The Canterbury tales
Geoffrey Chaucer
F.N. Robinson


Loo sampsoun, which that was annunciat
By th' angel, longe er his nativitee,
And was to God almyghty consecrat,
And stood in noblesse whil he myghte see.
Was nevere swich another as was hee,
To speke of strengthe, and threwith hardynesse; Page  190
But to his wyves toolde he his secree,
Thurgh which he slow hymself for wrecchednesse.
Sampsoun, this noble almyghty champioun,
Withouten wepen, save his handes tweye,
He slow and al torente the leoun,
Toward his weddyng walkynge by the weye.
His false wyf koude hym so plese and preye
Til she his conseil knew; and she, untrewe,
Unto his foos his conseil gan biwreye,
And hym forsook, and took another newe.
Thre hundred foxes took sampson for ire,
And alle hir tayles he togydre bond,
And sette the foxes tayles alle on fire,
For he on every tayl had knyt a brond;
And they brende alle the cornes in that lond,
And alle hire olyveres, and vynes eke.
A thousand men he slow eek with his hond,
And hadde no wepen but an asses cheke.
Whan they were slayn, so thursted hym that he
Was wel ny lorn, for which he gan to preye
That God wolde on his peyne han some pitee,
And sende hym drynke, or elles moste he deye;
And of this asses cheke, that was dreye,
Out of a wang-tooth sprang anon a welle,
Of which he drank ynogh, shortly to seye;
Thus heelp hym god, as judicum telle.
By verray force at gazan, on a nyght,
Maugree philistiens of that citee,
The gates of the toun he hath up plyght,
And on his bak ycaryed hem hath hee
Hye on an hill whereas men myghte hem see.
O noble, almyghty sampsoun, lief and deere,
Had thou nat toold to wommen thy secree,
In al this world ne hadde been thy peere!
This sampson nevere ciser drank ne wyn,
Ne on his heed cam rasour noon ne sheere,
By precept of the messager divyn,
For alle his strengthes in his heeres weere.
And fully twenty wynter, yeer by yeere,
He hadde of israel the governaunce.
But soone shal he wepe many a teere,
For wommen shal hym bryngen to meschaunce!
Unto his lemman dalida he tolde
That in his heeris al his strengthe lay,
And falsly to his foomen she hym solde.
And slepynge in hir barm, upon a day,
She made to clippe or shere his heres away,
And made his foomen al his craft espyen;
And whan that they hym foond in this array,
They bounde hym faste and putten out his yen.
But er his heere were clipped or yshave,
Ther was no boond with which men myghte him bynde;
But now is he in prison in a cave,
Were-as they made hym at the queerne grynde.
O noble sampsoun, strongest of mankynde,
O whilom juge, in glorie and in richesse!
Now maystow wepen with thyne eyen blynde,
Sith thou fro wele art falle in wrecchednesse.
The ende of this caytyf was as I shal seye.
His foomen made a feeste upon a day,
And made hym as hire fool biforn hem pleye;
And this was in a temple of greet array.
But atte laste he made a foul affray;
For he two pilers shook and made hem falle,
And doun fil temple and al, and ther it lay, --
And slow hymself, and eek his foomen alle.
This is to seyn, the prynces everichoon,
And eek thre thousand bodyes, were ther slayn
With fallynge of the grete temple of stoon.
Of sampson now wol I namoore sayn.
Beth war by this ensample oold and playn
That nomen telle hir conseil til hir wyves
Of swich thyng as they wolde han secree fayn,
If that it touche hir lymes or hir lyves.