The canterbury tales, p.14
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       The Canterbury Tales, p.14

           Geoffrey Chaucer

  Is gerful 1538, right so chaungeth she array.

  Selde is the Friday1539 al the wike ilike.

  1540 Whan that Arcite hadde songe, he gan to sike 1540,

  And sette him doun withouten any moore.

  ‘Allas’, quod he, ‘that day that I was bore!

  How longe, Juno, thurgh thy crueltee

  Woltow 1544 werreyen Thebes the citee?

  1545 Allas, ybroght is to confusioun

  The blood royal of Cadme and Amphioun –

  Of Cadmus, which that was the firste man

  That Thebes bulte 1548, or first the toun bigan,

  And of the citee first was crowned king.

  1550 Of his linage am I, and his ofspring,

  By verray ligne 1551 as of the stok royal.

  And now I am so caitif 1552 and so thral

  That he that is my mortal enemy,

  I serve him as his squier povrely.

  1555 And yet doth Juno me wel moore shame,

  For I dar noght biknowe 1556 min owene name;

  But theras I was wont to highte Arcite,

  Now highte I Philostrate, noght worth a mite.

  Allas, thou felle 1559 Mars, allas Juno!

  1560 Thus hath youre ire oure linage al fordo 1560,

  Save oonly me and wrecched Palamoun,

  That Theseus martyreth 1562 in prisoun.

  And over al this, to sleen me outrely 1563,

  Love hath his firy dart so brenningly 1564

  1565 Ystiked 1565 thurgh my trewe careful herte,

  That shapen 1566 was my deeth erst than my sherte.

  Ye sleen me with youre eyen, Emelye!

  Ye been the cause wherfore 1568 that I die.

  Of al the remenant of min oother care

  1570 Ne sette I noght the mountaunce of a tare 1570,

  So that 1571 I koude doon aught to youre plesaunce.’

  And with that word he fil doun in a traunce

  A longe time, and after he up sterte 1573.

  This Palamoun, that thoughte that thurgh his herte

  1575 He felte a cold swerd sodeinliche glide,

  For ire he quook 1576; no lenger wolde he bide.

  And whan that he had herd Arcites tale 1577,

  As he were wood 1578, with face deed and pale,

  He sterte him up out of the buskes 1579 thikke,

  1580 And seide, ‘Arcite, false traitour wikke 1580!

  Now artow hent 1581, that lovest my lady so,

  For whom that I have al this peine and wo,

  And art my blood and to my counseil sworn 1583,

  As I ful ofte have told thee herbiforn,

  1585 And hast bijaped1585 here duc Theseus,

  And falsly chaunged hast thy name thus!

  I wol be deed, or elles thow shalt die;

  Thow shalt nat love my lady Emelye,

  But I wol love hire oonly and namo 1589.

  1590 For I am Palamon, thy mortal foo,

  And thogh that I no wepne 1591 have in this place,

  But out of prisoun am astert 1592 by grace,

  I drede 1593 noght that outher thou shalt die,

  Or thou ne shalt noght loven Emelye.

  1595 Chees 1595 which thow wolt, or thow shalt noght asterte!’

  This Arcite, with ful despitous 1596 herte,

  Whan he him knew and hadde his tale herd,

  As fiers as leoun pulled out his swerd

  And seide thus: ‘By God that sit 1599 above,

  1600 Nere it 1600 that thow art sik and wood for love,

  And eek that thow no wepne hast in this place,

  Thow sholdest nevere out of 1603 this grove pace

  That thow ne sholdest dien of my hond.

  For I diffye 1604 the seuretee and the bond

  1605 Which that thow seyst that I have maad to thee.

  What, verray fool 1606, think wel that love is free,

  And I wol love hire, maugree al thy might 1607!

  But forasmuche thow art a worthy knight,

  And wilnest to darreine hire 1609 by bataille,

  1610 Have here my trouthe 1610: tomorowe I wol nat faille,

  Withoute witing 1611 of any oother wight,

  That here I wol be founden as a knight,

  And bringen harneis1613 right inogh for thee,

  And chees the beste, and leve the worste for me.

  1615 And mete 1615 and drinke this night wol I bringe,

  Inogh for thee, and clothes for thy beddinge.

  And if so be that thow my lady winne

  And slee 1618 me in this wode ther I am inne,

  Thow mayst wel have thy lady, as for me.’

  1620 This Palamon answerde, ‘I graunte it thee.’

  And thus they been departed til amorwe,

  Whan ech of hem had leid his feith to borwe 1622.

  O Cupide, out of alle charitee 1623!

  O regne 1624 that wolt no felawe have with thee!

  1625 Ful sooth is seid, that love ne lordshipe

  Wol noght, his thankes 1626, have no felaweshipe;

  Wel finden that Arcite and Palamoun.

  Arcite is riden anon unto the toun;

  And on the morwe, er it were dayes light,

  1630 Ful prively two harneis hath he dight 1630,

  Bothe suffisaunt and mete to darreine1631

  The bataille in the feeld bitwix hem tweine.

  And on his hors, allone as he was born,

  He caryeth al this harneis him biforn.

  1635 And in the grove, at time and place yset 1635,

  This Arcite and this Palamon been met.

  To chaungen gan the colour in hir face,

  Right as the hunters in the regne of Trace 1638,

  That stondeth 1639 at the gappe with a spere,

  1640 Whan hunted is the leoun or the bere,

  And hereth him come russhing in the greves 1641,

  And breketh bothe bowes and the leves,

  And thinketh, ‘Here comth my mortal enemy!

  Withoute faille he moot be deed, or I;

  1645 For outher I moot sleen him at the gappe,

  Or he moot sle me, if that me mishappe 1646.’

  So ferden 1647 they in chaunging of hir hewe.

  As fer as everich of hem oother knewe,1648

  Ther nas no ‘good day’ ne no saluinge,

  1650 But streight, withouten word or rehersinge 1650,

  Everich of hem heelp 1651 for to armen other,

  As frendly as he were his owene brother;

  And after that with sharpe speres stronge

  They foinen 1654 ech at other, wonder longe.

  1655 Thou mightest wene 1655 that this Palamoun

  In his fighting were a wood 1656 leoun,

  And as a cruel tigre was Arcite.

  As wilde bores gonnen they to smite,

  That frothen 1659 whit as foom for ire wood;

  1660 Up to the anclee 1660 foghte they in hir blood.

  And in this wise I lete hem 1661 fighting dwelle,

  And forth I wol of Theseus yow telle.

  The destinee, ministre general,1663

  That executeth in the world overal

  1665 The purveiaunce that God hath sein biforn,

  So strong it is, that thogh the world had sworn

  The contrarye of a thing by ye or nay,

  Yet somtime it shal fallen on a day

  That falleth nat eft 1669 withinne a thousand yeer.

  1670 For certeinly, oure appetites heer,

  Be it 1671 of werre, or pees, or hate, or love,

  Al is this ruled by 1673 the sighte above.

  This mene I now by mighty Theseus,

  That for to hunten is so desirus,

  1675 And namely at the grete hert 1675 in May,

  That in his bed ther daweth 1676 him no day

  That he nis clad and redy for to ride,

  With hunte 1678 and horn, and houndes him biside.

  For in his hunting hath he swich delit

1680 That it is al his joye and appetit

  To been himself the grete hertes bane 1681;

  For after Mars 1682 he ser 1683veth now Diane.

  Cleer was the day, as I have told er this,

  And Theseus, with alle joye and blis,

  1685 With his Ypolita, the faire quene,

  And Emelye, clothed al in grene,

  On hunting be they riden royally.

  And to the grove that stood ful faste by 1688,

  In which ther was an hert, as men him tolde,

  1690 Duc Theseus the streighte wey hath holde 1690,

  And to the launde 1691 he rideth him ful right,

  For thider was the hert wont have 1692 his flight,

  And over a brook, and so forth on his weye.

  This duc wol han a cours at 1694 him or tweye,

  1695 With houndes swiche as that him list comaunde.

  And whan this duc was come unto the launde,

  Under the sonne 1697 he loketh, and anon

  He was war of Arcite and Palamon,

  That foghten breme 1699, as it were boles two.

  1700 The brighte swerdes wenten to and fro,

  So hidously, that with the leeste strook 1702

  It semed as it wolde felle an ook.

  But what they were, nothing1703 he ne woot.

  This duc his courser with his spores smoot 1704,

  1705 And at a stert 1705 he was bitwix hem two,

  And pulled out a swerd and cried ‘Ho 1706!

  Namoore, up peine of lesing 1707 of youre heed!

  By mighty Mars, he shal anon be deed

  That smiteth any strook that I may seen.

  1710 But telleth me what mister men 1710 ye been,

  That been so hardy for to fighten here

  Withouten juge or oother officere,

  As it were in a listes, royally.’

  This Palamon answerede hastily

  1715 And seide, ‘Sire, what nedeth 1715 wordes mo?

  We have the deeth disserved bothe two.

  Two woful wrecches been we, two caitives 1717,

  That been encombred of 1718 oure owene lives;

  And as thow art a rightful lord and juge,

  1720 Ne yeve us neither mercy ne refuge 1720;

  But slee me first, for seinte 1721 charitee!

  But slee my felawe eek, as wel as me –

  Or slee him first; for thogh thow knowe it lite 1723,

  This is thy mortal foo, this is Arcite,

  1725 That fro thy lond is banisshed on his heed 1725,

  For which he hath deserved to be deed.

  For this is he that cam unto thy gate,

  And seide that he highte Philostrate.

  Thus hath he japed 1729 thee ful many a yeer,

  1730 And thow hast maked him thy chief squier.

  And this is he that loveth Emelye.

  For sith the day is come that I shal die,

  I make pleinly my confessioun

  That I am thilke woful Palamoun

  1735 That hath thy prisoun broken1735 wikkedly.

  I am thy mortal foo, and it am I

  That loveth so hoote 1737 Emelye the brighte,

  That I wol dien present in hir sighte.

  Wherfore I axe 1739 deeth and my juwise.

  1740 But slee my felawe in the same wise,

  For bothe have we deserved to be slain.’

  This worthy duc answerde anoon again

  And seide, ‘This is a short conclusioun 1743!

  Youre owene mouth, by youre confessioun,

  1745 Hath dampned 1745 yow, and I wol it recorde.

  It nedeth noght to pine yow with the corde1746!

  Ye shul be deed, by mighty Mars the rede!’

  The queen anoon, for verray wommanhede 1748,

  Gan for to wepe, and so dide Emelye,

  1750 And alle the ladies in the compaignye.

  Greet pitee was it, as it thoughte hem alle,

  That evere swich a chaunce sholde falle 1752,

  For gentil 1753 men they were, of greet estaat,

  And nothing but for love 1754 was this debaat;

  1755 And sawe hir blody woundes wide and soore,

  And alle criden, bothe lasse and moore 1756,

  ‘Have mercy, lord, upon us wommen alle!’

  And on hir bare knees adoun they falle,

  And wolde have kist his feet theras 1759 he stood;

  1760 Til at the last aslaked 1760 was his mood,

  For pitee renneth soone 1761 in gentil herte.

  And thogh he first for ire quook 1762 and sterte,

  He hath considered shortly, in a clause1763,

  The trespas 1764 of hem bothe, and eek the cause,

  1765 And althogh that his ire hir gilt accused,

  Yet in his resoun he hem bothe excused,

  As thus: he thoghte wel that every man

  Wol helpe himself in love if that he kan,

  And eek delivere himself out of prisoun;

  1770 And eek his herte had compassioun

  Of wommen, for they wepen evere in oon 1771;

  And in his gentil herte he thoghte anoon,

  And softe 1773 unto himself he seide, ‘Fy

  Upon a lord that wol have no mercy,

  1775 But be a leoun, bothe in word and dede,

  To hem that been in repentaunce and drede

  As wel as to a proud despitous 1777 man,

  That wol maintene 1778 that he first bigan.

  That lord hath litel of discrecioun

  1780 That in swich caas kan no divisioun 1780,

  But weyeth 1781 pride and humblesse after oon.’

  And shortly, whan his ire is thus agoon,

  He gan to loken up with eyen lighte,

  And spak thise same wordes al on highte 1784:

  1785 ‘The God of love,1785a, benedicitee!

  How mighty and how greet a lord is he!

  Agains his might ther gaineth none obstacles.1787

  He may be cleped 1788 a god for his miracles,

  For he kan maken at his owene gise 1789

  1790 Of everich herte as that him list devise 1790.

  Lo here, this Arcite and this Palamoun,

  That quitly 1792 weren out of my prisoun,

  And mighte have lived in Thebes royally,

  And witen 1794 I am hir mortal enemy,

  1795 And that hir deeth lith 1795 in my might also,

  And yet hath love, maugree hir eyen two 1796,

  Broght hem hider bothe for to die!

  Now looketh, is nat that an heigh folye?

  Who may been a fool but if he love 1799?

  1800 Bihoold, for Goddes sake that sit 1800 above,

  Se how they blede! Be they noght wel arrayed 1801?

  Thus hath hir lord, the God of love, ypayed

  Hir wages and hir fees for hir servise!

  And yet they wenen for to be 1804 ful wise

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