The canterbury tales, p.12
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       The Canterbury Tales, p.12

           Geoffrey Chaucer

  Stille 1003 in that feeld he took al night his reste,

  And dide with al the contree as him leste 1004.

  1005 To ransake in the taas 1005 of bodies dede,

  Hem for to strepe 1006 of harneis and of wede,

  The1007 pilours diden bisinesse and cure,

  After the bataille and disconfiture 1008.

  And so bifel that in the taas they founde,

  1010 Thurgh-girt 1010 with many a grevous blody wounde,

  Two yonge knightes, ligginge by and by 1011,

  Both in oon armes 1012 wroght ful richely;

  Of whiche two, Arcita highte that oon,

  And that oother knight highte Palamon.

  1015 Nat fully quik 1015 ne fully dede they were,

  But by hir cote-armures 1016 and by hir gere

  The heraudes knew hem best in special 1017,

  As they that weren of the blood royal

  Of Thebes, and of sustren1019 two yborn.

  1020 Out of the taas the pilours han hem torn

  And han hem caried softe 1021 unto the tente

  Of Theseus, and he ful soone hem sente

  To Atthenes, to dwellen in prisoun

  Perpetuelly; he nolde no raunsoun 1024.

  1025 And whan this worthy duc hath thus ydoon,

  He took his hoost and hom he rit anoon,

  With laurer 1027 crowned as a conquerour;

  And ther he liveth in joye and in honour

  Terme of his lif 1029; what nedeth wordes mo?

  1030 And in a tour 1030, in angwissh and in wo,

  Dwellen this Palamon, and eek Arcite,

  For everemoore; ther may no gold hem quite 1032.

  This 1033 passeth yeer by yeer and day by day,

  Til it fil ones 1034, in a morwe of May,

  1035 That Emelye, that fairer was to sene 1035

  Than is the lilye upon his stalke grene,

  And fressher than the May with floures newe –

  For with the rose colour 1038 stroof hir hewe;

  I noot 1039 which was the finer of hem two –

  1040 Er it were day, as was hir wone 1040 to do,

  She was arisen and al redy dight 1041.

  For May wol have no slogardye 1042 a-night;

  The sesoun priketh 1043 every gentil herte,

  And maketh it out of his sleep to sterte 1044,

  1045 And seyth, ‘Aris, and do thin observaunce 1045!’

  This maked Emelye have remembraunce

  To doon honour to May, and for to rise.

  Yclothed was she 1048 fressh for to devise;

  Hir yelow heer was broided in a tresse 1049

  1050 Bihinde hir bak, a yerde 1050 long, I gesse.

  And in the gardin, at the sonne-upriste 1051,

  She walketh up and doun, and as hir liste 1052

  She gadreth floures, party 1053 white and rede,

  To make a subtil 1054 gerland for hir hede,

  1055 And as an aungel hevenisshly 1055 she song.

  The grete tour, that was so thikke and strong,

  Which of the castel was the chief dongeoun 1057,

  Theras 1058 the knightes weren in prisoun

  Of which I tolde yow and tellen shal,

  1060 Was evene joinant 1060 to the gardin wal

  Theras this Emelye hadde hir pleyinge 1061.

  Bright was the sonne and cleer that morweninge,

  And Palamon, this woful prisoner,

  As was his wone, by leve 1064 of his gailer,

  1065 Was risen and romed in a chambre an heigh 1065,

  In which he al the noble citee seigh 1066,

  And eek the gardin, ful of braunches grene,

  Theras this fresshe Emelye the shene

  Was in hir walk, and romed up and doun.

  1070 This sorweful prisoner, this Palamoun,

  Gooth in the chambre roming to and fro

  And to himself compleining of his wo;

  That he was born ful ofte he seide ‘allas!’

  And so bifel, by aventure or cas 1074,

  That thurgh a window, thikke of1075 many a barre

  1075 Of iren greet and square as any sparre,

  He caste his eye upon Emelya,

  And therwithal he bleinte 1078 and cride ‘A!’

  As thogh he stongen 1079 were unto the herte.

  1080 And with that cry Arcite anoon up sterte 1080

  And seide, ‘Cosin min, what eileth 1081 thee,

  That art so pale and deedly 1082 on to see?

  Why cridestow 1083? Who hath the doon offence?

  For Goddes love, take al in pacience

  1085 Oure prisoun, for it may noon oother be!

  Fortune hath yeven us this adversitee.

  Som wikke aspect 1087 or disposicioun

  Of Saturne, by som constellacioun 1088,

  Hath yeven us this, althogh we hadde it sworn 1089;

  1090 So stood the hevene whan that we were born.

  We mote 1091 endure; this is the short and plain.’

  This Palamon answerde and seide again 1092:

  ‘Cosin, for sothe, of this opinioun

  Thou hast a vein imaginacioun 1094.

  1095 This prisoun caused me nat for to crye,

  But I was hurt right now, thurghout 1096 min eye

  Into min herte, that wol my bane be 1097.

  The fairnesse of that lady that I se

  Yond 1099 in the gardin romen to and fro

  1100 Is cause of al my cryinge and my wo.

  I noot1101 wher she be womman or goddesse,

  But Venus is it soothly, as I gesse.’

  And therwithal on knees doun he fil 1103

  And seide, ‘Venus, if it be thy wil

  1105 Yow in this gardin thus to transfigure

  Bifore me, sorweful wrecched creature,

  Out of this prisoun help that we may scape.

  And if so be my destinee be shape 1108

  By eterne word to dien in prisoun,

  1110 Of oure linage 1110 have som compassioun,

  That is so lowe ybroght by tyrannye.’

  And with that word Arcite gan espye 1112

  Wheras this lady romed to and fro,

  And with that sighte hir beautee hurte him so,

  1115 That if that Palamon was wounded soore 1115,

  Arcite is hurt as muche as he or moore.

  And with a sigh he seide pitously 1117:

  ‘The fresshe beautee sleeth me sodeinly

  Of hire that rometh in the yonder 1119 place,

  1120 And but 1120 I have hir mercy and hir grace,

  That I may seen hire at the leeste weye 1121,

  I nam but deed 1122; ther is namoore to seye.’

  This Palamon, whan he tho 1123 wordes herde,

  Despitously 1124 he loked, and answerde:

  1125 ‘Wher seystow 1125 this in ernest, or in pley?’

  ‘Nay,’ quod Arcite, ‘in ernest, by my fey!

  God help me so, me list ful ivele pleye 1127.’

  This Palamon gan knitte his browes tweye.

  ‘It nere to thee1129’, quod he, ‘no greet honour

  1130 For to be fals, ne for to be traitour

  To me, that am thy cosin and thy brother

  Ysworn ful depe, and ech of us til 1132 oother,

  That nevere, for to dien in the peine 1133,

  Til that the deeth departe 1134 shal us tweine,

  1135 Neither of us in love to hindre oother,

  Ne in noon other caas 1136, my leeve brother,

  But that thow sholdest trewely forthre 1137 me

  In every caas, as I shal forthre thee.

  This was thin ooth, and min also, certein;

  1140 I woot right wel thou darst it nat withseyn 1140.

  Thus artow of my counseil 1141, out of doute.

  And now thow woldest falsly been aboute 1142

  To love my lady, whom I love and serve

  And evere shal, til that min herte sterve 1144.

  1145 No
w certes, false Arcite, thow shalt nat so!

  I loved hire first, and tolde thee my wo

  As to my counseil 1147 and my brother sworn,

  To forthre me, as I have told biforn.

  For which thou art ybounden as a knight

  1150 To helpe me, if it lay in thy might 1150,

  Or elles artow fals, I dar wel seyn!’

  This Arcite ful proudly spak agein 1152:

  ‘Thou shalt’, quod he, ‘be rather fals than I.

  And thou art fals, I telle thee outrely 1154;

  1155 For par amour 1155 I loved hire first er thow.

  What wiltow seyn? Thow wistest nat 1156 yet now

  Wheither she be a womman or goddesse!

  Thin is affeccioun of holinesse 1158,

  And min is love as to a creature,

  1160 For which I tolde thee min aventure 1160,

  As to my cosin and my brother sworn.

  I pose 1162 that thow lovedest hire biforn:

  Wostow nat wel the olde clerkes sawe 1163,

  That “who shal yeve a lovere any lawe?”

  1165 Love is a gretter lawe, by my pan 1165,

  Than may be yeve 1166 to any erthely man.

  And therfore positif lawe 1167 and swich decree

  Is broke al day 1168 for love, in ech degree.

  A man moot nedes 1169 love, maugree his heed;

  1170 He may nat fleen it thogh he sholde be deed,

  Al be she 1171 maide, widwe, or ellis wif.

  And eek it is nat likly al thy lif

  To stonden in hir grace; namoore shal I.

  For wel thow woost thyselven, verraily 1174,

  1175 That thow and I be dampned 1175 to prisoun

  Perpetuelly; us gaineth no raunsoun 1176.

  We strive as dide the houndes for the boon:

  They foghte al day, and yet hir part was noon 1178.

  Ther cam a kite, whil that they were so wrothe 1179,

  1180 And bar awey the boon bitwixe hem bothe.

  And therfore, at the kinges court, my brother,

  Ech man for himself; ther is noon oother 1182.

  Love if thee list1183; for I love, and ay shal.

  And soothly, leve brother, this is al:

  1185 Here in this prisoun moote 1185 we endure,

  And everich 1186 of us take his aventure.’

  Greet was the strif and long bitwixe hem tweye,

  If that I hadde leiser for to seye 1188.

  But to th 1189’effect: it happed on a day,

  1190 To telle it yow as shortly as I may,

  A worthy duc that highte Perotheus 1191,

  That felawe was unto duc Theseus

  Sin thilke day 1193 that they were children lite,

  Was come to Atthenes, his felawe to visite,

  1195 And for to pleye 1195 as he was wont to do;

  For in this world he loved no man so,

  And he loved him as tendrely agein.

  So wel they loved, as olde bookes seyn,

  That whan that oon 1199 was deed, soothly to telle,

  1200 His felawe wente and soghte him doun in helle.

  But of that storye list me nat to write 1201.

  Duc Perotheus loved wel Arcite,

  And hadde him knowe at Thebes yeer by yere 1203,

  And finally, at requeste and prayere

  1205 Of Perotheus, withoute any raunsoun,

  Duc Theseus him leet 1206 out of prisoun,

  Frely to goon wher that him liste overal 1207,

  In swich a gise 1208 as I yow tellen shal.

  This was the forward 1209, pleinly for t’endite,

  1210 Bitwixen Theseus and him Arcite:

  That if so were that Arcite were yfounde,

  Evere in his lif, by day or night, o stounde 1212,

  In any contree of this Theseus,

  And he were caught, it was acorded 1214 thus:

  1215 That with a swerd he sholde lese 1215 his heed.

  Ther nas noon other remedye ne reed 1216;

  But takth his leve, and homward he him spedde 1217.

  Lat him be war; his nekke lith to wedde 1218.

  How greet a sorwe suffreth now Arcite!

  1220 The deeth he feeleth thurgh his herte smite.

  He wepeth, waileth, cryeth pitously;

  To sleen 1222 himself he waiteth prively.

  He seide, ‘Allas that day that I was born!

  Now is my prisoun worse than biforn;

  1225 Now is me shape 1225 eternally to dwelle,

  Noght in purgatorye, but in helle.

  Allas that evere knew I Perotheus!

  For elles 1228 hadde I dwelled with Theseus,

  Yfetered 1229 in his prisoun everemo;

  1230 Thanne hadde I been 1230 in blisse and nat in wo.

  Oonly the sight of hire whom that I serve,

  Thogh that I nevere hir grace may deserve,

  Wolde have suffised right inogh for me.

  O deere cosin Palamon,’ quod he,

  1235 ‘Thin is the victorye of this aventure 1235!

  Ful blisfully in prisoun maystow dure 1236 –

  In prisoun? nay, certes, but in paradis.

  Wel hath Fortune yturned thee the dis 1238,

  That hast the sight of hire, and I th’absence.

  1240 For possible is, sin 1240 thow hast hir presence,

  And art a knight, a worthy and an able,

  That by som caas 1242, sin Fortune is chaungeable,

  Thow mayst to thy desir som time atteine.

  But I, that am exiled and bareine 1244

  1245 Of alle grace, and in so greet despeir

  That ther nis 1246 erthe, water, fir, ne eir,

  Ne creature that of hem maked is,

  That may me helpe or doon confort in this,

  Wel oghte I sterve 1249 in wanhope and distresse.

  1250 Farewel, my lif, my lust 1250, and my gladnesse!

  Allas, why pleinen1251 folk so in comune

  On purveiaunce of God or on Fortune,

  That yeveth hem ful ofte in many a gise 1253

  Wel bettre than they kan hemself devise 1254?

  1255 Som man desireth for to have richesse,

  That cause is of his moerdre 1256, or greet siknesse.

  And som man wolde 1257 out of his prisoun fain,

  That in his hous is of his meinee 1258 slain.

  Infinite harmes been in this matere;

  1260 We witen 1260 nat what thing we prayen heere.

  We fare 1261 as he that dronke is as a mous:

  A dronke man woot wel he hath an hous,

  But he noot 1263 which the righte wey is thider,

  And to a dronke man the wey is slider 1264.

  1265 And certes in this world so faren we:

  We seken fast after 1266 felicitee,

  But we goon wrong ful often, trewely.

  Thus may we seyen alle, and nameliche 1268 I,

  That wende1269 and hadde a greet opinioun

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