Troilus and criseyde, p.1
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       Troilus and Criseyde, p.1

           Geoffrey Chaucer
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Troilus and Criseyde

  [OMACL release #5]

  Troilus and Criseyde


  Geoffrey Chaucer

  (1343 - 1400)

  The following electronic text is based on that edition of the


  W.W. Skeat (Oxford, 1900). This text is in the PUBLIC DOMAIN.

  This electronic edition was edited, proofed, and prepared by

  Douglas B. Killings ([email protected]), March 1995, based upon a

  previous e-text of unknown origin. Additional assistance

  provided by Diane M. Brendan.



  1 The double sorwe of Troilus to tellen,

  That was the king Priamus sone of Troye,

  In lovinge, how his aventures fellen

  Fro wo to wele, and after out of Ioye,

  5 My purpos is, er that I parte fro ye.

  Thesiphone, thou help me for tendyte

  Thise woful vers, that wepen as I wryte!

  To thee clepe I, thou goddesse of torment,

  Thou cruel Furie, sorwing ever in peyne;

  10 Help me, that am the sorwful instrument

  That helpeth lovers, as I can, to pleyne!

  For wel sit it, the sothe for to seyne,

  A woful wight to han a drery fere,

  And, to a sorwful tale, a sory chere.

  15 For I, that god of Loves servaunts serve,

  Ne dar to Love, for myn unlyklinesse,

  Preyen for speed, al sholde I therfor sterve,

  So fer am I fro his help in derknesse;

  But nathelees, if this may doon gladnesse

  20 To any lover, and his cause avayle,

  Have he my thank, and myn be this travayle!

  But ye loveres, that bathen in gladnesse,

  If any drope of pitee in yow be,

  Remembreth yow on passed hevinesse

  25 That ye han felt, and on the adversitee

  Of othere folk, and thenketh how that ye

  Han felt that Love dorste yow displese;

  Or ye han wonne hym with to greet an ese.

  And preyeth for hem that ben in the cas

  30 Of Troilus, as ye may after here,

  That love hem bringe in hevene to solas,

  And eek for me preyeth to god so dere,

  That I have might to shewe, in som manere,

  Swich peyne and wo as Loves folk endure,

  35 In Troilus unsely aventure.

  And biddeth eek for hem that been despeyred

  In love, that never nil recovered be,

  And eek for hem that falsly been apeyred

  Thorugh wikked tonges, be it he or she;

  40 Thus biddeth god, for his benignitee,

  So graunte hem sone out of this world to pace,

  That been despeyred out of Loves grace.

  And biddeth eek for hem that been at ese,

  That god hem graunte ay good perseveraunce,

  45 And sende hem might hir ladies so to plese,

  That it to Love be worship and plesaunce.

  For so hope I my soule best avaunce,

  To preye for hem that Loves servaunts be,

  And wryte hir wo, and live in charitee.

  50 And for to have of hem compassioun

  As though I were hir owene brother dere.

  Now herkeneth with a gode entencioun,

  For now wol I gon streight to my matere,

  In whiche ye may the double sorwes here

  55 Of Troilus, in loving of Criseyde,

  And how that she forsook him er she deyde.

  It is wel wist, how that the Grekes stronge

  In armes with a thousand shippes wente

  To Troyewardes, and the citee longe

  60 Assegeden neigh ten yeer er they stente,

  And, in diverse wyse and oon entente,

  The ravisshing to wreken of Eleyne,

  By Paris doon, they wroughten al hir peyne.

  Now fil it so, that in the toun ther was

  65 Dwellinge a lord of greet auctoritee,

  A gret devyn that cleped was Calkas,

  That in science so expert was, that he

  Knew wel that Troye sholde destroyed be,

  By answere of his god, that highte thus,

  70 Daun Phebus or Apollo Delphicus.

  So whan this Calkas knew by calculinge,

  And eek by answere of this Appollo,

  That Grekes sholden swich a peple bringe,

  Thorugh which that Troye moste been for-do,

  75 He caste anoon out of the toun to go;

  For wel wiste he, by sort, that Troye sholde

  Destroyed ben, ye, wolde who-so nolde.

  For which, for to departen softely

  Took purpos ful this forknowinge wyse,

  80 And to the Grekes ost ful prively

  He stal anoon; and they, in curteys wyse,

  Hym deden bothe worship and servyse,

  In trust that he hath conning hem to rede

  In every peril which that is to drede.

  85 The noyse up roos, whan it was first aspyed,

  Thorugh al the toun, and generally was spoken,

  That Calkas traytor fled was, and allyed

  With hem of Grece; and casten to ben wroken

  On him that falsly hadde his feith so broken;

  90 And seyden, he and al his kin at ones

  Ben worthy for to brennen, fel and bones.

  Now hadde Calkas left, in this meschaunce,

  Al unwist of this false and wikked dede,

  His doughter, which that was in gret penaunce,

  95 For of hir lyf she was ful sore in drede,

  As she that niste what was best to rede;

  For bothe a widowe was she, and allone

  Of any freend to whom she dorste hir mone.

  Criseyde was this lady name a-right;

  100 As to my dome, in al Troyes citee

  Nas noon so fair, for passing every wight

  So aungellyk was hir natyf beautee,

  That lyk a thing immortal semed she,

  As doth an hevenish parfit creature,

  105 That doun were sent in scorning of nature.

  This lady, which that al-day herde at ere

  Hir fadres shame, his falsnesse and tresoun,

  Wel nigh out of hir wit for sorwe and fere,

  In widewes habit large of samit broun,

  110 On knees she fil biforn Ector a-doun;

  With pitous voys, and tendrely wepinge,

  His mercy bad, hir-selven excusinge.

  Now was this Ector pitous of nature,

  And saw that she was sorwfully bigoon,

  115 And that she was so fair a creature;

  Of his goodnesse he gladed hir anoon,

  And seyde, `Lat your fadres treson goon

  Forth with mischaunce, and ye your-self, in Ioye,
  Dwelleth with us, whyl you good list, in Troye.

  120 `And al thonour that men may doon yow have,

  As ferforth as your fader dwelled here,

  Ye shul han, and your body shal men save,

  As fer as I may ought enquere or here.'

  And she him thonked with ful humble chere,

  125 And ofter wolde, and it hadde ben his wille,

  And took hir leve, and hoom, and held hir stille.

  And in hir hous she abood with swich meynee

  As to hir honour nede was to holde;

  And whyl she was dwellinge in that citee,

  130 Kepte hir estat, and bothe of yonge and olde

  Ful wel beloved, and wel men of hir tolde.

  But whether that she children hadde or noon,

  I rede it naught; therfore I late it goon.

  The thinges fellen, as they doon of werre,

  135 Bitwixen hem of Troye and Grekes ofte;

  For som day boughten they of Troye it derre,

  And eft the Grekes founden no thing softe

  The folk of Troye; and thus fortune on-lofte,

  And under eft, gan hem to wheelen bothe

  140 After hir cours, ay whyl they were wrothe.

  But how this toun com to destruccioun

  Ne falleth nought to purpos me to telle;

  For it were a long digressioun

  Fro my matere, and yow to longe dwelle.

  145 But the Troyane gestes, as they felle,

  In Omer, or in Dares, or in Dyte,

  Who-so that can, may rede hem as they wryte.

  But though that Grekes hem of Troye shetten,

  And hir citee bisegede al a-boute,

  150 Hir olde usage wolde they not letten,

  As for to honoure hir goddes ful devoute;

  But aldermost in honour, out of doute,

  They hadde a relik hight Palladion,

  That was hir trist a-boven everichon.

  155 And so bifel, whan comen was the tyme

  Of Aperil, whan clothed is the mede

  With newe grene, of lusty Ver the pryme,

  And swote smellen floures whyte and rede,

  In sondry wyses shewed, as I rede,

  160 The folk of Troye hir observaunces olde,

  Palladiones feste for to holde.

  And to the temple, in al hir beste wyse,

  In general, ther wente many a wight,

  To herknen of Palladion servyse;

  165 And namely, so many a lusty knight,

  So many a lady fresh and mayden bright,

  Ful wel arayed, bothe moste and leste,

  Ye, bothe for the seson and the feste.

  Among thise othere folk was Criseyda,

  170 In widewes habite blak; but nathelees,

  Right as our firste lettre is now an A,

  In beautee first so stood she, makelees;

  Hir godly looking gladede al the prees.

  Nas never seyn thing to ben preysed derre,

  175 Nor under cloude blak so bright a sterre

  As was Criseyde, as folk seyde everichoon

  That hir behelden in hir blake wede;

  And yet she stood ful lowe and stille alloon,

  Bihinden othere folk, in litel brede,

  180 And neigh the dore, ay under shames drede,

  Simple of a-tyr, and debonaire of chere,

  With ful assured loking and manere.

  This Troilus, as he was wont to gyde

  His yonge knightes, ladde hem up and doun

  185 In thilke large temple on every syde,

  Biholding ay the ladyes of the toun,

  Now here, now there, for no devocioun

  Hadde he to noon, to reven him his reste,

  But gan to preyse and lakken whom him leste.

  190 And in his walk ful fast he gan to wayten

  If knight or squyer of his companye

  Gan for to syke, or lete his eyen bayten

  On any woman that he coude aspye;

  He wolde smyle, and holden it folye,

  195 And seye him thus, `god wot, she slepeth softe

  For love of thee, whan thou tornest ful ofte!

  `I have herd told, pardieux, of your livinge,

  Ye lovers, and your lewede observaunces,

  And which a labour folk han in winninge

  200 Of love, and, in the keping, which doutaunces;

  And whan your preye is lost, wo and penaunces;

  O verrey foles! nyce and blinde be ye;

  Ther nis not oon can war by other be.'

  And with that word he gan cast up the browe,

  205 Ascaunces, `Lo! is this nought wysly spoken?'

  At which the god of love gan loken rowe

  Right for despyt, and shoop for to ben wroken;

  He kidde anoon his bowe nas not broken;

  For sodeynly he hit him at the fulle;

  210 And yet as proud a pekok can he pulle.

  O blinde world, O blinde entencioun!

  How ofte falleth al theffect contraire

  Of surquidrye and foul presumpcioun;

  For caught is proud, and caught is debonaire.

  215 This Troilus is clomben on the staire,

  And litel weneth that he moot descenden.

  But al-day falleth thing that foles ne wenden.

  As proude Bayard ginneth for to skippe

  Out of the wey, so priketh him his corn,

  220 Til he a lash have of the longe whippe,

  Than thenketh he, `Though I praunce al biforn

  First in the trays, ful fat and newe shorn,

  Yet am I but an hors, and horses lawe

  I moot endure, and with my feres drawe.'

  225 So ferde it by this fers and proude knight;

  Though he a worthy kinges sone were,

  And wende nothing hadde had swiche might

  Ayens his wil that sholde his herte stere,

  Yet with a look his herte wex a-fere,

  230 That he, that now was most in pryde above,

  Wex sodeynly most subget un-to love.

  For-thy ensample taketh of this man,

  Ye wyse, proude, and worthy folkes alle,

  To scornen Love, which that so sone can

  235 The freedom of your hertes to him thralle;

  For ever it was, and ever it shal bifalle,

  That Love is he that alle thing may binde;

  For may no man for-do the lawe of kinde.

  That this be sooth, hath preved and doth yet;

  240 For this trowe I ye knowen, alle or some,

  Men reden not that folk han gretter wit

  Than they that han be most with love y-nome;

  And strengest folk ben therwith overcome,

  The worthiest and grettest of degree:

  245 This was, and is, and yet men shal it see.

  And trewelich it sit wel to be so;

  For alderwysest han ther-with ben plesed;

  And they that han ben aldermost in wo,

  With love han ben conforted most and esed;

  250 And ofte it hath the cruel herte apesed,

  And worthy folk maad worthier of name,

  And causeth most to dreden vyce and shame.

  Now sith it may not goodly be

  And is a thing so vertuous in kinde,

  255 Refuseth not to Love for to be bonde,

  Sin, as him-selven list, he may yow binde.

  The yerde is bet that bowen wole and winde

  Than that that brest; and therfor I yow rede

  To folwen him that so wel can yow lede.

  260 But for to tellen forth in special

  As of this kinges sone of which I tolde,

  And leten other thing collateral,

  Of him thenke I my tale for to holde,

  Both of his Ioye, and of his cares colde;

  265 And al his werk, as touching this matere,

  For I it gan, I wol ther-to refere.

  With-inne the temple he wente him forth pleyinge,

  This Troilus, of every wight aboute,

  On this lady and now on that lokinge,

  270 Wher-so she were of toune, or of with-oute:

  And up-on cas bifel, that thorugh a route

  His eye perced, and so depe it wente,

  Til on Criseyde it smoot, and ther it stente.

  And sodeynly he wax ther-with astoned,

  275 And gan hire bet biholde in thrifty wyse:

  `O mercy, god!' thoughte he, `wher hastow woned,

  That art so fair and goodly to devyse?'

  Ther-with his herte gan to sprede and ryse,

  And softe sighed, lest men mighte him here,

  280 And caughte a-yein his firste pleyinge chere.

  She nas nat with the leste of hir stature,

  But alle hir limes so wel answeringe

  Weren to womanhode, that creature

  Was neuer lasse mannish in seminge.

  285 And eek the pure wyse of here meninge

  Shewede wel, that men might in hir gesse

  Honour, estat, and wommanly noblesse.

  To Troilus right wonder wel with-alle

  Gan for to lyke hir meninge and hir chere,

  290 Which somdel deynous was, for she leet falle

  Hir look a lite a-side, in swich manere,

  Ascaunces, `What! May I not stonden here?'

  And after that hir loking gan she lighte,

  That never thoughte him seen so good a sighte.

  295 And of hir look in him ther gan to quiken

  So greet desir, and swich affeccioun,

  That in his herte botme gan to stiken

  Of hir his fixe and depe impressioun:

  And though he erst hadde poured up and doun,

  300 He was tho glad his hornes in to shrinke;

  Unnethes wiste he how to loke or winke.

  Lo, he that leet him-selven so konninge,

  And scorned hem that loves peynes dryen,

  Was ful unwar that love hadde his dwellinge

  305 With-inne the subtile stremes of hir yen;

  That sodeynly him thoughte he felte dyen,

  Right with hir look, the spirit in his herte;

  Blissed be love, that thus can folk converte!

  She, this in blak, likinge to Troylus,

  310 Over alle thyng, he stood for to biholde;

  Ne his desir, ne wherfor he stood thus,

  He neither chere made, ne worde tolde;

  But from a-fer, his maner for to holde,

  On other thing his look som-tyme he caste,

  315 And eft on hir, whyl that servyse laste.

  And after this, not fulliche al awhaped,

  Out of the temple al esiliche he wente,

  Repentinge him that he hadde ever y-iaped

  Of loves folk, lest fully the descente

  320 Of scorn fille on him-self; but, what he mente,

  Lest it were wist on any maner syde,

  His wo he gan dissimulen and hyde.

  Whan he was fro the temple thus departed,

  He streyght anoon un-to his paleys torneth,

  325 Right with hir look thurgh-shoten and thurgh-darted,

  Al feyneth he in lust that he soiorneth;

  And al his chere and speche also he borneth;

  And ay, of loves servants every whyle,

  Him-self to wrye, at hem he gan to smyle.

  330 And seyde, `Lord, so ye live al in lest,

  Ye loveres! For the conningest of yow,

  That serveth most ententiflich and best,

  Him tit as often harm ther-of as prow;

  Your hyre is quit ayein, ye, god wot how!

  335 Nought wel for wel, but scorn for good servyse;

  In feith, your ordre is ruled in good wyse!

  `In noun-certeyn ben alle your observaunces,

  But it a sely fewe poyntes be;

  Ne no-thing asketh so grete attendaunces

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