The canterbury tales, p.41
The Canterbury Tales,
735 To tempte his wif was set al his entente735.
Whan that his doghter twelve yeer was of age,
He to the court of Rome, in subtil737 wise
Enformed of his wil, sente his message738,
Comaundinge hem swiche bulles739 to devise
740 As to his cruel purpos may suffise:
How that the Pope, as for his peples reste,
Bad him to wedde another, if him leste.
I seye, he bad they sholde contrefete743
The Popes bulles, making mencioun
745 That he hath leve his firste wif to lete745,
As by the Popes dispensacioun,
To stinte747 rancour and dissencioun
Bitwixe his peple and him; thus seide the bulle,
The which they han publissed749 at the fulle.
750 The rude750 peple, as it no wonder is,
Wenden751 ful wel that it hadde ben right so.
But whan thise tidinges cam to Grisildis,
I deme753 that hir herte was ful wo,
But she, ilike sad754 for everemo,
755 Disposed was, this humble creature,
Th’adversitee of Fortune al t’endure,
Abidinge757 evere his lust and his plesance
To whom that she was yeven, herte and al,
As to hir verray worldly suffisance759.
760 But shortly if this storye telle I shal,
This markis writen hath in special761
A lettre in which he sheweth762 his entente,
And secrely he to Boloigne it sente.
To the Erl of Panik, which that hadde tho
765 Wedded his suster, preyde765 he specially
To bringen hom again his children two,
In honurable estat al openly.
But o thing he him prayede outrely,
That he to no wight, thogh men wolde enquere,
770 Sholde nat telle whos children that they were,
But seye the maiden sholde ywedded be
Unto the Markis of Saluce anon.
And as this erl was preyed, so dide he,
For at day set774 he on his wey is gon
775 Toward Saluce, and lordes many oon
In riche array776, this maiden for to gide,
Hir yonge brother riding hir biside.
Arrayed778 was toward hir mariage
This fresshe maide, ful of gemmes clere779.
780 Hir brother, which that seven yeer was of age,
Arrayed eek ful fressh in his manere.
And thus in gret noblesse and with glad cheere782,
Toward Saluces shaping783 hir journey,
Fro day to day they riden in hir wey.
785 Among al this785, after his wikke usage,
This markis, yet his wif to tempte moore
To the outreste preve787 of hir corage,
Fully to han experience788 and loore
If that she were as stedefast as bifore,
790 He on a day in open audience
Ful boistously791 hath seid hire this sentence:
‘Certes, Grisilde, I hadde inogh plesance792
To han yow to my wif for youre goodnesse,
As for youre trouthe and youre obeisance –
795 Noght for youre linage ne for youre richesse.
But now knowe I in verray sothfastnesse796
That in gret lordshipe, if I wel avise797,
Ther is gret servitute in sondry wise.
‘I may nat do as every plowman may;
800 My peple me constreineth for to take
Another wif, and cryen801 day by day.
And eek the Pope, rancour for to slake802
Consenteth it, that dar I undertake.
And trewely, thus muche I wol yow seye:
805 My newe wif is cominge by the weye805.
‘Be strong of herte, and voide806 anon hir place.
And thilke dowere807 that ye broghten me,
Tak it again; I graunte it of my grace.
Retourneth to youre fadres hous,’ quod he.
810 ‘No man may alwey han prosperitee;
With evene811 herte I rede yow t’endure
The strook of Fortune or of aventure812.’
And she again answerde in pacience:
‘My lord,’ quod she, ‘I woot, and wiste alway,
815 How that bitwixen youre magnificence
And my poverte no wight kan ne may
Maken comparisoun, it is no nay817.
I ne heeld me nevere digne in no manere818
To be youre wif – no, ne youre chambrere819.
820 ‘And in this hous ther ye me lady made –
The heighe God take I for my witnesse,
And also wysly he my soule glade –822
I nevere heeld me lady ne maistresse,
But humble servant to youre worthinesse824,
825 And evere shal, whil that my lif may dure,
Aboven every worldly creature.
‘That ye so longe of youre benignitee
Han holden me in honour and nobleye828,
Whereas I was noght worthy for to be,
830 That thonke I God and yow, to whom I preye
Foryelde it yow831; ther is namoore to seye.
Unto my fader gladly wol I wende,
And with him dwelle unto my lives ende.
‘Ther I was fostred of a child834 ful smal,
835 Til I be deed my lif ther wol I lede,
A widwe clene in body, herte and al.
For sith I yaf to yow my maidenhede837,
And am youre trewe wif, it is no drede838,
God shilde839 swich a lordes wif to take
840 Another man to housbond or to make840!
‘And of youre newe wif God of his grace
So graunte yow wele842 and prosperitee;
For I wol gladly yelden hire my place,
In which that I was blisful wont to be.
845 For sith it liketh yow, my lord,’ quod she,
‘That whilom846 weren al min hertes reste,
That I shal goon, I wol goon whan yow leste.
‘But theras ye me profre swich dowaire848
As I first broghte, it is wel in my minde
850 It were my wrecched clothes, nothing faire,
The whiche to me were hard now for to finde.
O goode God, how gentil and how kinde
Ye semed, by youre speche and youre visage,
The day that maked was oure mariage!
855 ‘But sooth is seid855 – algate I finde it trewe,
For in effect it proved is on me856 –
Love is noght old as whan that it is newe.
But certes, lord, for noon adversitee858,
To dien in the cas859, it shal nat be
860 That evere in word or werk I shal repente
That I yow yaf min herte in hool entente861.
‘My lord, ye woot that in my fadres place862
Ye dide me strepe863 out of my povre wede,
And richely me cladden864 of youre grace.
865 To yow broght I noght ellis, out of drede,
But feith, and nakednesse, and maidenhede.
And here again youre clothing I restore867,
And eek youre wedding ring for everemoore.
‘The remenant of youre jewels redy be
870 Inwith870 youre chambre, dar I saufly sayn.
Naked out of my fadres hous’, quod she,
‘I cam, and naked moot I turne again.
Al youre plesance wol I folwen fain873.
But yet I hope it be nat youre entente
875 That I smoklees875 out of youre paleis wente.
‘Ye koude nat doon so dishoneste876 a thing
That thilke wombe in which youre children leye
Sholde biforn the peple in my walking
Be seyn879 al bare; wherfore I yow preye,
880 Lat me nat lik a worm go by the weye.
Remembre yow, min owene lord so deere,
I was youre wif, thogh I unworthy weere.
‘Wherfore in gerdoun of883 my maidenhede,
Which that I broghte, and noght again I bere884,
885 As vouchethsauf885 to yeve me to my mede
But swich a smok as I was wont to were886,
That I therwith may wrye887 the wombe of here
That was youre wif; and here take I my leve
Of yow, min owene lord, lest I yow greve.’
890 ‘The smok’, quod he, ‘that thow hast on thy bak,
Lat it be stille, and bere it forth with thee.’
But wel unnethes892 thilke word he spak,
But wente his wey, for routhe and for pitee.
Biforn the folk hirselven strepeth she,
895 And in hir smok, with heed and foot al bare,
Toward hir fader hous forth is she fare896.
The folk hir folwen, wepinge in hir weye,
And Fortune ay they cursen as they goon.
But she fro weping kepte hir eyen dreye,
900 Ne in this time word ne spak she noon.
Hir fader, that this tidinge herd anon,
Curseth the day and time that Nature
Shoop903 him to been a lives creature.
For out of doute904 this olde povre man
905 Was evere in suspect of905 hir mariage.
For evere he demed, sith that it bigan,
That whan the lord fulfild hadde his corage907
Him wolde thinke it were a disparage
To his estat so lowe for t’alighte909,
910 And voiden910 hire as soone as evere he mighte.
Agains911 his doghter hastiliche goth he,
For he by noise of folk knew hir cominge.
And with hir olde cote913, as it mighte be,
He covered hire, ful sorwefully wepinge.
915 But on hir body mighte he it nat bringe,
For rude916 was the clooth, and she moore of age
By dayes fele917 than at hir mariage.
Thus with hir fader, for a certein space,
Dwelleth this flour of wifly pacience,
920 That neither by hir wordes ne hir face
Biforn the folk, ne eek in hir absence,
Ne shewed she that hir was doon offence922;
Ne of hir heighe estat no remembrance
Ne hadde she, as by hir contenance924.
925 No wonder is, for in hir grete estat
Hir goost926 was evere in plein humilitee;
No tendre mouth, noon herte delicat927,
No pompe, no semblant of realtee928,
But ful of pacient benignitee,
930 Discreet and pridelees930, ay honurable,
And to hir housbonde evere meke and stable.
Men speke of Job, and moost for his humblesse,
As clerkes whan hem lest kan wel endite933,
Namely of men, but as in soothfastnesse934,
935 Thogh clerkes preise wommen but a lite935,
Ther kan no man in humblesse him acquite936
As womman kan, ne kan be half so trewe
As wommen been, but it be falle of newe938.
Fro Boloigne is this Erl of Panik come,
940 Of which the fame up sprong940 to moore and lesse;
And to the peples eres, alle and some941,
Was kouth942 eek that a newe markisesse
He with him broghte, in swich pompe and richesse
That nevere was ther seyn944 with mannes eye
945 So noble array in al West Lumbardye.
The markis, which that shoop946 and knew al this,
Er that this erl was come sente his message
For thilke sely948 povre Grisildis,
And she with humble herte and glad visage,
950 Nat with no swollen950 thoght in hir corage,
Cam at his heste, and on hir knees hir sette,
And reverently and wisely she him grette952.
‘Grisilde,’ quod he, ‘my wille is outrely953
This maiden, that shal wedded been to me,
955 Received be tomorwe as really955
As it possible is in min hous to be;
And eek that every wight in his degree
Have his estat958, in sitting and servise
And heigh plesance, as I kan best devise959.
960 ‘I have no wommen suffisant960, certain,
The chambres for t’arraye in ordinance961
After my lust962, and therfore wolde I fain
That thin were al swich manere governance963.
Thow knowest eek of old al my plesance.
965 Though thin array be badde and ivel biseye965,
Do thow thy devoir966, at the leeste weye.’
‘Nat oonly, lord, that I am glad’, quod she,
‘To doon youre lust, but I desire also
Yow for to serve and plese in my degree969,
970 Withouten feinting970, and shal everemo.
Ne nevere, for no wele ne no wo971,
Ne shal the goost withinne min herte stente972
To love yow best, with al my trewe entente.’
And with that word she gan the hous to dighte974,
975 And tables for to sette and beddes make,
And peined hire976 to doon al that she mighte,
Preyinge the chambreres977, for Goddes sake,
To hasten hem, and faste978 swepe and shake.
And she, the mooste servisable979 of alle,
980 Hath every chambre arrayed and his halle.
Abouten undren981 gan this erl alighte,
That with him broghte thise noble children tweye,
For which the peple ran to seen the sighte
Of hire array, so richely biseye984.
985 And thanne at erst985 amonges hem they seye
That Walter was no fool, thogh that him leste986
To chaunge his wif, for it was for the beste.
For she is fairer, as they demen alle,
Than is Grisilde, and moore tendre of age,
990 And fairer fruit bitwene hem sholde falle,
And moore plesant, for hire heigh linage.
Hir brother eek so fair was of visage
That hem to seen the peple hath caught plesance,
Commendinge now the markis governance994.
995 O stormy peple, unsad995 and evere untrewe,
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