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For tho three formes that thou hast in thee.
And Palamon, that hath swiche love to me,
And eke Arcite, that loveth me so sore,
This grace I praie thee withouten more;
As sende love and pees betwix hem two:
And fro me torne away hir hertes so,
That all hir hote love, and hir desire,
And all hir besy torment, and hir fire
Be queinte, or torned in another place.
And if so be thou wolt not do me grace,
Or if my destinee be shapen so,
That I shal nedes have on of hem two,
As send me him that most desireth me.
"Behold, goddesse of clene chastite,
The bitter teres, that on my chekes fall.
Sin thou art mayde, and keper of us all,
My maydenhed thou kepe and wel conserve,
And while I live, a mayde I wol thee serve."
The fires brenne upon the auter clere,
While Emelie was thus in hire praiere:
But sodenly she saw a sighte queinte.
For right anon on of the fires queinte,
And quiked again, and after that anon
That other fire was queinte, and all agon:
And as it queinte, it made a whisteling,
As don these brondes wet in hir brenning.
And at the brondes ende outran anon
As it were blody dropes many on:
For which so sore agast was Emelio,
That she was wel neigh mad, and gan to crie,
For she ne wiste what it signified;
But only for the fere thus she cried,
And wept, that it was pittee for to here.
And therwithall Diane gan appere
With bowe in hond, right as an hunteresse,
And sayde; "Doughter, stint thin hevinesse.
Among the goddes highe it is affermed,
And by eterne word written and confermed,
Thou shalt be wedded unto on of tho,
That han for thee so mochel care and wo:
But unto which of hem I may not tell.
Farewel, for here I may no longer dwell.
The fires which that on min auter brenne,
Shal thee declaren er that thou go henne,
Thin aventure of love, as in this cas."
And with that word, the arwes in the cas
Of the goddesse clatteren fast and ring,
And forth she went, and made a vanishing,
For which this Emelie astonied was,
And sayde; "What amounteth this, alas!
I putte me in thy protection,
Diane, and in thy disposition."
And home she goth anon the nexte way.
This is the effecte, ther n'is no more to say.
The nexte houre of Mars folwing this,
Arcite unto the temple walked is
Of fierce Mars, to don his sacrifise
With all the rites of his payen wise.
With pitous herte and high devotion,
Right thus to Mars he sayde his orison.
"O stronge god, that in the regnes cold Of Trace honoured art, and lord yhold,
And hast in every regne
Of armes all the bridel in thin hond,
And hem fortunest as thee list devise,
Accept of me my pitous sacrifise.
If so be that my youthe may deserve,
And that my might be worthy for to serve
Thy godhed, that I may ben on of thine,
Than praie I thee to rewe upon my pine,
For thilke peine, and thilke hote fire,
In which thou whilom brendest for desire
Whanne that thou usedst the beautee
Of fayre yonge Venus, freshe and free,
And haddest hire in armes at thy wille:
Although thee ones on a time misfille,
Whan Vulcanus had caught thee in his las,
And fond the ligging by his wif, alas!
For thilke sorwe that was tho in thin herte,
Have reuthe as wel upon my peines smerte.
“I am yonge and unkonning, as thou wost,
And, as I trow, with love offended most,
That ever was ony lives creature:
For she, that doth me all this wo endure,
Ne recceth never, whether I sinke or flete.
And wel I wot, or she me mercy hete,
I moste with strengthe win hire in the place:
And wel I wot, withouten helpe or grace
Of thee, he may my strengthe not availle:
Than helpe me, lord, to-morwe in my bataille.
Fore thilke fire that whilom brenned thee,
As wel as that this fire now brenneth me;
And do, that I to-morwe may han victorie.
Min be the travaille, and thin be the glorie.
Thy soveraine temple wol I most honouren
Of ony place, and alway most labouren
In thy plesance and in thy craftes strong.
And in thy temple I wol my baner hong,
And all the armes of my compagnie,
And evermore, until that day I die,
Eterne fire I wol beforne thee finde,
And eke to this avow I wol me binde.
My berd, my here that hangeth long adoun,
That never yet felt non offensioun
Of rasour ne of shere, I wol thee yeve,
And ben thy trewe servant while I live.
Now, lord, have reuthe upon my sorwes sore,
Yeve me the victorie, I axe thee no more."
The praier stint of Arcita the stronge,
The ringes on the temple dore that honge,
And eke the dores clattereden ful faste,
Of which Arcita somwhat him agaste.
The fires brent upon the auter bright,
That it gan all the temple for to light;
A sweete smell anon the ground up yaf,
And Arcita anon his hond up haf,
And more encense into the fire he cast,
With other rites mo, and at the last
The statue of Mars began his hauberke ring;
And with that soun he herd a murmuring
Ful low and dim, that sayde thus, "Victorie."
For which he yaf to Mars honour and glorie.
And thus with joye, and hope wel to fare, Arcite anon unto his inne is fare,
As fayn as foul is of the brighte Sonne.
And right anon swiche strif ther is begonne
For thilke granting, in the Heve above,
Betwixen Venus the goddesse of love,
And Mars the sterne god armipotent,
That Jupiter was besy it to stent:
Til that the pale Saturnus the colde,
That knew so many of aventures olde,
Fond in his olde experience and art,
That he ful sone hath plesed every part.
As sooth is sayd, elde hath gret avantage,
In elde is bothe wisdom and usage:
Men may the old out-renne, but not out-rede.
Saturne anon, to stenten strife and drede,
Al be it that it is again his kind,
Of all this strif he gan a remedy find.
"My dere doughter Venus," quod Saturne,
"My cours, that hath so wide for to turne,
Hath more power than wot any man.
Min is the drenching in the see so wan,
Min is the prison in the derke cote,
Min is the strangel and hanging by the throte,
The murmure, and the cherles rebelling,
The groyning, and the prive empoysoning.
I do vengeance and pleine correction,
While I dwell in the sign of the Leon.
Min is the ruine of the highe halles,
The falling of the toures and of the walles
Upon the minour, or the carpenter:
I slew Sampson in shaking the piler.
Min ben also the maladies colde,
The derke tresons, and the castes olde:
My loking is the fader of pestilence.
Now wepe no more, I shal do diligence,
That Palamon, that is thine owen knight,
Shal have his lady, as thou hast him hight,
Thogh Mars shal help his knight yet natheles.
Betwixen you ther mot sometime be pees:
And be ye not of o complexion,
That causeth all day swiche division.
I am thin ayel, redy at thy will;
Wepe now no more, I shal thy lust fulfill.”
Now wol I stenten of the goddes above,
Of Mars, and of Venus goddesse of love,
And tellen you as plainly as I can
The gret effect, for which that I began.
Gret was the feste in Athenes thilke day,
And eke the lusty seson of that May
Made every wight to ben in swiche plesance,
That all that Monday justen they and dance,
And spenden it in Venus highe servise.
But by the cause that they shulden rise
Erly a-morwe for to seen the fight,
Unto hir reste wenten they at night.
And on the morwe whan the day gan spring,
Of hors and harneis noise and clattering
Ther was in the hostelries all aboute:
And to the paleis rode ther many a route
Of lordes, upon stedes and palfreis.
Ther mayst thou see devising of harneis
So uncouth and so riche, and wrought so wele
Of goldsmithry, of brouding, and of stele;
The sheldes brighte, testeres, and trappures;
Gold-hewen helmes, hauberkes, cote-armures;
Lordes in parementes on hir courseres,
Knightes of retenue, and eke squieres,
Nailing the speres, and helmes bokeling,
Gniding of sheldes, with lainers lacing;
Ther as nede is, they weren nothing idel:
The fomy stedes on the golden bridel
Gnawing, and fast the armureres also
With file and hammer priking to and fro;
Yemen on foot, and communes many on
With shorte staves, thicke as they may gon;
Pipes, trompes, nakeres, and clariounes,
That in the bataille blowen bloody sounes;
The paleis ful of peple up and doun,
Here three, ther ten, holding hir questioun,
Devining of these Theban knightes two.
Som sayden thus, som sayde it shal be so;
Som helden with him with the blacke berd,
Som with the balled, som with the thick herd;
Som saide he loked grim, and wolde fighte:
He hath a sparth of twenty pound of wighte.
Thus was the halle full of devining
Long after that the Sonne gan up spring.
The gret Theseus that of his slepe is waked
With minstralcie and noise that was maked,
Held yet the chambre of his paleis riche,
Til that the Theban knightes bothe yliche
Honoured were, and to the paleis fette.
Duk Theseus is at a window sette,
Araied right as he were a god in trone:
The peple preseth thiderward ful sone
Him for to seen, and don high reverence,
And eke to herken his heste and his sentence.
An heraud on a scaffold made an O,
Till that the noise of the peple was ydo:
And whan he saw the peple of noise al still,
Thus shewed he the mighty dukes will.
"The lord hath of his high discretion
Considered, that it were destruction
To gentil blood, to fighten in the gise
Of mortal bataille now in this emprise :
Wherfore to shapen that they shul not die,
He wol his firste purpos modifie.
"No man therfore up peine of losse of lif, No maner shot, ne pollax, ne short knif Into the listes send, or thider bring. Ne short swerd for to stike with point biting No man ne draw, ne bere it by his side. Ne no man shal unto his felaw ride But o cours, with a sharpe ygrounden spere: Foin if him list on foot, himself to were. And he that is at meschief, shal be take, And not slaine, but be brought unto the stake, That shal ben ordeined on eyther side, Thider he shal by force, and ther abide. And if so fall, the chevetain be take On eyther side, or elles sleth his make, No longer shal the tourneying ylast. God spede you; goth forth and lay on fast. With longe swerd and with mase fighteth your fill. Goth now your way; this is the lordes will."
The vois of the peple touched to the Heven, So loude crieden they with mery steven; "God save swiche a lord that is so good, He wilneth no destruction of blood."
Up gon the trompes and the melodie,
And to the listes rit the compagnie
By ordinance, thurghout the cite large,
Hanged with cloth of gold, and not with sarge.
Ful like a lord this noble duk gan ride,
And these two Thebans upon eyther side:
And after rode the quene and Emelie,
And after that another compagnie
Of on and other, after his degree.
And thus they passen thurghout the citee,
And to the listes comen they be time:
It n'as not of the day yet fully prime.
Whan set was Theseus ful rich and hie,
Ipolita the quene, and Emelie,
And other ladies in degrees aboute,
Unto the sethes preseth all the route.
And westward, thurgh the gates under Mart,
Arcite, and eke the hundred of his part,
With baner red, is entred right anon;
And in the selve moment Palamon
Is, under Venus, estward in the place,
With baner white, and hardy chere and face.
In all the world, to seken up and doun,
So even without variatioun
Ther n'ere swiche compagnies never twey.
For ther was non so wise that coude sey,
That any hadde of other avantage
Of worthinesse, ne of estat, ne age,
So even were they chosen for to gesse.
And in two renges fayre they hem dresse.
Whan that hir names red were everich on,
That in hir nombre gile were ther non,
Tho were the gates shette, and cried was loude: "Do now your devoir, yonge knightes proude."
The heraudes left hir priking up and doun.
Now ringen trompes loud and clarioun.
Ther is no more to say, but est and west
In gon the speres sadly in the rest;
In goth the sharpe spore into the side.
Ther see men who can juste, and who can ride
Ther shiveren shaftes upon sheldes thicke;
He feleth thurgh the herte-spone the pricke.
Up springen speres twenty foot on highte;
Out gon the swerdes as the silver brighte.
The helmes they to-hewen, and to-shrede;
Out brest the blod, with sterne stremes rede.
With mighty maces the bones they to-breste.
He thurgh the thickest of the throng gan threste.
Ther stomblen stedes strong, and doun goth all.
He rolleth under foot as doth a ball.
He foineth on his foo with a tronchoun,
And he him hurtleth with his hors adoun.
He thurgh the body is hurt, and sith ytake
Maugre his hed, and brought unto the stake,
As forword was, right ther he must abide.
Another lad is on that other side.
And somtime doth hem Theseus to rest,
Hem to refresh, and drinken if hem lest.
Ful oft a day han thilke Thebanes two
Togeder met, and wrought eche other wo:
Unhorsed hath eche other of hem twey.
Ther n'as no tigre in the vale of Galaphey,
Whan that hire whelpe is stole, whan it is lite,
So cruel on the hunt, as is Arcite
For jalous herte upon this Palamon:
Ne in Belmarie ther n'is so fell leon,
That hunted is, or for his hunger wood,
Ne of his prey desireth so the blood,
As Palamon to sleen his foo Arcite.
The jalous strokes on hir helmes bite;
Out renneth blood on both hir sides rede.
Somtime an ende ther is of every dede.
For er the Sonne unto the reste went,
The stronge king Emetrius gan hent
This Palamon, as he fought with Arcite,
And made his swerd depe in his flesh to bite.
And by the force of twenty is he take
Unyolden, and ydrawen to the stake.
And in the rescous of this Palamon
The strong king Licurge is borne adoun:
And king Emetrius for all his strengthe
Is borne out of his sadel a swerdes lengthe,
So hitte him Palamon or he were take:
But all for nought, he was brought to the stake:
His hardy herte might him helpen naught,
He moste abiden, whan that he was caught,
By force, and eke by composition.
Who sorweth now but woful Palamon?
That moste no more gon again to fight.
And whan that Theseus had seen that sight,
Unto the folk that foughten thus eche on,
He cried, "Ho! no more, for it is don.
I wol be trewe juge, and not partie.
Arcite of Thebes shal have Emelie,
That by his fortune hath hire fayre ywonne."
Anon ther is a noise of peple begonne
For joye of this, so loud and high withall,
It semed that the listes shulden fall.
What can now fayre Venus don above?
What saith she now? what doth this quene of love?
But wepeth so, for wanting of hire will,
Til that hire teres in the listes fill:
She sayde: "I am ashamed douteless."
Saturnus sayde: "Daughter, hold thy pees.
Mars hath his will, his knight hath all his bone,
And by min hed thou shalt ben esed sone."
The trompoures with the loude minstralcie,
The heraudes, that so loude yell and crie,
Ben in hir joye for wele of Dan Arcite.
But herkeneth me, and stenteth noise a lite,
Whiche a miracle ther befell anon.
This fierce Arcite hath of his helme ydon,
And on a courser for to shew his face
He priketh endelong the large place,
Loking upward upon this Emelie;
And she again him cast a friendlich eye,
(For women, as to speken in commune,
They folwen all the favour of fortune)
And was all his in chere, as his in herte.
Out of the ground a fury infernal sterte,
From Pluto sent, at requeste of Saturno,
For which his hors for fere gan to turne,
And lepte aside, and foundred as he lepe:
And er that Arcite may take any kepe,
He pight him on the pomel of his hed,
That in the place he lay as he were ded,
His brest to-brosten with his sadel bow.
As blake he lay as any cole or crow,
So was the blood yronnen in his face.
Anon he was yborne out of the place
With herte sore, to Theseus paleis.
Tho was he corven out of his harneis,
And in a bed ybrought ful fayre and blive,
For he was yet in memorie, and live,
And alway crying after Emelie.
Duk Theseus, with all his compagnie,
Is comen home to Athenes his citee,
With alle blisse and gret solempnite.
Al be it that this aventure was falle,
He n'olde not discomforten hem alle.
Men sayden eke, that Arcite shal not die,
He shal ben heled of his maladie.
And of another thing they were as fayn,
That of hem alle was ther non yslain,
Al were they sore yhurt, and namely on,
That with a spere was thirled his brest bone.
To other woundes, and to broken armes,
Som hadden salves, and some hadden charmes:
And fermacies of herbes, and eke save
They dronken, for they wold hir lives have.
For which this noble duk, as he wel can,
Comforteth and honoureth every man,
And made revel all the longe night,
Unto the strange lordes, as was right.
Ne ther n'as holden no discomforting,
But as at justes or a tourneying;
For sothly ther n'as no discomfiture,
For falling n'is not but an aventure.
Ne to be lad by force unto a stake
Unyolden, and with twenty knightes take,
O person all alone, withouten mo,
And haried forth by armes, foot, and too,
And eke his stede driven forth with staves,
With footmen, bothe yemen and eke knaves,
It was aretted him no vilanie:
Ther may no man clepen it cowardie.
For which anon duk Theseus let crie,
To stenten alle rancour and envie,
The gree as wel of o side as of other,
And eyther side ylike, as others brother:
And yave hem giftes after hir degree,
And helde a feste fully dayes three:
And conveyed the kinges worthily
Out of his toun a journee largely.
And home went every man the righte way,
Ther n'as no more, but farewel, have good day.
Of this battaille I wol no more endite,
But speke of Palamon and of Arcite.
Swelleth the brest of Arcite, and the sure
Encreseth at his herte more and more.
The clotered blood, for any leche-craft,
Corrumpeth, and is in his bouke ylaft,
That neyther veine-blood, ne ventousing,
Ne drinke of herbes may ben his helping.
The vertue expulsif, or animal,
Fro thilke vertue cleped natural,
Ne may the venime voiden, ne expell.
The pipes of his longes gan to swell,
And every lacerte in his brest adoun
Is shent with venime and corruptioun.
Him gaineth neyther, for to get his lif,
Vomit upward, ne dounward laxatif;
All is to-brosten thilke region;
Nature hath now no domination
And certainly ther nature wol not werche,
Farewel physike: go bere the man to cherche,
This is all and som, that Arcite moste die.
For which he sendeth after Emelie,
And Palamon, that was his cosin dere.
Than sayd he thus, as ye shuin after here.
"Nought may the woful spirit in myn herte
Declare o point of all my sorwes smerte
To you, my lady, that I love most;
But I bequethe the service of my gost
To you aboven every creature,
Sin that my lif ne may no lenger dure.
"Alas the wo! alas the peines stronge,
That I for you have suffered, and so longe!
Alas the deth! alas min Emelie!
Alas departing of our compagnie!
Alas min hertes quene! alas my wif!
Min hertes ladie, ender of my lif!
What is this world? what axen men to have?
Now with his love, now in his colde grave
Alone withouten any compagnie.
Farewel my swete, farewel min Emelie,
And softe take me in your armes twey,
For love of God, and herkeneth what I sey.
"I have here with my cosin Palamon
Had strif and rancour many a day agon
For love of you, and for my jalousie.
And Jupiter so wis my soule gie,
To speken of a servant proprely,
With alle circumstances trewely,
That is to sayn, trouth, honour, and knighthede,
Wisdom, humblesse, estat, and high kinrede,
Fredom, and all that longeth to that art,
So Jupiter have of my soule part,
As in this world right now ne know I non,
So worthy to be loved as Palamon,
That serveth you, and wol don all his lif.
And if that ever ye shall ben a wif,
Foryete not Palamon the gentil man."
And with that word his speche faille began.
For from his feet up to his brest was come
The cold of deth, that had him overnome.
And yet moreover in his armes two
The vital strength is lost, and all ago.
Only the intellect, withouten more,
That dwelled in his herte sike and sore,
Gan feillen, whan the herte felte deth;
Dusked his eyen two, and failled his breth.
But on his ladie yet cast he his eye;
His laste word was; "Mercy, Emelie !"
His spirit changed house, and wente ther,
As I came never I cannot tellen wher,
Therfore I stent, I am no divinistre ;
Of soules find I not in this registre.
Ne me lust not th' opinions to telle
Of hem, though that they writen wher they dwelle.
THE WIF OF BATHES PROLOGUE. "Experience, though non auctoritee Were in this world, is right ynough for me To speke of wo that is in mariage: For, lordings, sin I twelf yere was of age, (Thanked be God that is eterne on live) Husbondes at chirche dore have I had five, (If I so often might han wedded be) And all were worthy men in hir degree.
"But me was told, not longe time agon is,
That sithen Crist ne went never but onis
To wedding, in the Cane of Galilee,
That by that ilke ensample taught he me,
That I ne shulde wedded be but ones.
Lo, herke eke, which a sharpe word for the nones,
Beside a welle Jesu, God and man,
Spake in reprefe of the Samaritan:
"Thou hast yhadde five husbonds, sayde he;
And thilke man, that now hath wedded thee,
Is not thyn husbond:" thus said he certain;
What that he ment therby, I can not sain,
But that I aske, why that the fifthe man
Was non husbond to the Samaritan?
How many might she have in mariage?
Yet herd I never tellen in min age
Upon this noumbre diffinitioun ;
Men may devine, and glosen up and doun.
"But wel I wot, expresse withouten lie
God bad us for to wex and multiplie;
That gentil text can I wel understond.
Eke wel I wot, he sayd, that min husbond
Shuld leve fader and moder, and take to me;
But of no noumbre mention made he,
Of bigamie or of octogamie;
Why shulde men than speke of it vilanie?
"Lo here the wise king dan Solomon,
I trow he hadde wives mo than on, (As wolde God it leful were to me
To be refreshed half so oft as he)
Which a gift of God had he for alle his wives?
No man hath swiche, that in this world on live is.
Got wot, this noble king, as to my witte,
The firste night had many a mery fitte
With eche of hem, so wel was him on live.
Blessed be God that I have wedded five,
Welcome the sixthe whan that ever he shall.
For sith I wol not kepe me chaste in all,
Whan min husbond is fro the world ygon,
Som Cristen man shal wedden me anon.
For than the apostle saith, that I am fre
To wedde, a' Goddes half, wher it liketh me.
He saith that to be wedded is no sinne;
Better is to be wedded than to brinne.
"What rekketh me though folk say vilanie Of shrewed Lamech, and his bigamie? I wot wel Abraham was an holy man, And Jacob eke, as fer as ever I can, And eche of hem had wives mo than two, And many another holy man also. Wher can ye seen in any maner age That highe God defended mariage By expresse word? I pray you telleth me, Or wher commanded he virginitee?
"I wot as wel as ye, it is no drede, The apostle, whan he spake of maidenhede, He said, that preeept therof had he non: Men may conseille a woman to ben on, But conseilling is no commandement; He put it in our owen jugement.
"Now sires; than wol I tell you forth my tale. As ever mote I drinken win or ale
I shal say soth, the husbondes that I had
As three of them were good, and two were bad.
The three were goode men and riche and olde.
Unethes mighten they the statute holde,
In which that they were bounden unto me.
Ye wot wel what I mene of this parde.
As God me helpe, I laugh whan that I thinke,
How pitously a-night I made hem swinke,
But by my fay, I tolde of it no store:
They had me yeven hir lond and hir tresore,
Me neded not do lenger diligence
To win hir love, or don hem reverence.
They loved me so wel by God above,
That I ne tolde no deintee of hir love.
A wise woman wol besy hire ever in on
To geten hir love, ther as she hath non.
But sith I had hem holly in min hond,
And that they hadde yeven me all hir lond,
What shuld I taken kepe hem for to plese,
But it were for my profit, or min ese?
I set hem so a-werke by my fay,
That many a night they songen "Wala wa."
The bacon was not fit for hem, I trow,
That som men have in Essex at Donmow.
I governed hem so wel after my lawe,
That eche of hem ful blisful was and fawe
To bringen me gay thinges fro the feyre.
They were ful glade whan I spake hem fayre.
For God it wot, I chidde hem spitously.
Now herkeneth how I bare me proprely.
"Ye wise wives, that can understond,
Thus shul ye speke, and bere hem wrong on hond,
For half so boldely can ther no man
Sweren and lien as a woman can.
(I say not this by wives that ben wise,
But if it be whan they hem misavise.)
A wise wif if that she can hire good,
Shal beren hem on hond the cow is wood,
And taken witnesse of hire owen mayd
Of hir assent: but herkeneth how I sayd.
"Sire olde Kaynard, is this thin aray?
Why is my neigheboures wif so gay?