The canterbury tales, p.52
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       The Canterbury Tales, p.52
 

           Geoffrey Chaucer
And farwel, al oure revel was ago!

  1205 And yet remoeved1205 they nevere out of the hous,

  Whil they saugh al this sighte merveillous,

  But in his studye, theras1207 his bookes be,

  They seten1208 stille, and no wight but they thre.

  To him this maister called his squier

  1210 And seide him thus: ‘Is redy oure soper?

  Almoost an hour it is, I undertake,

  Sith I yow bad oure soper for to make,

  Whan that thise worthy men wenten with me

  Into my studye, theras my bookes be.’

  1215 ‘Sire,’ quod this squier, ‘whan it liketh yow,

  It is al redy, thogh ye wol right now.’

  ‘Go we thanne soupe,’ quod he, ‘as for the beste.

  This amorous folk somtime mote1218 han hir reste!’

  At after-soper fille they in tretee1219

  1220 What somme sholde this maistres gerdoun1220 be

  To remoeven alle the rokkes of Britaine,

  And eek from Gerounde to the mouth of Saine.

  He made it straunge1223, and swoor, so God him save,

  Lasse than a thousand pound he wolde nat have,

  1225 Ne gladly for that somme he wolde nat gon.

  Aurelius with blisful herte anon

  Answerde thus: ‘Fy on a thousand pound!

  This wide world, which that men seye is round,

  I wolde it yeve, if I were lord of it!

  1230 This bargain is ful drive1230, for we ben knit;

  Ye shal be payed trewely, by my trouthe.

  But looketh now, for no necligence or slouthe

  Ye tarye1233 us heer no lenger than tomorwe.’

  ‘Nay,’ quod this clerk, ‘have heer my feith to borwe1234.’

  1235 To bedde is goon Aurelius whan him leste1235,

  And wel neigh al that night he hadde his reste.

  What for his labour and his hope of blisse,

  His woful herte of penaunce1238 hadde a lisse.

  Upon the morwe, whan that it was day,

  1240 To Britaine tooke they the righte way1240,

  Aurelius and this magicien biside1241,

  And been descended1242 ther they wolde abide.

  And this was, as thise bookes me remembre1243,

  The colde frosty seson of Decembre.

  1245 Phebus wax1245 old, and hewed lik latoun,

  That in his hote declinacioun1246

  Shoon as the burned1247 gold with stremes brighte;

  But now in Capricorn adoun he lighte1248,

  Wheras he shoon ful pale, I dar wel seyn.

  1250 The bittre frostes, with the sleet and rein,

  Destruyed hath the grene in every yerd1251.

  Janus sit by the fir with double berd,

  And drinketh of his bugle horn1253 the win.

  Biforn him stant brawen1254 of the tusked swin,

  1255 And ‘Nowel1255!’ cryeth every lusty man.

  Aurelius in al that evere he kan1256

  Dooth to this maister cheere and reverence1257,

  And preyeth him to doon his diligence

  To bringen him out of his peines smerte,

  1260 Or with a swerd that he wolde slitte his herte.

  This subtil clerk swich routhe1261 hadde of this man

  That night and day he spedde him that he kan1262

  To waite1263 a time of his conclusioun.

  This is to seyn, to make illusioun

  1265 By swich an apparence1265 or jogelrye –

  I ne kan1266 no termes of astrologye –

  That she and every wight sholde wene1267 and seye

  That of Britaine the rokkes were aweye,

  Or ellis they were sonken under grounde.

  1270 So at the laste he hath his time yfounde

  To make his japes1271 and his wrecchednesse

  Of swich a supersticious cursednesse.

  His tables Tolletanes1273 forth he broght,

  Ful wel corrected, ne ther lakked noght,

  1275 Neither his collect ne his expans yeris1275,

  Ne hise rootes1276, ne hise othere geris,

  As been his centris and hise argumentz1277,

  And hise proporcionels1278 convenientz

  For hise equacions1279 in everything.

  1280 And by his eighte speere1280 in his wirking

  He knew ful wel how fer Alnath was shove1281

  Fro the heed of thilke fixe Aries1282 above,

  That in the ninthe speere considered is;

  Ful subtilly he kalkuled1284 al this.

  1285 Whan he hadde founde his firste mansioun,

  He knew the remenaunt by proporcioun1286,

  And knew the arising of his moone wel,

  And in whos face1288, and terme, and everydel,

  And knew ful wel the moones mansioun

  1290 Acordaunt to his operacioun,

  And knew also hise othere observaunces1291

  For swiche illusiouns and swiche meschaunces

  As hethen folk useden in thilke dayes.

  For which no lenger maked he delayes,

  1295 But thurgh his magik, for a wike or tweye1295,

  It semed that alle the rokkes were aweye.

  Aurelius, which that yet despeired is

  Wher1298 he shal han his love or fare amis,

  Awaiteth1299 night and day on this miracle.

  1300 And whan he knew that ther was noon obstacle –

  That voided were thise rokkes everychon –

  Doun to his maistres feet he fil1302 anon,

  And seide, ‘I, woful wrecche, Aurelius,

  Thanke yow, lord, and lady min Venus,

  1305 That me han holpen fro1305 my cares colde!’

  And to the temple his wey forth hath he holde,

  Wheras he knew he sholde his lady se.

  And whan he saugh his time, anon-right1308 he

  With dredful1309 herte and with ful humble cheere

  1310 Salued1310 hath his soverain lady deere.

  ‘My righte lady,’ quod this woful man,

  ‘Whom I moost drede and love as I best kan,

  And lothest1313 were of al this world displese,

  Nere it that I for yow have swich disese1314

  1315 That I moste die heer at youre foot anon,

  Noght wolde I telle how me is wo-bigon.

  But certes outher moste I die or pleine1317;

  Ye sleen me giltelees1318, for verray peine.

  But of my deeth thogh that ye have no routhe,

  1320 Aviseth yow1320 er that ye breke youre trouthe.

  Repenteth yow, for thilke God above,

  Er ye me sleen bicause that I yow love.

  For, madame, wel ye woot what ye han hight –

  Nat that I chalange1324 anything of right

  1325 Of yow, my soverein lady, but youre grace –

  But in a gardin, yond at swich a place,

  Ye woot right wel what ye bihighten1327 me,

  And in my hand youre trouthe plighten1328 ye

  To love me best – God woot, ye seide so,

  1330 Al be that I unworthy am therto.

  Madame, I speke it for the honour of yow

  Moore than to save min hertes lif right now:

  I have do1333 so as ye comaunded me,

  And if ye vouchesauf1334, ye may go se.

  1335 Dooth as yow list; have youre biheste in minde,

  For quik1336 or deed, right ther ye shal me finde.

  In yow lith1337 al, to do me live or deye;

  But wel I woot, the rokkes been aweye1338.’

  He taketh his leve, and she astoned stood.

  1340 In al hir face nas1340 a drope of blood.

  She wende1341 nevere have come in swich a trappe.

  ‘Allas!’ quod she, ‘that evere this sholde happe1342!

  For wende I nevere by possibilitee

  That swich a monstre or merveille mighte be!

  1345 It is agains the proces of nature.’

&
nbsp; And hom she gooth, a sorweful creature;

  For verray feere unnethe1347 may she go.

  She wepeth, waileth, al a day or two,

  And swowneth that it routhe was to se.

  1350 But why it was to no wight tolde she,

  For out of towne was goon Arveragus.

  But to hirself she spak and seide thus,

  With face pale and with ful sorweful cheere,

  In hir compleinte, as ye shal after heere.

  1355 ‘Allas!’ quod she, ‘on thee1355, Fortune, I pleine,

  That unwar1356 wrapped hast me in thy cheine,

  Fro which t’escape woot I no socour1357,

  Save oonly deeth or elles dishonour;

  Oon of thise two bihoveth me to chese1359.

  1360 But nathelees, yet have I levere lese1360

  My lif, than of my body have a shame,

  Or knowe myselven fals, or lese my name.

  And with my deeth I may be quit1363, ywis.

  Hath ther nat many a noble wif er this,

  1365 And many a maide, yslain hirself, allas,

  Rather than with hir body doon trespas1366?

  ‘Yis, certes; lo, thise stories bere witnesse.

  Whan thritty tyrauntz, ful of cursednesse,

  Hadde slain Phidon in Atthenes atte feste,

  1370 They comaunded his doghtren1370 for t’areste

  And bringen hem biforn hem in despit1371

  Al naked, to fulfille hir foul delit,

  And in hir fadres blood they made hem daunce

  Upon the pavement – God yeve hem mischaunce!

  1375 For which thise woful maidens, ful of drede,

  Rather than they wolde lese hir maidenhede1376,

  They prively been stirt1377 into a welle

  And dreinte1378 hemselven, as the bokes telle.

  ‘They of Mecene1379 leete enquere and seke

  1380 Of Lacedomye fifty maidens eke,

  On whiche they wolden doon hir lecherye.

  But was ther noon of al that compaignye

  That she nas slain, and with a good entente1383

  Chees1384 rather for to die than assente

  1385 To1385 been oppressed of hir maidenhede.

  Why sholde I thanne to die been in drede?

  Lo, eek, the tyraunt Aristoclides,

  That loved a maiden heet1388 Stimphalides,

  Whan that hir father slain was on a night,

  1390 Unto Dianes temple gooth she right,

  And hente1391 the image in hir handes two,

  Fro which image wolde she nevere go.

  No wight ne mighte hir handes of it arace1393

  Til she was slain, right in the selve1394 place.

  1395 ‘Now sith that maidens hadden swich despit

  To been defouled with mannes foul delit,

  Wel oghte a wif rather hirselven slee

  Than be defouled, as it thinketh me.

  What shal I seyn of Hasdrubales wif,

  1400 That at Cartage birafte1400 hirself hir lif?

  For whan she saw that Romains wan the toun,

  She took hir children alle and skipte1402 adoun

  Into the fir, and chees rather to die

  Than any Romain dide1404 hire vileinye.

  1405 Hath nat Lucresse yslain hirself, allas,

  At Rome whan that she oppressed1406 was

  Of1407 Tarquin, for hir thoughte it was a shame

  To liven whan she hadde lost hir name1408?

  The sevene maidens of Milesie also

  1410 Han slain hemself for verray drede and wo,

  Rather than folk of Gawle1411 hem sholde oppresse.

  Mo than a thousand stories, as I gesse,

  Koude I now telle as touching this matere.

  Whan Habradate was slain, his wif so deere

  1415 Hirselven slow, and leet hir blood to glide

  In Habradates woundes depe and wide,

  And seide, “My body, at the leeste way1417,

  Ther shal no wight defoulen, if I may.”

  ‘What1419 sholde I mo ensamples herof sayn,

  1420 Sith that so many han hemselven slain

  Wel rather than they wolde defouled be?

  I wol conclude that it is bet1422 for me

  To sleen myself than ben defouled thus.

  I wol be trewe unto Arveragus,

  1425 Or rather sle myself in som manere,

  As dide Democionis doghter deere,

  Bicause that she wolde nat defouled be.

  O Cedasus, it is ful greet pitee

  To reden how thy doghtren deide, allas,

  1430 That slowe1430 hemselven for swich maner cas.

  As greet a pitee was it, or wel moore,

  The Theban maiden that for Nichanore

  Hirselven slow, right for swich manere wo.

  Another Theban maiden dide right so,

  1435 For oon of Macedoine hadde hire oppressed;

  She with hir deeth hir maidenhed redressed1436.

  What shal I seyn of Nicerates wif,

  That for swich cas birafte hirself hir lif?

  How trewe eek was to Alcibiades

  1440 His love, that rather for to dien chees,

  Than for to suffre1441 his body unburied be?

  Lo, which a1442 wif was Alceste!’ quod she.

  ‘What seyth Omer of goode Penolopee?

  Al Grece knoweth of hir chastitee.

  1445 Pardee, of Laodomia is writen thus,

  That whan at Troye was slain Protheselaus,

  No lenger wolde she live after his day.

  The same of noble Porcia telle I may:

  Withoute Brutus koude she nat live,

  1450 To whom she hadde al hool1450 hir herte yeve.

  The parfit wifhod of Arthemesye

  Honoured is thurgh al the Barbarye.

  O Teuta queene, thy wifly chastitee

  To alle wives may a mirour bee!

  1455 The same thing I seye of Bilyea,

  Of Rodogone, and eek Valeria.’

  Thus pleined1457 Dorigene a day or tweye,

  Purposinge evere that she wolde deye.

  But nathelees, upon the thridde night,

  1460 Hoom cam Arveragus, this worthy knight,

  And asked hire why that she weep1461 so soore;

  And she gan wepen, ever lenger the moore.

  ‘Allas,’ quod she, ‘that evere was I born!

  Thus have I seid,’ quod she, ‘thus have I sworn’ –

  1465 And tolde him al, as ye han herd bifore;

  It nedeth nat reherce1466 it yow namoore.

  This housbond, with glad cheere1467, in frendly wise,

  Answerde and seide as I shal yow devise1468:

  ‘Is ther oght ellis1469, Dorigen, but this?’

  1470 ‘Nay, nay,’ quod she, ‘God help me so as wys1470,

  This is to muche, and1471 it were Goddes wille!’

  ‘Ye, wif,’ quod he, ‘lat slepen that is stille1472.

 
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