The Canterbury tales
Geoffrey Chaucer
F.N. Robinson

Zenobia

Cenobia, of palymerie queene,
     2247
As writen persiens of hir noblesse,
     2248
So worthy was in armes and so keene,
     2249
That no wight passed hire in hardynesse,
     2250
Ne in lynage, ne in oother gentillesse.
     2251
Of kynges blood of perce is she descended.
     2252
I seye nat that she hadde moost fairnesse,
     2253
But of his shap she myghte nat been amended.
     2254
From hire childhede I fynde that she fledde
     2255
Office of wommen, and to wode she wente,
     2256
And many a wolde hertes blood she shedde
     2257
With arwes brode that she to hem sente.
     2258
She was so swift that she anon hem hente;
     2259
And whan that she was elder, she wolde
     2260
Leouns, leopardes, and beres al torente,
     2261
And in hire armes weelde hem at hir wille.
     2262
She dorste wilde beestes dennes seke,
     2263
And rennen in the montaignes al the nyght,
     2264
And slepen under a bussh, and she koude eke
     2265
Wrastlen, by verray force and varray myght,
     2266
With any yong man, were he never so wight.
     2267
Ther myghte no thyng in hir armes stonde.
     2268
She kepte hir maydenhod from every wight;
     2269
To no man deigned hire for to be bonde.
     2270
But atte laste hir freendes han hire maried
     2271
To odenake, a prynce of that contree,
     2272
Al were it so that she hem longe taried.
     2273
And ye shul understonde how that he
     2274
Hadde swiche fantasies as hadde she.
     2275
But natheless, whan they were knyt in-feere,
     2276
They lyved in joye and in felicitee;
     2277
For ech of hem hadde oother lief and deere.
     2278
Save o thyng, that she wolde nevere assente,
     2279
By no wey, that he sholde by hire lye
     2280
But ones, for it was hire pleyn entente
     2281
To have a child, the world to multiplye;
     2282
And also soone as that she myghte espye
     2283
That she was nat with childe with that dede
     2284
Thanne wolde she suffre hym doon his fantasye
     2285
Eft-soone, and nat but oones, out of drede. Page  193
     2286
And if she were with childe at thilke cast,
     2287
Namoore sholde he pleyen thilke game
     2288
Til fully fourty wikes weren past;
     2289
Thanne wolde she ones suffre hym do the same.
     2290
Al were this odenake wolde or tame,
     2291
He gat namoore of hire, for thus she seyde,
     2292
It was to wyves lecherie and shame,
     2293
In oother caas, if that men with hem pleyde.
     2294
Two sones by this odenake hadde she,
     2295
The whiche she kepte in verty and lettrure;
     2296
But now unto oure tale turne we.
     2297
I seye, so worshipful a creature,
     2298
And wys therwith, and large with mesure,
     2299
So penyble in the werre, and curteis eke,
     2300
Ne moore laboure myghte in werre endure,
     2301
Was noon, though al this world men sholde seke.
     2302
Hir riche array ne myghte nat be told,
     2303
As wel in vessel as in hire clothyng.
     2304
She was al clad in perree and in gold,
     2305
And eek she lafte noght, for noon huntyng,
     2306
To have of sondry tonges ful knowyng,
     2307
Whan that she leyser hadde; and for to entende
     2308
To lerne bookes was al hire likyng,
     2309
How she in vertu myghte hir lyf dispende.
     2310
And shortly of this storie for to trete,
     2311
So doghty was hir housbonde and eek she,
     2312
That they conquered manye regnes grete
     2313
In the orient, with many a fair citee
     2314
Apertanaunt unto the magestee
     2315
Of rome, and with strong hond held hem ful faste,
     2316
Ne nevere myghte hir foomen doon hem flee,
     2317
Ay whil that odenakes dayes laste.
     2318
Hir batailles, whoso list hem for to rede,
     2319
Agayn spor the kyng and othere mo,
     2320
And how that al this proces fil in dede,
     2321
Why she conquered, and what title had therto,
     2322
And after, of hir meschief and hire wo,
     2323
How that she was biseged and ytake, --
     2324
Lat hym unto my maister petrak go,
     2325
That writ ynough of this, I undertake.
     2326
Whan odenake was deed, she myghtily
     2327
The regnes heeld, and with hire propre hond
     2328
Agayn hir foos she faught so cruelly
     2329
That ther nas kyng ne prynce in al that lond
     2330
That he nas glad, if he that grace fond,
     2331
That she ne wolde upon his lond werreye.
     2332
With hire they maden alliance by bond
     2333
To been in pees, and lete hire ride and pleye.
     2334
The emperour of rome, claudius
     2335
Ne hym bifore, the romayn galien,
     2336
Ne dorste nevere been so corageus,
     2337
Ne noon ermyn, ne noon egipcien,
     2338
Ne surrien, ne noon arabyen,
     2339
Withinne the feeld that dorste with hire fighte,
     2340
Lest that she wolde hem with hir handes slen,
     2341
Or with hir meignee putten hem to flighte.
     2342
In kynges habit wente hir sones two,
     2343
As heires of hir fadres regnes alle,
     2344
And hermanno and thymalao
     2345
Hir names were, as persiens hem calle.
     2346
But ay fortune hath in hire hony galle;
     2347
This myghty queene may no while endure.
     2348
Fortune out of hir regne made hire falle
     2349
To wrecchednesse and to mysaventure.
     2350
Aurelian, whan that the governaunce
     2351
Of rome cam into his handes tweye,
     2352
He shoop upon this queene to doon vengeaunce.
     2353
And with his legions he took his weye
     2354
Toward cenobie, and shortly for to seye,
     2355
He made hire flee, and atte laste hire hente,
     2356
And fettred hire, and eek hire children tweye,
     2357
And wan the land, and hoom to rome he wente.
     2358
Amonges othere thynges that he wan,
     2359
Hir chaar, that was with gold wroght and perree,
     2360
This grete romayn, this aurelian,
     2361
Hath with hym lad, for that men sholde it see.
     2362
Biforen his triumphe walketh shee,
     2363
With gilte cheynes on hire nekke hangynge.
     2364
Coroned was she, as after hir degree,
     2365
And ful of perree charged hire clothynge.
     2366
Allas, fortune! she that whilom was
     2367
Dredeful to kynges and to emperoures,
     2368
Now gaureth al the peple on hire, allas!
     2369
And she that helmed was in starke stoures,
     2370
And wan by force townes stronge and toures,
     2371
Shal on hir heed now were a vitremyte;
     2372
And she that bar the ceptre ful of floures
     2373
Shal bere a distaf, hire cost for to quyte
     2374