The canterbury tales, p.42
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       The Canterbury Tales, p.42

           Geoffrey Chaucer

  Ay undiscreet996 and chaunginge as a vane,

  Delitinge evere in rumbul997 that is newe,

  For lik the moone ay wexe998 ye and wane!

  Ay ful of clapping999, deere inow a jane!

  1000 Youre doom1000 is fals, youre constance ivele preveth;

  A ful greet fool is he that on yow leveth1001.

  – Thus seiden sadde1002 folk in that citee,

  Whan that the peple gazed up and doun,

  For they were glad, right for the noveltee1004,

  1005 To han a newe lady of hir toun.

  Namoore of this make I now mencioun,

  But to Grisilde again wol I me dresse1007,

  And telle hir constance and hir bisinesse1008.

  Ful bisy was Grisilde in everything

  1010 That to the feste was apertinent1010.

  Right noght was she abaist of1011 hir clothing,

  Thogh it were rude1012, and somdel eek to-rent,

  But with glad cheere to the yate1013 is went

  With oother folk, to greete the markisesse,

  1015 And after that dooth forth hir bisinesse1015.

  With so glad cheere his gestes she receiveth,

  And so konningly1017, everich in his degree,

  That no defaute no man aperceiveth.

  But ay they wondren what she mighte be

  1020 That in so povre array was for to se,

  And koude1021 swich honour and reverence,

  And worthily they preisen hir prudence.

  In al this mene-while she ne stente1023

  This maide and eek hir brother to commende

  1025 With al hir herte, in ful benigne entente,

  So wel that no man koude hir pris amende1026.

  But at the laste, whan that thise lordes wende

  To sitten doun to mete, he gan to calle

  Grisilde, as she was bisy in his halle.

  1030 ‘Grisilde,’ quod he, as it were in his pley1030,

  ‘How liketh thee my wif and hir beautee?’

  ‘Right wel,’ quod she, ‘my lord, for, in good fey,

  A fairer saw I nevere noon than she.

  I prey to God yeve hire prosperitee;

  1035 And so hope I that he wol to yow sende

  Plesance inogh1036, unto youre lives ende.

  ‘O thing biseke1037 I yow, and warne also,

  That ye ne prike1038 with no tormentinge

  This tendre maiden, as ye han don mo1039;

  1040 For she is fostred in hir norissinge1040

  Moore tendrely, and to my supposinge1041,

  She koude nat adversitee endure

  As koude a povre1043 fostred creature.’

  And whan this Walter saw hir pacience,

  1045 Hir glade cheere1045, and no malice at al,

  And he so ofte had doon to hire offence,

  And she ay sad1047 and constant as a wal,

  Continuinge1048 evere hir innocence overal,

  This sturdy1049 markis gan his herte dresse

  1050 To rewen1050 upon hir wifly stedfastnesse.

  ‘This is inogh, Grisilde min,’ quod he;

  ‘Be now namoore agast1052 ne ivele apaied.

  I have thy feith and thy benignitee,

  As wel as evere womman was, assayed,

  1055 In greet estat, and povreliche arrayed.

  Now knowe I, deere wif, thy stedfastnesse!’

  And hire in armes took and gan hir kesse1057.

  And she for wonder took of it no keep1058;

  She herde nat what thing he to hir seide.

  1060 She ferde1060 as she hadde stirt out of a sleep,

  Til she out of hir mazednesse1061 abreide.

  ‘Grisilde,’ quod he, ‘by God that for us deide,

  Thow art my wif, ne noon oother I have,

  Ne nevere hadde, as God my soule save!

  1065 ‘This is thy doghter, which thow hast supposed

  To be my wif; that oother, feithfully,

  Shal be min heir, as I have ay disposed1067;

  Thow bare him in thy body, trewely.

  At Boloigne have I kept hem prively;

  1070 Tak hem again, for now maystow nat seye

  That thow hast lorn1071 noon of thy children tweye.

  ‘And folk that ootherweys1072 han seid of me,

  I warne hem wel, that I have doon this dede

  For no malice, ne for no crueltee,

  1075 But for t’assaye in thee thy wommanhede,

  And nat to sleen1076 my children – God forbede! –

  But for to kepe hem prively and stille1077,

  Til I thy purpos knewe and al thy wille.’

  Whan she this herde, aswowne1079 doun she falleth

  1080 For pitous joye, and after hir swowninge,

  She bothe hir yonge children to hire calleth,

  And in hir armes, pitously wepinge,

  Embraceth hem, and tendrely kissinge,

  Ful lik a moder, with hir salte teres

  1085 She batheth bothe hir1085 visage and hir heres.

  O, which1086 a pitous thing it was to se

  Hir swowning and hir humble vois to heere!

  ‘Graunt mercy, lord, God thanke it yow,’ quod she,

  ‘That ye han saved1089 me my children deere!

  1090 Now rekke1090 I nevere to been ded right heere;

  Sith I stonde in youre love and in youre grace,

  No fors1092 of deeth, ne whan my spirit pace.

  ‘O tendre, o deere, o yonge children mine,

  Youre woful moder wende stedfastly

  1095 That cruel houndes, or som foul vermine,

  Hadde eten yow; but God, of his mercy,

  And youre benigne fader tendrely

  Hath doon yow kept1098!’ – and in that same stounde

  Al sodeinly she swapte1099 adoun to grounde.

  1100 And in hir swough1100 so sadly holdeth she

  Hir children two, whan she gan hem t’embrace,

  That with greet sleighte1102 and greet difficultee

  The children from hir arm they gonne arace1103.

  O, many a teer on many a pitous face

  1105 Doun ran of hem that stoden hir biside;

  Unnethe1106 aboute hire mighte they abide.

  Walter hir gladeth1107, and hir sorwe slaketh;

  She riseth up, abaised1108, from hir traunce,

  And every wight hir joye and feste maketh1109,

  1110 Til she hath caught again hir contenaunce1110.

  Walter hir dooth so feithfully plesaunce1111

  That it was deintee for to seen the cheere1112

  Bitwix hem two, now they ben met ifeere1113.

  Thise ladies, whan that they hir1114 time say,

  1115 Han taken hire and into chambre goon,

  And strepen hire out of hir rude1116 array,

  And in a clooth of gold that brighte shoon,

  With a coroune of many a riche stoon

  Upon hir heed, they into halle hir broghte,

  1120 And ther she was honured as hir oghte.

  Thus hath this pitous day a blisful ende,

  For every man and womman dooth his might

  This day in murthe1123 and revel to dispende,

  Til on the welkne1124 shoon the sterres light.

  1125 For moore solempne1125 in every mannes sight

  This feste was, and gretter of costage1126,

  Than was the revel of hir mariage.

  Ful many a yeer in heigh prosperitee

  Liven thise two, in concord and in reste,

  1130 And richely1130 his doghter maried he

  Unto a lord, oon of the worthieste

  Of al Itaille; and thanne in pees and reste

  His wives fader in his court he kepeth,

  Til that the soule out of his body crepeth.

  1135 His sone succedeth in his heritage1135

  In reste and pees, after his fader1136 day,

  And fortunat was eek in mariage –

  Al1138 putte he nat his wif in gre
t assay.

  This world is nat so strong, it is no nay,

  1140 As it hath been in olde times yore1140.

  And herkneth what this auctour seyth therfore:

  This storye is seid, nat for that wives sholde

  Folwen Grisilde as in humilitee,

  For it were inportable1144, thogh they wolde;

  1145 But for that every wight, in his degree,

  Sholde be constant in adversitee

  As was Grisilde – therfore Petrak writeth

  This storye, which with heigh style he enditeth1148.

  For, sith a womman was so pacient

  1150 Unto a mortal man, wel moore us oghte

  Receiven al in gree1151 that God us sent.

  For greet skile is, he preve that he wroghte1152;

  But he ne tempteth no man that he boghte1153,

  As seyth Seint Jame, if ye his pistel1154 rede.

  1155 He preveth folk alday1155, it is no drede,

  And suffreth1156 us, as for oure excercise,

  With sharpe scourges of adversitee

  Ful ofte to be bete in sondry wise;

  Nat for to knowe oure wil, for certes he,

  1160 Er we were born, knew al oure freletee1160.

  And for oure beste is al his governance1161;

  Lat us thanne live in vertuous suffrance1162.

  But o word, lordinges, herkneth, er I go:

  It were1164 ful hard to finde nowadayes

  1165 In al a toun Grisildis thre or two;

  For, if that they were put to swiche assayes1166,

  The gold of hem hath now so badde alayes1167

  With bras, that thogh the coine be fair at eye1168,

  It wolde rather breste atwo1169 than plye.

  1170 For which heere, for the Wives love of Bathe1170 –

  Whos lif and al hir secte1171 God maintene

  In heigh maistrye1172, and elles were it scathe –

  I wol with lusty herte, fressh and grene,

  Seye yow a song, to glade yow1174, I wene;

  1175 And lat us stinte of1175 ernestful matere.

  Herkneth my song, that seyth in this manere:

  L’envoy1176 de Chaucer.

  Grisilde is deed, and eek hir pacience,

  And bothe atones1178 buried in Itaille.

  For which I crye in open audience1179,

  1180 No wedded man so hardy1180 be t’assaille

  His wives pacience, in trust to finde

  Grisildis, for in certein he shal faille.

  O noble wives, ful of heigh prudence,

  Lat noon humilitee youre tonge naile!

  1185 Ne lat no clerk have cause or diligence

  To write of yow a storye of swich mervaille

  As of Grisildis, pacient and kinde,

  Lest Chichevache yow swelwe1188 in hir entraille!

  Folweth Ekko, that holdeth no silence,

  1190 But evere answereth at the countretaille1190.

  Beth nat bidaffed1191 for youre innocence,

  But sharply tak on yow the governaille1192.

  Emprenteth1193 wel this lessoun in youre minde,

  For commune profit sith it may availle1194.

  1195 Ye archewives, stondeth at defense1195,

  Sin ye be strong as is a greet camaille1196;

  Ne suffreth1197 nat that men yow doon offense.

  And sklendre wives, fieble as in bataille,

  Beth egre1199 as is a tigre yond in Inde;

  1200 Ay clappeth1200 as a mille, I yow consaille!

  Ne dreed hem nat, dooth hem no reverence;

  For thogh thin housbond armed be in maille1202,

  The arwes1203 of thy crabbed eloquence

  Shal perce his brest and eek his aventaille1204.

  1205 In jalousye I rede1205 eek thow him binde,

  And thow shalt make him couche1206 as dooth a quaille.

  If thow be fair, ther folk ben in presence1207

  Shewe thow thy visage, and thin apparaille1208.

  If thow be foul, be fre of thy dispence1209;

  1210 To gete thee freendes ay do thy travaille1210.

  Be ay of cheere as light as leef on linde1211,

  And lat him care1212, and wepe, and wringe, and waille!

  Bihoold the murye wordes of the Hoost.

  1212a This worthy Clerk, whan ended was his tale,

  Oure Hoost seide and swoor, ‘By Goddes bones,

  Me were levere1212c than a barel ale

  My wif at hom had herd this legend ones!

  This is a gentil tale, for the nones,

  As to my purpos, wiste ye my wille.

  1212g But thing that wol nat be, lat it be stille.’

  Heere endeth the Tale of the Clerk of Oxenford.


  The Prologe of the Marchantes Tale.

  ‘Weping and wailing, care and oother sorwe

  I knowe inogh1214, on even and amorwe,’

  1215 Quod the Marchant, ‘and so doon othere mo

  That wedded been; I trowe1216 that it be so,

  For wel I woot, it fareth so1217 with me.

  I have a wif, the worste that may be;

  For thogh the feend1219 to hire ycoupled were,

  1220 She wolde him overmacche1220, I dar wel swere.

  What1221 sholde I yow reherce in special

  Hir hye malice? She is a shrewe at al1222!

  Ther is a long and large difference

  Bitwix Grisildis grete pacience,

  1225 And of my wif the passing1225 crueltee.

  Were I unbounden1226, also moot I thee,

  I wolde nevere eft1227 come in the snare.

  We wedded men live in sorwe and care.

  Assaye whoso wol1229, and he shal finde

  1230 That I seye sooth, by Seint Thomas of Inde! –

  As for the moore1231 part; I sey nat alle.

  God shilde1232 that it sholde so bifalle!

  A, goode sire Hoost, I have ywedded be

  Thise monthes two, and moore nat, pardee;

  1235 And yet I trowe, he that al his live

  Wiflees1236 hath been, though that men wolde him rive

  Unto the herte, ne koude in no manere

  Tellen so muchel sorwe as I now heere

  Koude tellen of my wives cursednesse1239!’

  1240 ‘Now,’ quod oure Hoost, ‘Marchaunt, so God yow blesse,

  Sin ye so muchel knowen of that art,

  Ful hertely I pray yow, telle us part.’

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