The canterbury tales, p.13
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       The Canterbury Tales, p.13

           Geoffrey Chaucer

  1270 That if I mighte escapen from prisoun,

  Than hadde I been in joye and parfit heele 1271,

  Ther 1272 now I am exiled fro my wele,

  Sin that I may nat seen yow, Emelye.

  I nam but deed 1274; ther nis no remedye.’

  1275 Upon that oother 1275 side Palamon,

  Whan that he wiste Arcite was agon,

  Swich sorwe he maketh that the grete tour

  Resouneth of 1278 his yowling and clamour.

  The pure fettres 1279 on his shines grete

  1280 Were of his bittre salte teres wete.

  ‘Allas,’ quod he, ‘Arcita, cosin min,

  Of al oure strif, God woot, the fruit is thin!

  Thou walkest now in Thebes at thy large 1283,

  And1284 of my wo thou yevest litel charge.

  1285 Thou mayst, sin thou hast wisdom and manhede 1285,

  Assemblen alle the folk of oure kinrede,

  And make a werre 1287 so sharp in this citee

  That by som aventure 1288, or som tretee,

  Thou mayst have hire to 1289 lady and to wif

  1290 For whom that I moste nedes lese my lif 1290.

  For, as by wey of possibilitee,

  Sith thou art at thy large, of prisoun free,

  And art a lord, greet is thin avauntage,

  Moore than is min, that sterve 1294 here in a cage.

  1295 For I moot 1295 wepe and waille whil I live,

  With al the wo that prisoun may me yeve,

  And eek with peine that love me yeveth also,

  That doubleth al my torment and my wo.’

  Therwith the fir of jalousye up sterte1299

  1300 Withinne his brest, and hente 1300 him by the herte,

  So1301 woodly that he lik was to biholde

  The box-tree, or the asshen dede and colde.

  Thanne seide he, ‘O cruel goddes, that governe

  This world with binding of youre word eterne,

  1305 And writen in the table of atthamaunt 1305

  Youre parlement 1306 and youre eterne graunt,

  What is mankinde1307 moore unto yow holde

  Than is the sheep that rowketh 1308 in the folde?

  For slain is man right as another beest,

  1310 And dwelleth eek in prisoun and areest 1310,

  And hath siknesse and greet adversitee,

  And ofte times giltelees, pardee.

  What1313 governaunce is in this prescience

  That giltelees tormenteth innocence?

  1315 And yet encreseth this al my penaunce 1315:

  That man is bounden to his observaunce 1316,

  For Goddes sake, to letten of 1317 his wille,

  Theras 1318 a beest may al his lust fulfille.

  And whan a beest is deed he hath no peine,

  1320 But man after his deeth moot wepe and pleine 1320,

  Though in this world he have care and wo;

  Withouten doute, it may stonden so.

  The answere of this lete I to divinis 1323;

  But wel I woot that in this world greet pine is.

  1325 Allas, I se a serpent or a theef,

  That many a trewe man1326 hath doon mescheef,

  Goon at his large, and wher him list may turne,

  But I moot been in prisoun thurgh 1328 Saturne,

  And eek thurgh Juno, jalous and eek wood 1329,

  1330 That hath destroyed wel ny 1330 al the blood

  Of Thebes, with his waste 1331 walles wide.

  And Venus sleeth 1332 me on that oother side,

  For jalousye and feere of him Arcite.’

  Now wol I stinte of 1334 Palamon a lite,

  1335 And lete him in his prisoun stille 1335 dwelle,

  And of Arcita forth I wol yow telle.

  The somer passeth, and the nightes longe

  Encresen double wise the peines stronge,

  Bothe of the lovere and the prisoner.

  1340 I noot which hath the wofuller mister 1340:

  For, shortly for to seyn, this Palamoun

  Perpetuelly is dampned to prisoun,

  In cheines and in fettres to been deed 1343;

  And Arcite is exiled, upon his heed 1344,

  1345 For everemo as out of that contree,

  Ne neveremo he shal his lady see.

  Yow loveris axe 1347 I now this questioun:

  Who hath the worse, Arcite or Palamoun?

  That oon 1349 may seen his lady day by day,

  1350 But in prisoun moot 1350 he dwelle alway;

  That oother wher him list may ride or go,

  But seen his lady shal he neveremo.

  Now demeth as yow liste 1353, ye that kan,

  For I wol telle forth as I bigan.

  [Part Two]

  1355 Whan that Arcite to Thebes comen was,

  Ful ofte a day 1356 he swelte and seide ‘allas!’,

  For seen his lady shal he neveremo.

  And shortly to concluden 1358 al his wo,

  So muchel sorwe had nevere creature

  1360 That is or shal 1360 whil that 1362 the world may dure.

  His sleep, his mete, his drinke, is him biraft,

  That lene he wex and drye as is a shaft;

  Hise eyen holwe and grisly to biholde,

  His hewe falow 1364 and pale as asshen colde.

  1365 And solitarye he was and evere allone,

  And waillinge al the night, makinge his mone 1366.

  And if he herde song or instrument,

  Thanne wolde he wepe; he mighte nat be stent 1368.

  So feble eek were his spiritz, and so lowe,

  1370 And chaunged so that no man koude knowe

  His speche, nor his vois, though men it herde.

  And in his gere 1372 for al the world he ferde

  Nat oonly lik the loveris maladye

  Of hereos 1374, but rather lik manye,

  1375 Engendred of humour malencolik 1375

  Biforen 1376, in his celle fantastik.

  And shortly, turned was al up-so-doun 1377

  Bothe habit 1378 and eek disposicioun

  Of him, this woful lovere, daun 1379 Arcite;

  1380 What 1380 sholde I al day of his wo endite?

  Whan he endured hadde a yeer or two

  This cruel torment and this peine and wo,

  At Thebes in his contree, as I seide,

  Upon a night, in sleep as he him leide,

  1385 Him thoughte how that the winged god Mercurye

  Biforn him stood and bad him to be murye.

  His slepy yerde 1387 in honde he bar uprighte;

  An hat he wered 1388 upon his heres brighte.

  Arrayed was this god, as he took keep 1389,

  1390 As he was whan that Argus took his sleep;

  And seide him thus: ‘To Atthenes shaltow wende 1391,

  Ther is thee shapen 1392 of thy wo an ende.’

  And with that word Arcite wook and sterte.

  ‘Now trewely, how sore that me smerte 1394,’

  1395 Quod he, ‘to Atthenes right now wol I fare 1395.

  Ne for the drede of deeth shal I nat spare

  To see my lady that I love and serve;

  In hir presence I recche nat to sterve 1398.’

  And with that word he caughte a greet mirour,

  1400 And saugh that chaunged was al his colour,

  And saugh his visage al in another kinde.

  And right anoon it ran him in his minde

  That, sith 1403 his face was so disfigured

  Of 1404 maladye the which he hadde endured,

  1405 He mighte wel, if that he bar him lowe 1405,

  Live in Atthenes everemoore unknowe,

  And seen his lady wel ny 1407 day by day.

  And right anoon he chaunged his array,

  And cladde him 1409 as a povre laborer;

  1410 And al allone, save oonly a squier

  That knew his privetee1411 and al his cas,

  Which was disgised povrely as he was,
  To Atthenes is he goon the nexte way 1413.

  And to the court he wente upon a day,

  1415 And at the gate he profreth 1415 his servise,

  To drugge and drawe 1416, whatso men wol devise.

  And shortly of this matere for to seyn,

  He fil in office 1418 with a chamberlein,

  The which that dwelling was with Emelye,

  1420 For he was wis and koude soone espye1420

  Of every servant which that serveth here.

  Wel koude he hewen wode and water bere,

  For he was yong and mighty for the nones,

  And therto he was long 1424 and big of bones

  1425 To doon that any wight kan him devise.

  A yeer or two he was in this servise,

  Page of the chambre of Emelye the brighte,

  And Philostrate he seide that he highte.

  But half so wel biloved a man as he

  1430 Ne was ther nevere in court of his degree 1430.

  He was so gentil 1431 of condicioun

  That thurghout al the court was his renoun.

  They seiden that it were 1433 a charitee

  That Theseus wolde enhauncen his degree,

  1435 And putten him in worshipful 1435 servise,

  Theras he mighte his vertu excercise 1436.

  And thus withinne a while his name is spronge 1437,

  Bothe of his dedes and his goode tonge,

  That Theseus hath taken him so ner 1439

  1440 That of his chambre he made him a squier,

  And gaf him gold to maintene his degree.

  And eek men broghte him out of his contree

  Fro yeer to yeer ful prively his rente 1443.

  But honestly 1444 and sleighly he it spente,

  1445 That no man wondred how that he it hadde.

  And thre yeer in this wise his lif he ladde,

  And bar him 1447 so in pees and eek in werre,

  Ther was no man that Theseus hath derre 1448.

  And in this blisse lete I now Arcite,

  1450 And speke I wol of Palamon a lite.

  In derknesse and horrible and strong prisoun

  This seven yeer hath seten 1452 Palamoun

  Forpined 1453, what for wo and for distresse.

  Who feeleth double soor and hevinesse

  1455 But Palamon, that love destreineth 1455 so

  That wood 1456 out of his wit he gooth for wo?

  And eek therto he is a prisoner

  Perpetuelly, nat oonly for a yer.

  Who koude ryme in Englissh proprely

  1460 His martyrdom? For sothe, it am noght I!

  Therfore I passe 1461 as lightly as I may.

  It fil 1462 that in the seventhe yeer, of May

  The thridde night (as olde bokes seyn,

  That al this storye tellen moore plein),

  1465 Were it by aventure 1465 or destinee –

  As whan a thing is shapen 1466 it shal be –

  That soone after the midnight, Palamoun

  By helping of a freend brak 1468 his prisoun,

  And fleeth the citee faste as he may go.

  1470 For he had yeve his gailler drinke so,

  Of a clarree 1471 maad of a certein win,

  With nercotikes 1472 and opie of Thebes fin,

  That al that night, thogh that men wolde1473 him shake,

  The gailler sleep 1474; he mighte noght awake.

  1475 And thus he fleeth as faste as evere he may.

  The night was short and faste by 1476 the day,

  That nedes-cost 1477 he moste himselven hide.

  And til a grove faste therbiside

  With dreedful 1479 foot thanne stalketh Palamoun.

  1480 For, shortly, this was his opinioun,

  That in that grove he wolde him hide al day,

  And in the night thanne wolde he take his way

  To Thebesward 1483, his freendes for to preye

  On Theseus to helpe him to werreye 1484.

  1485 And shortly, outher 1485 he wolde lese his lif,

  Or winnen Emelye unto his wif.

  This is th’effect and his entente plein 1487.

  Now wol I turne to Arcite agein,

  That litel wiste how neigh 1489 that was his care,

  1490 Til that Fortune had broght him in the snare.

  The bisy larke, messager of day,

  Salueth in hir song the morwe gray,

  And firy Phebus 1493 riseth up so brighte

  That al the orient 1494 laugheth of the lighte,

  1495 And with his stremes dryeth in the greves 1495

  The silver dropes hanginge on the leves.

  And Arcita, that in the court royal

  With Theseus is squier principal,

  Is risen and looketh on the murye 1499 day,

  1500 And for to doon his observaunce to 1500 May,

  Remembringe on the point1501 of his desir,

  He on a courser, startlinge 1502 as the fir,

  Is riden into the feeldes him to pleye,

  Out of the court, were it a mile or tweye;

  1505 And to the grove of which that I yow tolde

  By aventure 1506 his wey he gan to holde,

  To maken him a gerland 1507 of the greves,

  Were it of wodebinde 1508 or hawethorn leves.

  And loude he song ayein the sonne 1509 shene:

  1510 ‘May, with alle thy floures and thy grene,

  Welcome be thow, faire fresshe May,

  In hope that I som grene gete may 1512.’

  And from his courser, with a lusty 1513 herte,

  Into the grove ful hastily he sterte 1514,

  1515 And in a path he rometh up and doun,

  Theras by aventure this Palamoun

  Was in a bussh, that no man mighte him se,

  For soore afered of his deeth was he.

  Nothing 1519 knew he that it was Arcite;

  1520 God woot he wolde have trowed 1520 it ful lite!

  But sooth is seid, go sithen many yeres 1521,

  That ‘feeld hath eyen and the wode hath eres’.

  It1523 is ful fair a man to bere him evene,

  For al day meeten men at unset stevene 1524.

  1525 Ful litel woot Arcite of his felawe,

  That was so neigh to herknen al his sawe 1526,

  For in the bussh he sitteth now ful stille.

  Whan that Arcite hadde romed al his fille,

  And songen al the roundel1529 lustily,

  1530 Into a studye 1530 he fil sodeinly,

  As doon thise loveres in hir queinte geres 1531 –

  Now in the croppe 1532, now doun in the breres,

  Now up, now doun, as boket 1533 in a welle;

  Right as the Friday, soothly for to telle:

  1535 Now it shineth, now it reineth 1535 faste.

  Right so kan gery 1536 Venus overcaste

  The hertes of hir folk; right as hir day

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