The canterbury tales, p.39
The Canterbury Tales, p.39Geoffrey Chaucer
She knew wel labour, but noon idel ese.
But thogh this maide tendre were of age,
Yet in the brest of hir virginitee
220 Ther was enclosed ripe and sad corage220.
And in greet reverence and charitee
Hir olde povre fader fostred222 she.
A fewe sheepe, spinninge223, on feld she kepte;
She wolde noght been idel til she slepte.
225 And whan she homward cam, she wolde bringe
Wortes226 or othere herbes, times ofte,
The whiche she shredde227 and seeth for hir livinge,
And made hir bed ful hard and nothing228 softe.
And ay she kepte hir fadres lif on-lofte229,
230 With every obeisance and diligence
That child may doon to fadres reverence.
Upon Grisilde, this povre creature,
Ful ofte sithe233 this markis sette his eye
As he on hunting rood, paraventure;
235 And whan it fil235 that he mighte hire espye,
He noght with wantowne236 looking of folye
His eyen caste on hire, but in sad wise237
Upon hir cheere238 he wolde him ofte avise,
Commendinge in his herte hir wommanhede,
240 And eek hir vertu, passing240 any wight
Of so yong age, as wel in cheere as dede.
For thogh the peple hath no greet insight
In vertue, he considered ful right
Hir bountee244, and disposed that he wolde
245 Wedde hire oonly, if evere he wedden sholde.
The day of wedding cam, but no wight kan
Telle what womman that it sholde be.
For which merveille wondred many a man,
And seiden, whan they were in privetee249,
250 ‘Wol nat oure lord yet leve his vanitee250?
Wol he nat wedde? Allas, allas the while251!
Why wol he thus himself and us bigile252?’
But nathelees, this markis hath doon make253
Of gemmes, set in gold and in asure254,
255 Broches and ringes, for Grisildis sake.
And of hir clothing took he the mesure
By a maide lik to hir stature257,
And eek of othere ornamentes alle
That unto swich a wedding sholde falle259.
260 The time of undren260 of the same day
Approcheth, that this wedding sholde be.
And al the paleis put was in array262,
Bothe halle and chambres, ech in his degree263.
Houses of office264 stuffed with plentee
265 Ther maystow seen, of deintevous vitaille265
That may be founde as fer as last Itaille266.
This royal markis, richely arrayed,
Lordes and ladies in his compaignye,
The whiche that to the feste were yprayed269,
270 And of his retenue the bachelrye270,
With many a soun of sondry melodye,
Unto the village of the which I tolde
In this array the righte wey273 han holde.
Grisilde, of this, God woot, ful innocent,
275 That for hire shapen275 was al this array,
To fecchen water at a welle is went276,
And cometh hoom as soone as ever she may;
For wel she hadde herd seid, that thilke day
The markis sholde wedde, and if she mighte,
280 She wolde fain280 han seyn som of that sighte.
She thoghte, ‘I wole with othere maidens stonde,
That been my felawes, in oure dore and se
The markisesse283, and therfore wol I fonde
To doon at hoom as soone as it may be
285 The labour which that longeth unto me,
And thanne I may at leiser hir biholde,
If she this wey unto the castel holde.’
And as she wolde over hir thresshfold288 gon,
The markis cam and gan hire for to calle,
290 And she set doun hir water-pot anon
Biside the thresshfold, in an oxes stalle,
And doun upon hir knees she gan to falle292,
And with sad293 contenance kneleth stille
Til she hadde herd what was the lordes wille.
295 This thoghtful295 markis spak unto this maide
Ful sobrely, and seide in this manere:
‘Where is youre fader, O Grisildis?’ he saide.
And she with reverence, in humble cheere298,
Answerde, ‘Lord, he is al redy heere.’
300 And in she goth withouten lenger lette300,
And to the markis she hir fader fette301.
He by the hand than took this olde man,
And seide thus, whan he him hadde aside:
‘Janicula, I neither may ne kan
305 Lenger305 the plesance of min herte hide.
If that thow vouchesauf306, whatso bitide,
Thy doghter wol I take, er that I wende,
As for my wif, unto my lives ende.
‘Thow lovest me, I woot it wel, certein,
310 And art my feithful lige man310 ybore,
And al that liketh me, I dar wel seyn,
It liketh thee, and specially therfore,
Tel me that point that I have seid bifore –
If that thow wolt unto that purpos drawe314,
315 To take me as for thy sone-in-lawe.’
The sodein cas316 this man astoneyd so
That reed he wax317, abaist, and al quaking
He stood; unnethe318 seide he wordes mo
But oonly thus: ‘Lord,’ quod he, ‘my willing319
320 Is as ye wole320, ne ayeins youre liking
I wol nothing; ye be my lorde so deere.
Right as yow list governeth this matere.’
‘Yet wol I’, quod this markis softely,
‘That in thy chambre I and thow and she
325 Have a collacioun325; and wostow why?
For I wol aske if it hir wille be
To be my wif and rule hire after327 me.
And al this shal be doon in thy presence;
I wol noght speke out of thin audience329.’
330 And in the chambre whil they were aboute
Hir tretis331, which as ye shal after heere,
The peple cam unto the hous withoute332,
And wondred hem333 in how honeste manere
And tentifly334 she kepte hir fader deere.
335 But outrely335 Grisildis wondre mighte,
For nevere erst336 ne saw she swich a sighte.
No wonder is thogh that she were astoned337,
To seen so greet a gest come in that place338.
She nevere was to swiche gestes woned339,
340 For which she looked with ful pale face.
But shortly forth this matere for to chace341,
Thise arn the wordes that the markis saide
To this benigne, verray343, feithful maide:
‘Grisilde,’ he seide, ‘ye shal wel understonde
345 It liketh to youre fader and to me
That I yow wedde; and eek it may so stonde346,
As I suppose, ye wol that it so be.
But thise demandes aske I first,’ quod he,
‘That sith it shal be doon in hastif wise,
350 Wol ye assente, or ellis yow avise350?
‘I sey this, be ye redy with good herte
To al my lust352, and that I frely may,
As me best thinketh, do yow laughe or smerte353,
And nevere ye to grucche354 it, night ne day,
355 And eek whan I sey “ye”, ne sey nat “nay”,
Neither by word ne frowning contenance?
Swere this, and here I swere oure alliance.’
Wondringe upon358 this word, quaking for drede,
She seide, ‘Lord, undigne and unworthy
360 Am I to thilke honour that ye me bede360.
But as ye wol361 yourself, right so wol I.
In werk363 ne thoght I nil yow disobeye,
For to be deed, thogh me were looth to deye364.’
365 ‘This is inogh, Grisilde min,’ quod he;
And forth he goth with a ful sobre cheere
Out at the dore, and after that cam she,
And to the peple he seide in this manere:
‘This is my wif’, quod he, ‘that standeth heere.
370 Honureth hire and loveth hire, I preye,
Whoso me loveth; ther is namoore to seye.’
And for that nothing of hir olde gere372
She sholde bringe into his hous, he bad
That wommen sholde dispoilen374 hir right there;
375 Of which thise ladies were noght right glad
To handle hir clothes wherinne376 she was clad.
But nathelees, this maide bright of hewe377
Fro foot to heed they clothed han al newe378.
Hir heris han they kembd379, that laye untressed
380 Ful rudely380, and with hir fingres smale
A corone on hir381 heed they han ydressed,
And sette hire ful of nowches382 grete and smale.
Of hir array what383 sholde I make a tale?
Unnethe the peple hir knew for hir fairnesse384
385 Whan she translated385 was in swich richesse.
This markis hath hire spoused with a ring
Broght for the same cause, and thanne hir sette
Upon an hors snow-whit and wel ambling388,
And to his paleis, er he lenger lette389,
390 With joyful peple that hir ladde and mette390,
Conveyed hire; and thus the day they spende
In revel, til the sonne gan descende392.
And shortly forth this tale for to chace393,
I seye, that to this newe markisesse
395 God hath swich favour sent hire of his grace
That it ne semed nat by liklinesse396
That she was born and fed in rudenesse397,
As in a cote398 or in an oxe-stalle,
But norissed in an emperoures halle.
400 To every wight she woxen is400 so deere
And worshipful401, that folk ther she was bore,
That from hir birthe knewe hire yeer by yeere,
Unnethe trowed403 they, but dorste han swore,
That to Janicle, of which I spak bifore,
405 She doghter were, for as by conjecture
Hem thoughte she was another creature.
For thogh that evere vertuous was she,
She was encressed408 in swich excellence
Of thewes goode409, yset in heigh bountee,
410 And so discreet and fair of eloquence,
So benigne and so digne of reverence,
And koude so the peples herte embrace412,
That ech hir lovede that looked on hir face.
Noght oonly of Saluces in the toun
415 Publissed was the bountee of hir name,
But eek biside416 in many a regioun.
If oon seide wel, another seide the same.
So spradde418 of hir heighe bountee the fame
That men and wommen, as wel yonge as olde,
420 Goon to Saluce upon hire to biholde.
Thus Walter, lowely – nay, but royally –
Wedded with fortunat honestetee422,
In Goddes pees liveth ful esily
At hom, and outward grace inow424 hadde he.
425 And for he saugh that under lowe degree
Was ofte vertu hid, the peple him helde
A prudent man, and that is seyn ful selde427.
Noght oonly this Grisildis thurgh hir wit
Koude429 al the feet of wifly hoomlinesse,
430 But eek, whan that the cas required it,
The commune profit koude she redresse431.
Ther nas432 discord, rancour, ne hevinesse
In al that land that she ne koude apese433,
And wisely bringe hem alle in reste and ese.
435 Thogh that hir housbond absent were, anon,
If gentil men or othere of hir contree
Were wrothe, she wolde bringen hem aton437.
So wise and ripe438 wordes hadde she,
And juggementz of so greet equitee,
440 That she from hevene sent was, as men wende440,
Peple to save and every wrong t’amende.
Nat longe time after that this Grisild
Was wedded, she a doghter hath ybore443.
Al had hir levere444 have born a knave child,
445 Glad was the markis and the folk therfore.
For thogh a maide child coome al bifore,
She may unto a knave child atteine447
By liklihede, sin she nis nat bareine448.
Ther fil, as it bifalleth times mo449,
450 Whan that this child had souked but a throwe450,
This markis in his herte longeth so
To tempte his wif, hir sadnesse452 for to knowe,
That he ne mighte out of his herte throwe
This merveillous desir, his wif t’assaye454;
455 Nedelees, God woot, he thoghte hire for t’affraye455!
He hadde assayed hire inow456 bifore,
And fond457 hire evere good; what neded it
Hir for to tempte, and alwey moore and moore,
Thogh som men preise it for a subtil wit459?
460 But as for me, I seye that ivele it sit460
T’assaye a wif whan that it is no nede461,
And putten hire in angwyssh and in drede.
For which this markis wroghte463 in this manere:
He cam allone a-night theras she lay,
465 With steerne face, and with ful trouble cheere465,
And seide thus: ‘Grisilde,’ quod he, ‘that day
That I yow took out of youre povre array,
And putte yow in estat of heigh noblesse468 –
Ye have nat that forgeten, as I gesse?
470 ‘I seye, Grisilde, this present dignitee,
In which that I have put yow, as I trowe471,
Maketh yow nat foryetful for to be
That I yow took in povre estat ful lowe,
For any wele ye mote yourselven knowe474.
475 Tak hede of every word that I yow seye;
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