The canterbury tales, p.60
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       The Canterbury Tales, p.60

           Geoffrey Chaucer

  Ther any ram shal stonde.

  Ful many a maide bright in bour742,

  They moorne743 for him par amour,

  Whan hem were bet to slepe744.

  745 But he was chaast and no lechour,

  And swete as is the brambel-flour746

  That bereth the rede hepe747.

  And so bifel, upon a day748,

  For sothe as I yow telle may,

  750 Sire Thopas wolde out ride.

  He worth upon751 his steede gray,

  And in his hand a launcegay752,

  A long swerd by his side.

  He priketh754 thurgh a fair forest,

  755 Therinne is many a wilde best –

  Ye, bothe bukke756 and hare.

  And as he priketh north and est,

  I telle it yow, him hadde almest758

  Bitidde759 a sory care.

  760 There springen herbes grete and smale,

  The licoris761 and the cetewale,

  And many a clowe-gilofre762,

  And notemuge763, to putte in ale,

  Wheither it be moiste764 or stale,

  765 Or for to leye in cofre765.

  The briddes singe, it is no nay766,

  The sparhauk767 and the popinjay,

  That joye it was to here.

  The thrustelcok769 made eek hire lay;

  770 The wodedowve770 upon the spray,

  She sang ful loude and clere.

  Sire Thopas fil in love-longinge,

  Al whan he herde the thrustel773 singe,

  And774 priked as he were wood.

  775 His faire steede in his prikinge

  So swatte776 that men mighte him wringe;

  His sides were al blood.

  Sire Thopas eek so wery was

  For priking on the softe gras,

  780 So fiers was his corage780,

  That doun he leide him in the plas

  To make his steede som solas782,

  And yaf him good forage783.

  ‘O Seinte Marye, benedicite!

  785 What eileth this love785 at me

  To binde me so soore?

  Me dremed al this night, pardee,

  An elf-queene shal my lemman788 be,

  And slepe under my goore789.

  790 ‘An elf-queene wol I love, iwys790,

  For in this world no womman is

  Worthy to be my make792, In towne.

  Al othere wommen793 I forsake,

  795 And to an elf-queene I me take,

  By dale and eek by downe796.’

  Into his sadel he clamb797 anoon,

  And priketh over stile and stoon,

  An elf-queene for t’espye799;

  800 Til he so longe hath riden and goon

  That he foond in a privee woon801

  The contree of Fairye So wilde.

  For in that contree was ther noon

  805 That to him dorste ride or goon,

  Neither wif ne child810e.

  Til that ther cam a greet geaunt;

  His name was Sire Olifaunt,

  A perilous man of dede.

  810 He seide, ‘Child, by Termagaunt,

  But if811 thow prike out of min haunt, Anon I sle812 thy steede

  With mace.

  Heere is the Queene of Faierye,

  815 With harpe and pipe and symphonye815,

  Dwelling in this place.’

  The child seide: ‘Also mote I thee817,

  Tomorwe wol I meete thee,

  Whan I have min armoure.

  820 And yet I hope, par ma fay820,

  That thow shalt with this launcegay

  Abyen822 it ful soure.

  Thy mawe823

  Shal I percen, if I may,

  825 Er it be fully prime of day,

  For here shaltow be slawe826.’

  Sire Thopas drow abak ful faste;

  This geant at him stones caste,

  Out of a fel829 staf-slinge.

  830 But faire escapeth Child Thopas,

  And al it was thurgh Goddes gras831,

  And thurgh his fair beringe832.

  [The Second Fit]

  Yet listeth833, lordes, to my tale;

  Murier834 than the nightingale,

  835 For now I wol yow rowne835

  How Sire Thopas, with sides smale836,

  Priking over hill and dale

  Is come again to towne.

  His murye men839 comanded he

  840 To840 make him bothe game and glee,

  For nedes moste he fighte

  With a geaunt with hevedes842 thre,

  For paramour843 and jolitee

  Of oon that shoon ful brighte.

  845 ‘Do come845’, he seide, ‘my minestrales,

  And gestours846 for to tellen tales,

  Anon in min arminge,

  Of romances that been reales848,

  Of popes and of cardinales,

  850 And eek of love-likinge850.’

  They fette him first the swete win,

  And mede852 eek in a maselin,

  And real853 spicerye

  Of gingebred854 that was ful fin,

  855 And licoris, and eek comin855,

  With sugre that is trie856.

  He dide next his white leere857

  Of clooth of lake858, fin and cleere,

  A breech, and eek a sherte;

  860 And next his sherte an aketoun860,

  And over that an haubergeoun861,

  For862 percing of his herte.

  And over that a fin hauberk863

  Was al ywroght of Jewes werk,

  865 Ful strong it was of plate.

  And over that his cote-armour866,

  As whit as is a lilye-flour,

  In which he wol debate868.

  His sheeld was al of gold so reed,

  870 And therinne was a bores870 heed,

  A charbocle871 biside.

  And there he swoor on ale and breed

  How that the geaunt shal be deed,

  Bitide what874 bitide!

  875 Hise jambeux875 were of quirboily,

  His swerdes shethe876 of ivory,

  His helm of latoun877 bright;

  His sadel was of rewel-bon878,

  His bridel as the sonne shon,

  880 Or as the moone-light.

  His spere was of fin cypres,

  That bodeth werre and nothing pes882,

  The heed ful sharp ygrounde.

  His steede was al dappel gray;

  885 It gooth an ambel885 in the way,

  Ful softely and886 rounde,

  In londe.

  Lo, lordes mine, here is a fit888!

  If ye wole889 any moore of it,

  890 To telle it wol I fonde890.

  [The Third Fit]

  Now holde youre mouth, par charitee891,

  Bothe knight and lady free,

  And herkneth to my spelle893,

  Of bataille and of chivalry,

  895 And of ladies love-drury895

  Anon I wol yow telle.

  Men speken of romances of pris897,

  Of Horn Child and of Ipotis,

  Of Beves and Sire Gy,

  900 Of Sire Libeux and Pleindamour –

  But Sire Thopas, he bereth the flour901

  Of real chivalry902!

  His goode steede al he bistrood903,

  And forth upon his wey he glood904,

  905 As sparcle905 out of the bronde.

  Upon his creest he bar a tour,

  And therinne stiked907 a lilye-flour;

  God908 shilde his cors fro shonde!

  And for he was a knight auntrous909,

  910 He nolde slepen in noon hous,

  But liggen911 in his hoode.

  His brighte helm was his wonger912,

  And by him baiteth913 his destrer,

  Of herbes fine and goode.

  915 Himself drank water of the well,

  As dide the knight Sire Percivell,

  So worly under wede917.

  Til on
a day –


  Here the Hoost stinteth Chaucer of his Tale of Thopas.

  ‘Namoore of this, for Goddes dignitee!’

  920 Quod oure Hooste, ‘for thow makest me

  So wery921 of thy verray lewednesse

  That, also wysly922 God my soule blesse,

  Mine eris aken of923 thy drasty speche!

  Now swich a rym the devel I biteche924!

  925 This may wel be rym dogerel925,’ quod he.

  ‘Why so?’ quod I, ‘Why wiltow lette926 me

  Moore of my tale than another man? –

  Sin that it is the beste rym I kan928.’

  ‘By God,’ quod he, ‘for pleinly, at o word929,

  930 Thy drasty ryming is nat worth a tord930!

  Thow doost noght ellis but despendest931 time.

  Sire, at o word, thow shalt no lenger ryme.

  Lat se wher thow kanst tellen aught933 in geste,

  Or telle in prose somwhat at the leeste,

  935 In which ther be som mirthe or som doctrine935.’

  ‘Gladly,’ quod I, ‘by Goddes swete pine936!

  I wol yow telle a litel thing in prose,

  That oghte liken938 yow, as I suppose,

  Or elles, certes, ye be to daungerous939.

  940 It is a moral tale vertuous,

  Al be it toold somtime941 in sondry wise

  Of942 sondry folk, as I shal yow devise.

  As thus: ye woot, that every evaungelist

  That telleth us the peine of Jesu Crist

  945 Ne seyth nat alle thing as his felawe dooth;

  But nathelees hir sentence946 is al sooth,

  And alle acorden947 as in hir sentence,

  Al be ther in hir telling difference.

  For somme of hem seyn moore, and somme seyn lesse,

  950 Whan they his pitous passioun expresse –

  I mene of Mark, Mathew, Luk, and John –

  But doutelees, hir sentence is al oon.

  ‘Therfore, lordinges alle, I yow biseche,

  If that ye thinke I varye as in my speche –

  955 As thus: thogh that I telle somwhat moore

  Of proverbes than ye han herd bifore

  Comprehended957 in this litel tretis heere,

  To enforcen958 with th’effect of my matere –

  And thogh I nat the same wordes seye

  960 As ye han herd, yet to yow alle I preye

  Blameth me nat; for, as in my sentence,

  Shullen962 ye nowher finden difference

  Fro the sentence of this tretis lite

  After964 the which this mirye tale I write.

  965 And therfore, herkneth what that I shal seye,

  And lat me tellen al my tale, I preye.’


  Heere biginneth Chaucers Tale of Melibee.

  A yong man called Melibeus, mighty and riche, bigat967 upon his wif, that called was Prudence, a doghter which that called was Sophie. | Upon a day, bifel that he for his desport968 is went into the feeldes him to pleye. | His wif and eek his doghter hath he laft inwith his hous, of which the dores weren faste yshette969. | Thre of his olde foos han it espied, and setten laddres to the walles of his hous and by windowes ben entred, [970] | and betten971 his wif and wounded his doghter with five mortal woundes in five sondry places | – this is to seyn, in hir feet, in hir handes, in hir eris, in hir nose, and in hir mouth – and leften hire for deed and wenten awey. |

  Whan Melibeus retourned was into his hous and seigh973 al this meschief, he lik a mad man rentinge his clothes gan to wepe and crye. | Prudence, his wif, as ferforth as974 she dorste, bisoughte him of his weping for to stinte, | but nat-forthy975 he gan to crye and wepen, evere lenger the moore. [975] | This noble wif Prudence remembred hire upon the sentence976 of Ovide, in his book that cleped is the Remedye of Love, whereas he seyth, | ‘He is a fool that destourbeth the moder to wepe in the deth of hir child til she have wept hir fille as for a certein time, | and thanne shal man doon his diligence978 with amiable wordes hire to reconforte, and preye hire of hir wepyng for to stinte.’ | For which resoun this noble wif Prudence suffred979 hir housbonde for to wepe and crye as for a certein space, | and whan she say980 hir time she seide him in this wise: ‘Allas, my lord,’ quod she, ‘why make ye youreself for to be lik a fool? [980] | For sothe, it aperteneth nat981 to a wis man to maken swich a sorwe. | Youre doghter, with the grace of God, shal warisshe982 and escape. | And al were it so that she right now were deed, ye ne oghte nat as for hir deth youreself to destroye. | Senek seyth: “The wise man shal nat take to greet disconfort for the deth of his children, | but certes he sholde suffren it in pacience, as wel as he abideth985 the deth of his owene propre persone.”’ [985] |

  This Melibeus answerde anon and seide: ‘What man’, quod he, ‘sholde of his weping stinte that hath so greet a cause for to wepe? | Jesu Crist, oure Lord, himself wepte for the deth of Lazarus his freend.’ | Prudence answerde: ‘Certes, wel I woot attempree988 weping is nothing defended to him that sorweful is, amonges folk in sorwe, but it is rather graunted him to wepe. | The apostle Poul unto the Romains writeth: “Man shal rejoise with hem that maken joye, and wepen with swich folk as wepen.” | But though attempree weping be graunted, outrageous990 weping, certes, is defended. [990] | Mesure of991 weping sholde

  be considered, after the loore that techeth us Senek. | “Whan that thy frend is deed,” quod he, “lat nat thine eyen to moiste ben of teeris ne to muche drye; althogh the teeris come to thine eyen, lat hem nat falle. | And whan thow hast forgoon993 thy freend, do diligence to geten another freend; and this is moore wisdom than for to wepe for thy freend which that thou hast lorn, for therinne is no boote.” | And therfore, if ye governe yow by sapience994, put awey sorwe out of youre herte. | Remembre yow that Jesus Sirak seyth: “A man that is joyous and glad in herte, it him conserveth florisshinge in his age, but soothly, sorweful herte maketh his bones drye.” [995] | He seyth eek thus, that sorwe in herte sleeth996 ful many a man. | Salomon seyth, that right as moththes in the shepes flees997 anoyeth to the clothes, and the smale wormes to the tree, right so anoyeth sorwe to the herte. | Wherfore us oghte as wel in the deth of oure children as in the losse of oure goodes temporels have pacience. | Remembre yow upon the pacient Job, whan he hadde lost his children and his temporel substance999, and in his body endured and received ful many a grevous tribulacion, yet seide he thus: | “Oure Lord hath yeven it me, oure Lord hath biraft1000 it me; right as oure Lord hath wold, right so it is doon. Yblessed be the name of oure Lord!”’ [1000] |

  To thise forseide thinges answerde Melibeus unto his wif Prudence: ‘Alle thy wordes’, quod he, ‘been sothe1001 and therto profitable, but trewely min herte is troubled with this sorwe so grevously that I noot what to doone.’ | ‘Lat calle1002’, quod Prudence, ‘thy trewe freendes alle and thy linage whiche that ben wise; telleth youre cas, and herkneth what they seye in conseillinge, and yow governe after hire sentence. | Salomon seyth: “Werk1003 alle thy thinges by conseil, and thow shalt nevere repente.”’ |

  Thanne, by the conseil of his wif Prudence, this Melibeus leet

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