The canterbury tales, p.25
The Canterbury Tales, p.25Geoffrey Chaucer
20 Lordinges, the time wasteth night and day,
And steleth from us, what21 prively slepinge,
And what thurgh necligence in oure wakinge22,
As dooth the streem that turneth nevere again,
Descendinge fro the montaigne into plain.
25 Wel kan Senec, and many a philosophre,
Biwaillen time moore than gold in cofre;
“For los of catel27 may recovered be,
But los of time shendeth28 us,” quod he.
It wol nat come again, withouten drede29,
30 Namoore than wol Malkins maidenhede,
Whan she hath lost it in hir wantownesse.
Lat us nat mowlen32 thus in idelnesse!
‘Sire Man of Lawe,’ quod he, ‘so have ye blis,
Tel us a tale anon, as forward34 is.
35 Ye been submitted thurgh youre free assent
To stonden in this cas at my juggement.
Acquiteth yow nowe of youre biheste;37
Thanne have ye doon youre devoir38, atte leste.’
‘Hoost,’ quod he, ‘depardieux39, ich assente!
40 To breke forward40 is nat min entente.
Biheste is dette41, and I wol holde fain
Al my biheste; I kan no bettre sayn.
For swich lawe as a man yeveth another wight43,
He sholde himselven usen it by right –
45 Thus wol oure text45. But nathelees, certein,
I kan right now no thrifty46 tale seyn
That Chaucer, thogh he kan but lewedly47
On metres and on ryming craftily,
Hath seid hem, in swich Englissh as he kan,
50 Of olde time, as knoweth many a man.
And if he have nat seid hem, leeve51 brother,
In o book, he hath seid hem in another.
For he hath told of lovers up and doun
Mo than Ovide made of mencioun54
55 In his Episteles, that been ful olde.
What56 sholde I tellen hem, sin they been tolde?
‘In youthe he made of Ceys and Alcyone,
And sithen58 hath he spoke of everychone,
Thise noble wives, and thise loveres eke59.
60 Whoso that wol his large volume seke
Cleped61 the Seintes Legende of Cupide,
Ther maystow seen the large woundes wide
Of Lucresse and of Babilan Tesbee,
The swerd of Dido for the false Enee,
65 The tree of Phillis for hir Demophon,
The pleinte66 of Dianire, and Hermion,
Of Adriane, and of Isiphilee,
The bareine ile stondinge in the see,
The dreinte69 Leandre for his Erro,
70 The teeris of Eleine, and eke the wo
Of Brixseide, and of the, Ladomia;
The crueltee of the queene Medea –
The litel children hanging by the hals73,
For thy Jason, that was of love so fals.
75 O Ypermystra, Penolopee, Alceste,
Youre wifhode he comendeth with the beste76!
‘But certeinly no word ne writeth he
Of thilke wikke ensample of Canacee,
That loved hir owene brother sinfully.
80 Of swiche cursed stories I sey “fy!”
Or ellis of Tyro Appollonius –
How that the cursed king Antiochus
Birafte83 his doghter of hir maidenhede.
That is so horrible a tale for to rede,
85 Whan he hir threw upon the pavement85!
And therfore he, of ful avisement86,
Nolde nevere write in noon of his sermons87
Of swiche unkinde88 abhominacions,
Ne I wol noon reherce89, if that I may.
90 ‘But of my tale how shal I doon90 this day?
Me were looth be likned91, doutelees,
To Muses that men clepe Pierides –
Methamorphosios woot what I mene.
But nathelees I recche noght a bene94,
95 Thogh I come after him with hawe-bake95.
I speke in prose, and lat him rymes make.’
And with that word he with a sobre cheere97
Bigan his tale, as ye shal after heere.
The Prologe of the Mannes Tale of Lawe.
O hateful harm, condicion of poverte,
100 With thurst, with cold, with hunger so confoundid!
To asken help thee shameth101 in thin herte;
If thou noon aske, so soore artow ywoundid
That verray nede unwrappeth al thy wounde hid.
Maugree thin heed104, thou most for indigence
105 Or stele, or begge, or borwe thy despence.105
Thou blamest Crist, and seyst ful bitterly
He misdeparteth107 richesse temporal.
Thy neighebore thow witest108 sinfully,
And seyst thow hast to lite109, and he hath al.
110 ‘Parfay,’ seystow, ‘somtime he rekne110 shal,
Whan that his tail shal brennen in the gleede111,
For he noght helpeth nedefulle112 in hir nede!’
Herke what is the sentence113 of the wise:
‘Bet is to dien than have indigence.
115 Thy selve115 neighebore wol thee despise.’
If thow be povre, farewel thy reverence116!
Yet of the wise man tak this sentence117:
‘Alle the dayes of povre men been wikke118.’
Be war, therfore, er thow come to that prikke119.
120 If thou be povre, thy brother hateth thee,
And alle thy freendes fleen from thee, allas!
O riche marchauntz, ful of wele122 been ye!
O noble, o prudent folk, as in this cas!
Youre bagges been noght filled with ambes as124,
125 But with sis cink that renneth for youre chaunce.125
At Cristemasse murye may ye daunce!
Ye seken127 lond and see for youre winninges.
As wise folk ye knowen al th’estat128
Of regnes; ye been fadres129 of tidinges
130 And tales, bothe of pees and of debat130.
I were131 right now of tales desolat,
Nere132 that a marchaunt, goon is many a yere,
Me taughte a tale, which that ye shal heere.
THE MAN OF LAW’S TALE
Heere biginneth the Man of Lawe his Tale.
In Surrye134 whilom dwelte a compaignye
135 Of chapmen135 riche, and therto sadde and trewe,
That wide-where136 senten hir spicerye,
Clothes of gold and satins riche of hewe.
Hir chaffare138 was so thrifty and so newe
That every wight hath deintee to chaffare139
140 With hem, and eek to sellen hem hir ware.
Now fil it that the maistres of that sort141
Han shapen hem142 to Rome for to wende.
Were it143 for chapmanhode or for disport,
Noon oother message144 wolde they thider sende,
145 But comen hemself to Rome; this is the ende145.
And in swich place as thoughte hem avauntage146
For hir entente, they take hir herbergage147.
Sojourned han thise marchauntz in that toun
A certein time, as fil to hir plesaunce149.
150 And so bifel that th’excellent renoun
Of th’Emperoures doghter, dame Custaunce151,
Reported was, with every circumstaunce152,
Unto thise Surrien marchauntz in swich wise,
Fro day to day, as I shal yow devise154.
155 This was the commune vois155 of every man:
‘Oure Emperour of Rome, God him se156!
A doghter hath that, sin the world bigan,
To rekne158 as wel hir goodnesse as beautee,
Nas nevere swich another as is she.
160 I pray to God in honour hir sustene160,
And wolde161 she were of al Europe the queene!
‘In hire is heigh beautee withoute pride,
To alle hir werkes vertu is hir gide;
165 Humblesse hath slain in hir al tyrannye.
She is mirour of alle curteisye;
Hir herte is verray chambre of holinesse,
Hir hand, ministre of fredam168 for almesse.’
And al this vois was sooth, as God is trewe;
170 But now to purpos170 lat us turne again.
Thise marchauntz han doon fraught hir shippes newe171,
And whan they han this blisful172 maiden sayn,
Hom to Surrye been they went ful fain,
And doon hir nedes174 as they han doon yoore,
175 And liven in wele175; I kan sey yow namoore.
Now fil it that thise marchauntz stode in grace176
Of him that was the Sowdan177 of Surrye;
For whan they come from any straunge178 place,
He wolde, of his benigne curteisye179,
180 Make hem180 good cheere and bisily espye
Tidinges of sondry181 regnes, for to leere
The wondres that they mighte seen or heere.
Amonges othere thinges, specially183,
Thise marchauntz han him told of dame Custaunce
185 So greet noblesse, in ernest, ceriously185,
That this Sowdan hath caught so greet plesaunce186
To han hir figure187 in his remembraunce,
That al his lust188 and al his bisy cure
Was for to love hire, whil his lif may dure.
190 Paraventure190, in thilke large book
Which that men clepe191 the hevene, ywriten was
With sterres, whan that he his birthe took,
That he for love sholde han his deth, allas!
For in the sterres, clerer than is glas,
195 Is writen, God woot, whoso koude it rede,
The deeth of every man, withouten drede196.
In sterres many a winter therbiforn197
Was write198 the deeth of Ector, Achilles,
Of Pompey, Julius, er they were born;
200 The strif of Thebes, and of Hercules,
Of Sampson, Turnus, and of Socrates
The deeth; but mennes wittes been so dulle,
That no wight kan wel rede it atte fulle203.
This Sowdan for his privee conseil204 sente,
205 And shortly of this matere for to pace205,
He hath to hem declared his entente,
And seide hem, certein, but he mighte have grace207
To han Custaunce withinne a litel space208,
He nas but deed209, and charged hem in hie
210 To shapen210 for his lif som remedye.
Diverse men diverse thinges seiden;
They argumenten212, casten up and doun.
Many a subtil reson forth they leiden213;
They speke of magik and abusioun214.
215 But finally, as in conclusioun,
They kan nat seen in that noon avauntage,
Ne in noon oother wey, save mariage.
Thanne sawe they therinne swich difficultee,
By wey of reson219, for to speke al plain,
220 Bicause that ther was swich diversitee
Bitwene hir bothe221 lawes, that they seyn
They trowe222 that ‘no Cristen prince wolde fain
Wedden his child under oure lawe swete
That us was taught by Mahoun224, oure prophete.’
225 And he answerde, ‘Rather than I lese225
Custaunce, I wol be cristned, doutelees.
I moot227 been hires; I may noon oother chese.
I pray yow, hold youre argumentz in pees228;
Saveth my lif, and beth noght recchelees229
230 To geten hire that hath my lif in cure230,
For in this wo I may nat longe endure.’
What nedeth gretter dilatacioun232?
I seye, by tretis233 and embassadrye,
And by the Popes mediacioun,
235 And al the chirche, and al the chivalrye,
That in destruccioun of Maumetrye236,
And in encrees of Cristes lawe deere,
They been acorded, so as ye shal heere:
How that the Sowdan and his baronage
240 And alle his lieges sholde ycristned be,
And he shal han Custaunce in mariage,
And certein gold – I noot242 what quantitee;
And243 heerto founde sufficient seuretee.
This same acord was sworn on either side.
245 Now, faire Custaunce, almighty God thee gide!
Now wolde som men waiten246, as I gesse,
That I sholde tellen al the purveiaunce247
That th’Emperour, of his grete noblesse,
Hath shapen249 for his doghter, dame Custaunce.
250 Wel may men knowe that so greet ordinaunce250
May no man tellen in a litel clause251,
As was arrayed for so heigh252 a cause.
Bisshopes been shapen253 with hire for to wende,
Lordes, ladies, knightes of renoun,
255 And oother folk inowe255 – this is th’ende.
And notified256 is thurghout the toun
That every wight with greet devocioun
Sholde preyen Crist that he this mariage
Receive in gree259, and spede this viage.
260 The day is comen of hir departinge –
I seye the woful day fatal is come,
That ther may be no lenger taryinge,
But forthward they hem dressen263, alle and some.
Custaunce, that was with sorwe al overcome,
265 Ful pale arist265, and dresseth hire to wende,
For wel she seeth ther is noon oother ende.
Allas, what wonder is it thogh she wepte,
That shal be sent to straunge268 nacioun,
Fro freendes269 that so tendrely hir kepte,
270 And to be bounde under subjeccioun
Of oon, she knoweth noght his condicioun?
Housbondes been alle goode, and han been yoore272;
That knowen wives – I dar sey yow namoore.
‘Fader,’ she seide, ‘thy wrecched child Custaunce,
275 Thy yonge doghter fostred up275 so softe,
And ye, my moder, my soverein plesaunce276
Over alle thing, out-taken277 Crist on-lofte,
Custaunce youre child hir recomaundeth278 ofte
Unto youre grace, for I shal to279 Surrye,
280 Ne shal I nevere seen yow moore with eye.
‘Allas, unto the Barbre281 nacioun
I moste anon, sin that it is youre wille!
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