The canterbury tales, p.53
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       The Canterbury Tales, p.53

           Geoffrey Chaucer

  It may be wel, paraunter1473, yet today.

  Ye shul youre trouthe holden1474, by my fay!

  1475 For, God so wysly have mercy upon me,

  I hadde wel levere ystiked for to be1476,

  For verray1477 love which that I to yow have,

  But if ye sholde1478 youre trouthe kepe and save.

  Trouthe is the hyeste thing that man may kepe.’

  1480 – But with that word he brast anon to wepe1480,

  And seide, ‘I yow forbede, up peine of deeth,

  That nevere, whil thee lasteth lif ne breeth,

  To no wight tel thow of this aventure1483.

  As I may best, I wol my wo endure;

  1485 Ne make no contenance of hevinesse1485,

  That folk of yow may demen1486 harm or gesse.’

  And forth he cleped1487 a squier and a maide;

  ‘Goth forth anon with Dorigen,’ he saide,

  ‘And bringeth hire to swich a place anon.’

  1490 They take hire leve, and on hir wey they gon,

  But they ne wiste why she thider wente;

  He nolde to no wight tellen his entente.1492

  Paraventure an heep of yow, ywys,1493

  Wol holden him a lewed1494 man in this,

  1495 That he wol putte his wif in jupartye1495.

  Herkneth the tale er ye upon hire crye1496;

  She may have bettre fortune than yow semeth1497;

  And whan that ye han herd the tale, demeth1498.

  This squier, which that highte Aurelius,

  1500 On Dorigen that was so amorus,

  Of aventure1501 happed hir to meete,

  Amidde the toun, right in the quikkest1502 strete,

  As she was boun to1503 goon the wey forth right

  Toward the gardin theras she had hight1504.

  1505 And he was to the gardinward1505 also,

  For wel he spied whan she wolde go

  Out of hir hous to any maner place.

  But thus they mette, of aventure or grace1508,

  And he salueth hire with glad entente,

  1510 And asked of hire whiderward1510 she wente.

  And she answerde, half as she were mad,

  ‘Unto the gardin, as min housbond bad,

  My trouthe for to holde, allas, allas!’

  Aurelius gan wondren on this cas1514,

  1515 And in his herte hadde greet compassioun

  Of hire and of hir lamentacioun,

  And of Arveragus, the worthy knight,

  That bad hir holden al that she had hight,

  So looth him was1519 his wif sholde breke hir trouthe1520.

  1520 And in his herte he caughte of this greet routhe,

  Consideringe the beste on every side,

  That fro his lust yet were him levere abide1522

  Than doon so heigh a cherlissh wrecchednesse1523

  Agains franchise1524 and alle gentillesse.

  1525 For which in fewe wordes seide he thus:

  ‘Madame, seyth to youre lord Arveragus,

  That sith I se his grete gentillesse

  To yow, and eek I se wel youre distresse,

  That him were levere han shame –1529 and that were routhe –

  1530 Than ye to me sholde breke thus youre trouthe,

  I have wel levere1531 evere to suffre wo

  Than I departe1532 the love bitwix yow two.

  I yow relesse, madame, into youre hond

  Quit1534 every serement and every bond

  1535 That ye han maad to me as heerbiforn,

  Sith thilke time which that ye were born.

  My trouthe I plighte1537, I shal yow nevere repreve

  Of no biheeste; and here I take my leve

  As of the treweste and the beste wif

  1540 That evere yet I knew in al my lif.’

  – But every wif be war of hir biheste;

  On Dorigene remembreth, at the leste!

  Thus kan a squier doon a gentil dede

  As wel as kan a knight, withouten drede.

  1545 She thonketh him upon hir knees al bare,

  And hom unto hir housbond is she fare1546,

  And tolde him al, as ye han herd me said.

  And be ye siker1548, he was so wel apaid

  That it were inpossible me to write.

  1550 What1550 sholde I lenger of this cas endite?

  Arveragus and Dorigene his wif

  In soverein blisse leden forth hir lif.

  Nevere eft ne was ther angre hem bitwene;

  He cherisseth hire as thogh she were a queene,

  1555 And she was to him trewe for everemoore.

  Of thise two folk ye gete of me namoore.

  Aurelius, that his cost hath al forlorn1557,

  Curseth the time that evere he was born.

  ‘Allas,’ quod he, ‘allas, that I bihighte

  1560 Of pured1560 gold a thousand pound of wighte

  Unto this philosophre! How shal I do?

  I se namoore but that I am1562 fordo!

  Min heritage moot I nedes1563 selle,

  And been a beggere – heere may I nat dwelle,

  1565 And shamen al my kinrede in this place –

  But1566 I of him may gete bettre grace.

  But nathelees, I wol of him assaye

  At certein dayes, yeer by yeer, to paye,

  And thonke him of his grete curteisye.

  1570 My trouthe wol I kepe; I wol nat lie.’

  With herte soor1571 he gooth unto his cofre,

  And broghte gold unto this philosophre,

  The value of five hundred pound, I gesse,

  And him bisecheth, of his gentillesse1574,

  1575 To graunte him dayes of1575 the remenant;

  And seide, ‘Maister, I dar wel make avant1576

  I failled nevere of my trouthe as yit.

  For sikerly, my dette shal be quit1578

  Towardes yow, however that I fare,

  1580 To goon abegged1580 in my kirtel bare.

  But wolde ye vouchesauf1581, upon seuretee,

  Two yeer or thre for to respiten1582 me,

  Thanne were I wel1583, for ellis moot I selle

  Min heritage; ther is namoore to telle.’

  1585 This philosophre sobrely answerde,

  And seide thus, whan he thise wordes herde:

  ‘Have I nat holden covenant1587 unto thee?’

  ‘Yis, certes, wel and trewely,’ quod he.

  ‘Hastow nat had thy lady as thee liketh?’

  1590 ‘No, no,’ quod he, and sorwefully he siketh.

  ‘What was the cause? Tel me if thow kan.’

  Aurelius his tale anon bigan,

  And tolde him al, as ye han herd bifore;

  It nedeth nat to yow reherce1594 it moore.

  1595 He seide, ‘Arveragus, of gentillesse,

  Hadde levere die in sorwe and in distresse,

  Than that his wif were of hir trouthe fals1598.’

  The sorwe of Dorigen he tolde him als,

  How looth hir was1599 to ben a wikked wif,

  1600 And that she levere had lost that day hir lif,

  And that hir trouthe she swoor thurgh innocence;

  She nevere erst hadde herd speke of apparence1602.

  ‘That made me han of hire so greet pitee,

  And right as frely as he sente hir me,

  1605 As frely sente I hire to him again.

  This al and som1606; ther is namoore to sayn.’

  This philosophre answerde, ‘Leeve brother,

  Everich of yow dide gentilly til oother1608.

  Thow art a squier, and he is a knight;

  1610 But God forbede, for his blisful might,

  But if a clerk koude doon a gentil dede

  As wel as any of yow, it is no drede!

  Sire, I relesse thee thy thousand pound,

  As thow right now were crope out of the ground1614,

  1615 Ne nevere er now ne haddest knowen me.

  For sire, I wol nat take a peny of t

  For al my craft, ne noght for my travaille.

  Thow hast ypayed wel for my vitaille;

  It is inogh, and farewel, have good day!’

  1620 And took his hors, and forth he goth his way.

  Lordinges, this questioun than wol I aske now:

  Which was the mooste free1622, as thinketh yow?

  Now telleth me, er that ye ferther wende!

  I kan namoore; my tale is at an ende.

  Heere is ended the Frankeleins Tale.


  Heere folweth the Physiciens Tale.

  Ther was, as telleth Titus Livius,

  A knight that called was Virginius,

  Fulfild of3 honour and of worthinesse,

  And strong of4 freendes, and of greet richesse.

  5 This knight a doghter hadde by his wif;

  No children hadde he mo in al his lif.

  Fair was this maide in excellent beautee

  Aboven every wight8 that man may see;

  For Nature hath with soverein9 diligence

  10 Yformed hire in so greet excellence

  As thogh she wolde seyn: ‘Lo, I, Nature,

  Thus kan I forme and peinte a creature

  Whan that me list! Who kan me countrefete?13

  Pygmalion noght, thogh he ay forge and bete14,

  15 Or grave15 or peinte, for I dar wel seyn

  Apelles, Zanzis, sholde werche in vein

  Outher17 to grave, or peinte, or forge, or bete,

  If they presumed me to countrefete.

  For he that is the formere19 principal

  20 Hath maked me his vicaire-general20

  To forme and peinten erthely creaturis

  Right as me list, and ech thing in my cure22 is

  Under the moone that may wane and waxe24,

  And for my werk right nothing wol I axe;

  25 My lord and I been ful of oon acord25.

  I made hire to the worship26 of my lord;

  So do I alle mine othere creatures,

  What colour that they han, or what figures.’

  – Thus semeth me that Nature wolde seye.

  30 This maide of age twelf yeer was and tweye,

  In which that Nature hadde swich delit;

  For right as she kan peinte a lilye whit

  And reed a rose, right with swich peinture33

  She peinted hath this noble creature,

  35 Er she were born, upon hire limes free35,

  Wheras by right swiche colours sholde be.

  And Phebus dyed hath hir tresses grete

  Lik to the stremes of his burned hete38.

  And if that excellent was hir beautee,

  40 A thousand fold moore vertuous was she.

  In hir ne lakked no condicioun

  That is to preise42 as by discrecioun.

  As wel in goost43 as body chaast was she,

  For which she floured in virginitee

  45 With alle humilitee and abstinence,

  With alle attemperance46 and pacience,

  With mesure47 eek of bering and array.

  Discreet she was in answering alway,

  Thogh she were wis as Pallas, dar I seyn.

  50 Hir facound50 eek ful wommanly and plein;

  No countrefeted51 termes hadde she

  To seme wis, but after hir degree52

  She spak, and alle hir wordes, moore and lesse,

  Sowninge in54 vertu and in gentillesse.

  55 Shamefast55 she was, in maidens shamefastnesse;

  Constant in herte, and evere in bisinesse56,

  To drive hire out of idel slogardye.

  Bacus hadde of hir mouth right no maistrye;58

  For win and youthe dooth Venus59 encresse,

  60 As men in fir wol casten oille or gresse60.

  And of hir owene vertu, unconstreined61,

  She hath ful ofte time sik hir feined62,

  For that she wolde fleen the compaignye

  Where likly was to treten of folye64,

  65 As is at festes, revels, and at daunces

  That been occasions of66 daliaunces.

  Swiche thinges maken children for to be

  To soone ripe and boold, as men may se,

  Which is ful perilous and hath ben yoore69;

  70 For al to soone may they lerne loore70

  Of boldnesse, whan she woxen is71 a wif.

  And ye maistresses, in youre olde lif72,

  That lordes doghtres han in governaunce73 –

  Ne taketh74 of my wordes no displesaunce –

  75 Thenketh that ye been set in governinges75

  Of lordes doghtres oonly for two thinges:

  Outher for ye han kept youre honestee77,

  Or elles ye han falle in freletee78,

  And knowen wel inow79 the olde daunce,

  80 And han forsaken fully swich meschaunce

  For everemo; therfore, for Cristes sake,

  To teche hem vertu looke that ye ne slake82.

  A theef of venisoun that hath forlaft83

  His likerousnesse84 and al his olde craft

  85 Kan kepe a forest best of any man.

  Now kepeth wel86, for if ye wole ye kan.

  Looke wel that ye unto no vice assente,

  Lest ye be dampned for youre wikke entente;

  For whoso dooth, a traitour is, certein.

  90 And taketh kepe90 of that that I shal seyn:

  Of alle tresoun, soverein pestilence91

  Is whan a wight bitrayseth92 innocence.

  Ye fadres, and ye modres eek also,

  Thogh ye han children be it oon or mo,

  95 Youre95 is the charge of al hir surveaunce,

  Whil that they been under youre governaunce.

  Beth war97, if by ensample of youre livinge,

  Or by youre necligence in chastisinge,

  That they perisse99; for I dar wel seye,

  100 If that they doon, ye shul it deere abeye100.

  Under a shepherde softe and necligent

  The wolf hath many a sheep and lamb to-rent102.

  Suffiseth oon ensample103 now as heere,

  For I moot turne again to my matere.

  105 This maide of which I wol this tale expresse

  So kepte hirself106, hir neded no maistresse.

  For in hir living maidens mighten rede,

  As in a book, every good word or dede

  That longeth to109 a maiden vertuous,

  110 She was so prudent and so bountevous110.

  For which the fame out sprong111 on every side

  Bothe of hir beautee and hir bountee112 wide,

  That thurgh that land they preised hire echone

  That loved vertu, save envye allone,

  115 That sory is of oother mennes wele,115

  And glad is of his sorwe and his unheele116 –

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