of gentillesse,
     1595
Hadde levere dye in sorwe and in distresse
     1596
Than that his wyf were of hir trouthe fals.
     1597
The sorwe of dorigen he tolde hym als;
     1598
How looth hire was to been a wikked wyf,
     1599
And that she levere had lost that day hir lyf,
     1600
And that hir trouthe she swoor thurgh innocence,
     1601
She nevere erst hadde herd speke of apparence.
     1602
That made me han of hire so greet pitee;
     1603
And right as frely as he sente hire me,
     1604
As frely sente I hire to hym ageyn,
     1605
This al and som; ther is namoore to seyn.
     1606
This philosophre answerde, leeve brother,
     1607
Everich of yow dide gentilly til oother.
     1608
Thou art a squier, and he is a knyght;
     1609
But God forbede, for his blisful myght,
     1610
But if a clerk koude doon a gentil dede
     1611
As wel as any of yow, it is no drede!
     1612
sire, I releesse thee thy thousand pound,
     1613
As thou right now were cropen out of the ground,
     1614
Ne nevere er now ne haddest knowen me.
     1615
For, sire, I wol nat taken a peny of thee
     1616
For al my craft, ne noght for my travaille.
     1617
Thou hast ypayed wel for my vitaille.
     1618
It is ynogh, and farewel, have good day!
     1619
And took his hors, and forth he goth his way.
     1620
Lordynges, this question, thanne, wol I aske now,
     1621
Which was the mooste fre, as thenketh yow?
     1622
Now telleth me, er that ye ferther wende.
     1623
I kan namoore; my tale is at an ende.
     1624