The canterbury tales, p.48
The Canterbury Tales,
And openly who is youre freend or fo.
‘And over al this, if any lady bright
Hath set hir herte on any maner wight,
If he be fals, she shal his tresoun see –
140 His newe love and al his subtiltee140 –
So openly, that ther shal nothing hide141.
Wherfore, again this lusty someres tide142,
This mirour and this ring that ye may see
He hath sent to my lady Canacee,
145 Youre excellente doghter that is heere.
‘The vertu146 of the ring, if ye wol heere,
Is this: that if hir list it147 for to were
Upon hir thombe, or in hir purs it bere148,
Ther is no fowel149 that fleeth under the hevene
150 That she ne shal wel understonde his stevene150,
And knowe his mening openly and plein,
And answere him in his langage agein;
And every gras that groweth upon roote,
She shal eek knowe, and whom it wol do boote154,
155 Al be his woundes nevere so depe and wide.
‘This naked swerd that hangeth by my side
Swich vertu hath, that, what man so ye smite157,
Thurghout his armure it wol kerve158 and bite,
Were it as thikke as is a braunched ook.
160 And what man that is wounded with the strook,
Shal nevere be hool161 til that yow list, of grace,
To stroke him with the platte162 in thilke place
Ther he is hurt; this is as muche to seyn
Ye moote with the platte swerd agein
165 Stroke him in the wounde and it wol close.
This is a verray sooth, withouten glose166;
It failleth nat whiles it is in youre hold167.’
And whan this knight hath thus his tale ytold,
He rideth out of halle and doun169 he lighte.
170 His steede, which that shoon as sonne brighte,
Stant in the court171, as stille as any stoon.
This knight is to his chambre lad anoon,
And is unarmed, and to mete yset173.
The presentes been ful realliche174 yfet –
175 This is to seyn, the swerd and the mirour –
And born anon into the heighe tour,
With certein officers ordeined therfore177.
And unto Canacee the ring is bore178
Solempnely179, ther she sit at the table.
180 But sikerly, withouten any fable,
The hors of bras, that may nat be remewed181,
It stant as it were to the ground yglewed182.
Ther may no man out of the place it drive
For noon engin184 of windas or polive.
185 And cause why? – for they kan nat the craft185.
And therfore in the place they han it laft,
Til that the knight hath taught hem the manere
To voiden188 him, as ye shal after heere.
Greet was the prees189 that swarmeth to and fro
190 To gauren on190 this hors that stondeth so,
For it so heigh was, and so brood and long,
So wel proporcioned for to ben strong,
Right as it were a steede of Lumbardye;
Therwith so horsly194, and so quik of eye,
195 As it a gentil195 Poileis courser were.
For certes, fro his tail unto his ere,
Nature ne art ne koude him nat amende197
In no degree198, as al the peple wende.
But everemoore199 hir mooste wonder was
200 How that it koude goon200, and was of bras.
It201 was a fairye, as the peple semed.
Diverse202 folk diversely they demed;
As many heddes, as many wittes203 ther been.
They murmured as dooth a swarm of been204,
205 And205 maden skiles after hir fantasies,
Rehersynge206 of thise olde poetries,
And seiden it was lik the Pegasee,
The hors that hadde winges for to flee;
Or ellis it was the Grekes hors Sinoun209,
210 That broghte Troye to destruccioun,
As men mowe in thise olde gestes211 rede.
‘Min herte’, quod oon, ‘is everemoore212 in drede;
I trowe som men of armes been therinne213,
That shapen hem214 this cite for to winne.
215 It were right good that al swich thing were knowe.’
Another rowned216 to his felawe lowe
And seide, ‘He lieth, for it is rather lik
An apparence218 ymaad by som magik,
As jogelours219 pleyen at thise festes grete.’
220 Of sondry doutes thus they jangle220 and trete,
As lewed221 peple demeth comunly
Of thinges that been maad moore subtilly
Than they kan in hir lewednesse223 comprehende;
They demen gladly to the badder ende224.
225 And somme of hem wondred on the mirour,
That born was up unto the maister tour226,
How men mighte in it swiche thinges se.
Another answerde and seide it mighte wel be
Naturelly, by composiciouns229
230 Of anglis230, and of sly reflexiouns,
And seiden that in Rome was swich oon.
They speke of Alocen and Vitulon,
And Aristotle, that writen in hir lives233
Of queinte234 mirours and of perspectives,
235 As knowen they that han hir bookes herd.
And oother folk han wondred on the swerd
That wolde percen thurghout every thing,
And fille in speche of238 Thelophus the king,
And of Achilles with his queinte239 spere,
240 For he koude with it bothe heele and dere240,
Right in swich wise as men may with the swerd,
Of which right now ye han yourselven herd.
They speke of sondry harding243 of metal,
And speke of medicines244 therwithal,
245 And how and whanne it sholde yharded245 be,
Which is unknowe – algates246 unto me.
Tho speeke they of Canacees ring,
And seiden alle that swich a wonder thing
Of craft of ringes herde they nevere non249,
250 Save that he Moises and king Salomon
Hadde a name of251 konning in swich art;
Thus seyn the peple, and drawen hem apart252.
But natheless, somme seiden that it was
Wonder to maken of fern-asshen254 glas,
255 And yet is glas nat lik asshen of fern,
But for256 they han yknowen it so fern,
Therfore cesseth257 hir jangling and hir wonder.
As soore258 wondren somme on cause of thonder,
On ebbe and flood, on gossomer259, and on mist,
260 And alle thing, til that the cause is wist260.
Thus janglen they and demen261 and devise,
Til that the king gan fro the bord arise.
Phebus hath laft the angle meridional263,
And yet264 ascending was the beest royal,
265 The gentil Leon, with his Aldiran,
Whan that this Tartre king, Cambiuskan,
Roos fro his bord theras he sat ful hye.
Biforn him gooth the loude minstralcye
Til he cam to his chambre of parementz269
270 Thereas they sownen270 diverse instrumentz
That it is lik an hevene for to heere.
Now dauncen lusty272 Venus children deere,
For in the Fissh273 hir lady sat ful hye,
And looketh on hem with a freendly eye.
275 This noble king is set upon his trone;
This straunge276 knight is fet to him ful soone,
And on the daunce he gooth with Canacee.
Here is the revel and the jolitee
That is nat able a dul man to devise279!
280 He moste han knowen love and his28
And been a festlich281 man, as fressh as May,
That sholde yow devisen swich array.
Who koude telle yow the forme of daunces
So unkouthe284, and swiche fresshe contenaunces,
285 Swich subtil looking and dissimulinges285,
For drede of jalous mennes aperceivinges286?
No man but Launcelot, and he is deed.
Therfore I passe of288 al this lustiheed;
I seye namoore, but in this jolynesse289
290 I lete hem, til men to the soper dresse290.
The stiward biddeth spices for to hie,
And eek the win, in al this melodye.
The usshers293 and the squiers been ygon;
The spices and the win is come anon.
295 They ete and drinke, and whan this hadde an ende,
Unto the temple, as reson was296, they wende.
The service doon, they soupen297 al by day.
What nedeth yow rehercen298 hir array?
Ech man woot wel, that a kinges feste
300 ath plentee to300 the meeste and to the leeste,
And deintees mo than been in my knowing.
At after-soper gooth this noble king
To seen this hors of bras, with al a route303
Of lordes and of ladies him aboute.
305 Swich wondring was ther on this hors of bras
That, sin the grete sege of Troye was,
Theras307 men wondreden on an hors also,
Ne was ther swich a wondring as was tho308.
But finally, the king axeth this knight
310 The vertu310 of this courser and the might,
And preyed him to telle his governaunce311.
This hors anon bigan to trippe312 and daunce,
Whan that this knight leide hand upon his reine,
And seide, ‘Sire, ther is namoore to seyne
315 But, whan yow list to riden anywhere,
Ye moten316 trille a pin stant in his ere,
Which I shal telle yow bitwix us two.
Ye mote nempne318 him to what place also,
Or to what contree, that yow list to ride.
320 And whan ye come theras yow list abide320,
Bid him descende, and trille another pin –
For therinne lith th’effect of al the gin322 –
And he wol doun descende and doon youre wille.
And in that place he wol abiden stille;
325 Though al the world the contrarye hadde yswore325,
He shal nat thennes be ydrawe326 nor bore.
Or if yow liste bidde him thennes gon,
Trille this pin, and he wol vanisshe anon
Out of the sighte of every maner wight329,
330 And come again, be it by day or night,
Whan that yow list to clepen331 him agein
In swich a gise332 as I shal to yow seyn
Bitwixen yow and me, and that ful soone.
Ride whan yow lust; ther is namoore334 to doone.’
335 Enformed whan the king was of335 that knight,
And hath conceived in his wit336 aright
The manere and the forme of al this thing,
Ful glad and blithe, this noble doghty338 king
Repeireth339 to his revel as biforn.
340 The bridel is unto the tour yborn340,
And kept among his jewels341 leeve and deere;
The hors vanisshed – I noot342 in what manere –
Out of hir sighte; ye gete namoore of me!
But thus I lete344, in lust and jolitee,
345 This Cambiuskan his lordes festeyinge345,
Til wel neigh the day bigan to springe346.
The norice347 of digestioun, the sleep,
Gan on hem winke, and bad hem taken keep348
That muchel drink and labour wol have reste.
350 And with a galping350 mouth hem alle he keste,
And seide that it was time to lie adoun,
For blood was in his dominacioun352.
‘Cherisseth blood, natures freend,’ quod he.
They thanken him, galpinge, by two, by three,
355 And every wight gan drawe him355 to his reste,
As sleep hem bad356; they tooke it for the beste.
Hir dremes shul nat now been told for me;
Ful were hir hedes of fumositee358,
That causeth dreem of which ther nis no charge359.
360 They slepen til that it was prime large360,
The mooste part – but it were361 Canacee.
She was ful mesurable362, as wommen be;
For of hir fader hadde she take leve
To goon to reste soone after it was eve –
365 Hir liste nat365 appalled for to be,
Nor366 on the morwe unfestlich for to se –
And slepte hir firste sleep and thanne awook.
For swich a joye she in hir herte took,
Bothe of hir queinte369 ring and hir mirour,
370 That twenty time she chaunged hir colour.
And in hir sleep, right for impressioun371
Of hir mirour, she hadde a visioun.
Wherfore, er that the sonne gan up glide373,
She cleped on hir maistresse374 hir biside,
375 And seide that hir liste for to rise.
Thise olde wommen that been gladly wise376,
As is hir maistresse, answerde hir anon,
And seide, ‘Madame, whider wole ye gon
Thus erly, for the folk been alle on reste?’
380 ‘I wol’, quod she, ‘arise, for me leste
No lenger for to slepe, and walke aboute.’
Hir maistresse clepith wommen a gret route382,
And up they risen, wel a ten or twelve.
Up riseth fresshe Canacee hirselve,
385 As rody385 and bright as dooth the yonge sonne
That in the Ram386 is foure degrees up ronne –
Noon hyer387 was he whan she redy was.
And forth she walketh esily a pas388,
Arrayed, after the lusty389 seson soote,
390 Lightly, for to pleye and walke on foote,
Nat but with five or sixe of hir meinee,
And in a trench392 forth in the park goth she.
The vapour393 which that fro the erthe glood
Made the sonne to seme rody and brood;
395 But nathelees it was so fair a sighte
That it made al hir hertes for to lighte396,
What for the seson and the morweninge,
And for the fowles398 that she herde singe,
For right anon she wiste what they mente
400 Right by hir song, and knew al hir entente400.
The knotte401 why that every tale is told,
If it be taried402 til that lust be cold
Of hem that han it after herkned403 yoore,
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