The Canterbury tales
Geoffrey Chaucer
F.N. Robinson

De Hugelino Comite de Pize

Off the erl hugelyn of pyze the langour
Ther may no tonge telle for pitee.
But litel out of pize stant a tour,
In which tour in prisoun put was he,
And with hym been his litel children thre;
The eldest scarsly fyf yeer was of age.
Allas, fortune! it was greet crueltee
Swiche briddes for to putte in swich a cage!
Dampned was he to dyen in that prisoun,
For roger, which that bisshop was of pize,
Hadde on hym maad a fals suggestioun,
Thurgh which the peple gan upon hym rise,
And putten hym to prisoun, in swich wise
As ye han herd, and mete and drynke he hadde
So smal, that wel unnethe it may suffise,
And therwithal it was ful povre and badde.
And on a day bifil that in that hour
Whan that his mete wont was to be broght,
The gayler shette the dores of the tour.
He herde it wel, but he spak right noght,
And in his herte anon ther fil a thoght
That they for hunger wolde doon hym dyen.
Allas! quod he, allas, that I was wroght!
Therwith the teeris fillen from his yen.
His yonge sone, that thre yeer was of age,
Unto hym seyde, fader, why do ye wepe?
Whanne wol the gayler bryngen oure potage?
Is ther no morsel breed that ye do kepe?
I am so hungry that I may nat slepe.
Now wolde God that I myghte slepen evere!
Thanne sholde nat hunger in my wombe crepe;
Ther is no thyng, save breed, that me were levere.
Thus day by day this child bigan to crye,
Til in his fadres barm adoun it lay,
And seyde, farewel, fader, I moot dye!
And kiste his fader, and dyde the same day.
And whan the woful fader deed it say,
For wo his armes two he gan to byte,
And seyde, allas, fortune, and weylaway!
Thy false wheel my wo al may I wyte.
His children wende that it for hunger was
That he his armes gnow, and nat for wo,
And seyde, fader, do nat so, allas!
But rather ete the flessh upon us two.
Oure flessh thou yaf us, take oure flessh us fro,
And ete ynogh, -- right thus they to hym seyde,
And after that, withinne a day or two,
They leyde hem in his lappe adoun and deyde.
Hymself, despeired, eek for hunger starf;
Thus ended is this myghty erl of pize.
From heigh estaat fortune awey hym carf.
Of this tragedie it oghte ynough suffise;
Whoso wol here it in a lenger wise,
Redeth the grete poete of ytaille
That highte dant, for he kan al devyse
Fro point to point, nat o word wol he faille.